Online versus inline, campus housing made ‘symplistic’

Photo by: Nick Conley

 

Waiting in long lines to ensure a spot in the desired dorm or apartment with the perfect roommate is now a thing of the past. Oklahoma Christian University’s Residence Life team switched the old, in-person system to a new, completely online program.

“Starting this year, we are able to take all reservations online,” Jessica Estes, housing director for dorms, said.

The new program, over a year in the making, is called ‘Residence by Symplicity.’ Here, students can take care of all their housing needs online; this includes paying for and reserving a room.

“I think the new online housing is great because it eliminates the problem of lining up overnight,” senior Hannah Bingham said. “It is a lot easier for people to keep their apartment or get a new apartment.”

Times for housing selection were assigned on Tuesday, March 12, but the process of selecting rooms began on Wednesday, March 27.

The process for selecting rooms changed significantly from past years when the old system was in place. Roommates can create groups with a leader, who then picks the room for the whole group.

Each person is given a sign -up time and the leader will then generally be the person with the earliest sign-up time. Anytime before selection, roommate groups and leaders can be revised. After groups finalize their decision online, any changes will be made through the Residence Life staff.

Residence by Symplicity was suggested to Residence Life and, after much consideration and research into other programs, was picked as the winner.

“We have taken a product that was originally designed for a very generic housing online process and tried to fine-tune it to give a much different service for our students,” Judy Davis, director of residence life, said.

The system required work before it could be put in place on the campus.

“Our IT department has worked hard with us to make this a positive, improved experience,” Davis said.

Estes and Davis share similar sentiments regarding Oklahoma Christian’s Support Central department.

“We are thankful for the partnership we have had with IT,” Estes said. “It has taken a lot to get this all together.”

Students agree that the experience is generally positive.

“It is a great advancement to our campus community,” Bingham said. “I think that students will like that they don’t have to line up and wait for a long time with the online version instead of lining up, which was just a fiasco for everyone.”

Because the system is new, glitches and issues on both the Residence Life and the student side are inevitable.

“I know some people have had some difficulties with doing their deposits because OC can’t take Visa cards, but when you are doing it online, it kind of complicates it,” Bingham said.

Other payment issues have arisen due to the online system.

“One of my roommates went and paid her deposit in person, but then it didn’t show up online that she had already paid, so she had difficulties getting the in-person and online features to line up,” Bingham said.

Although the new system was installed for the good of the campus, students and workers alike will miss some portions of the old wait-in-line system.

“I think waiting in line was probably kind of a fun adventure for everyone – people who camped out in the Nowlin Center all night,” Bingham said. “Maybe the adventure of camping out to stake your claim is missing now.”

One thing that has changed drastically due to Residence by Symplicity is the amount of time the Residence Life staff and students interact with each other in person.

“We have enjoyed that face to face interaction with the students; we’re kind of going to miss that,” Estes said. “But we want what is best for the students, and over years the administration has felt like making it easier for them to do, making it something that they can do themselves, is something that the administration wanted to make possible.”

The Residence Life staff is prepared for challenges of implementing the new program.

“Change is always hard, whatever kind of change it is,” Estes said.

Residence Life installed the new program to make housing easier for the students as well as the staff members dealing with housing. Because the process in effect before Residence by Symplicty was difficult and time-consuming for both parties, it became necessary that a new system replace the old.

“Everything we do, we do for the students,” Davis said. “Our goal is to be rid of the early morning reservation hours and the trek to our office. Another goal is to make it possible for the students to take care of their housing needs right from the comfort of their current room or apartment.”

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