The University of Connecticut’s Department of Residential Life has partnered with proprietary web service company Roompact in an effort to digitize the thousands of paper “Huskymate” agreements previously handed out to on-campus residents at the start of each semester.
ResLife officials cite convenience and flexibility as the two major motivating factors for the switch to the new platform.
“The paper agreements were at times difficult to manage,” Kimberly Proulx, Associate Director of Housing Services at ResLife, said. “We could not distribute them until several weeks into the semester, as the number to print was high and then we would divide them up for all the areas of campus.
In the past it’s been difficult and time-consuming to print out and distribute so many forms, Proulx said. Roompact’s program allows ResLife to start sending out the forms as soon as the semester starts, rather than waiting for a week or longer.
“We started researching online opportunities for this because we felt it would meet students at a good technological level,” Proulx said.
Proulx said new the platform helps open and improve dialogue between students and community leaders alike.
“These agreements can also be revisited and updated,” Proulx said. “Using paper agreements at times made this difficult because they were stored in an office and while students had copies, they were not regularly returning to these agreements if an issue arose.”
Fall 2016 residents have already been emailed a link to log in to their personal Roompact Hub where they can access their digital roommate agreement, update their profile and post comments. The inclusion of the platform’s social media elements stands as the most noticeable change over the physical agreements, though time will tell if students will take advantage of the new features.
“The social aspects seem cool, kind of like an online learning community where students can meet one another. It’s too bad there’s no face-to-face interaction though,” sophomore chemical engineering major Connor Yanicky said.
Other students are less enthused.
“Everything’s online these days. Why can’t I just get a paper form?” senior economics and political science student Joseph Fong said.
While roommate agreements are not officially mandatory, Proulx emphasized the benefits of participation.
“We encourage all students to fill out the agreement, as we always have done in the past. It is beneficial for students to do so that they are aware of their personal preferences and think intentionally about how to communicate these preferences to others. The majority of students on campus share some type of space with other students, and it is often a learning experience for them. This is why we ask students to take the agreement seriously, so that if issues arise at any time students can learn how to best address them and communicate with their roommate,” Proulx said.
UConn is currently one of nine other universities partnered with Roompact, and Proulx said the other universities’ positive feedback helped UConn make its decision.
ResLife plans to draw upon feedback from hall directors, RAs and residents to evaluate the platform’s effectiveness over the course of the year, though the initial rollout has been stable.
“We don't anticipate any major difficulties and are very excited to be able to offer this new platform to students to hopefully enhance their on-campus experience,” Proulx said.
Jesse Cohen is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.