As previously reported, on March 25, students received an email about priority points earned. Two days later, students voiced their concerns over FDU’s new housing process at the Student Government Association meeting.
The new process bases a student’s priority on four different categories - academics, judicial standing, campus involvement and residence hall involvement - instead of relying on academic credits earned and a student’s grade point average.
Jas Verem, dean of students, was at the meeting to clear up any confusion about the process and to listen to what students had to say about it.
He opened the conversation by explaining the four categories. Each category has a maximum of ten points, which means a student’s highest-possible number of priority points is 40.
Academics is GPA-based. The higher your grades, the more points you receive in that category.
Judicial standing has to do with any sanctions or discipline a student has received throughout the year for violations of university policies.
Campus involvement is a bit more complex. It has several different ways for a student to earn points. For example, if a student has an on-campus job, he or she can receive up to two points; if a student attends events such as “Politics on the PublicMind” or “Hot Topics,” he or she can earn up to another two points if a list of attendees was submitted; and if the president of a club or organization submitted a list of its members, members of a club would also earn points for their participation (again, the more involved you are in a club, the more points you could possibly receive).
Members of athletic teams, intramural sports and the theater department are also given points for their participation.
As for the residence hall involvement category, this was the one many students were confused about. As explained at the SGA meeting, Resident Assistants do not select the amount of points the residents receive. RAs are only responsible for submitting lists with the names and student ID numbers of the students who attend their meetings. These include hall meetings, community builders and RA events.
As early as March 27, 50 appeals had already been submitted to Office of Residence Life and Housing by students who believed they participated more and deserved higher points. Other than possible mix-ups with records of event attendance, GPA or judicial standing, there were many other concerns students had.
Many were worried about the fact that their RA never had many - or any - hall meetings or community builders. If those events did not occur, students couldn’t earn points for them. Verem responded that they should email those concerns to Housing.
Other students stated they either couldn’t attend meetings due to the meeting’s time, or the RA events did not interest them.
A few RAs in attendance said that students can request the kind of event they would like to see to give them an idea of what the students want. They also said that if a student talks to his or her RA ahead of time about not being able to attend, he or she can just get the information then and be counted as present as the meeting. This way, there would be less controversy over “residence hall involvement” points.
Some complaints were that students who work hard with their school work and classes do not have the time to attend many events.
Verem explained that since events only count for a part of the points within the whole category - in addition to clubs, organizations and jobs - then GPA and discipline have a bigger impact on the overall score. For example, students with GPAs of 4.0 can have all ten points, whereas if they attend many meetings, they will still only get two of ten points.
Verem said that the goal is not to have students be super-involved, but to have them be at least somewhat involved with campus events.
Similar arguments were raised for the duration of the meeting, with students concerned that gaining points in one category could prevent points in another.
For example, students involved with the play are often too busy with rehearsals and practice to do much else.
Being too busy with academics was still a major concern. When Verem asked if GPA should count for even more points, a majority of the students agreed that it should.
One student suggested the amount of credits a student takes per semester should also be considered, since taking 18 credits will generate a larger workload than taking fewer credits. If homework, projects and studying keep a student from attending events, more emphasis would be put on the schoolwork and how much has to be done.
Another student said that without federal work study, it is very difficult to find an on-campus job, since many of the places of employment will only hire a student who qualifies for work study.
Students argued that it wouldn’t be fair to be denied points for not having an on-campus job.
Verem said that if a student has to go off-campus to find work, he or she can simply have his or her employer provide a letter so that points can be earned that way.
Some students complained that earning points for studying abroad is not fair to those who are not able to do so.
But Verem responded that, for example, students at Wroxton would get points for studying abroad because they are not able to attend events and participate in clubs on the College at Florham campus. This was aimed to balance out a Wroxton student’s lack of participation points.
Another subject brought up was that there are students who will sign their names on the sheet for an event and then leave, so it is not fair to the honest students who either stay the entire time or don’t lie about attending. Verem acknowledged this occurrence but said there was not much that could be done about it.
It was also mentioned that perhaps grade level (i.e., freshman, sophomore, junior or senior) should be taken into account. Students argued that the higher your class year, the more work you have to do since the courses increase in difficulty; also, upperclassmen often have internships and theses to complete.
Of all the concerns students had, the biggest had to do with the “cut-off limit.” In the email sent to students on March 25, it said that you could not request a person to be your roommate or suitemate unless he or she had at least 23 priority points.
Several students strongly opposed this rule, stating that they would rather live with the people they want in a random building than live in the building they want with random roommates.
Verem said that the rule was created so that people with few points would not be “pulled into” a good room by a friend with more points. He said it wouldn’t be fair to the people in the middle-range who don’t have a high earning roommate to get them a nice room.
Still, most students didn’t like this provision.
One student said that if multiple students cannot request the roommate they want due to the points, then it will just cause more of a hassle for Campus Life and RAs later on because if students get randomly assigned roommates, there is a greater chance of them having a conflict and wanting to switch out.
After several students brought up this concern, it was finally suggested that the 23 point cut-off be removed.
Verem said it was the most realistic option to solving this problem and he was “okay with letting 23 go.”
The next day students received an email informing them that the minimum number of points needed to request a roommate had been eliminated.
Now, anyone can be requested as a roommate, regardless of how many priority points he or she has.
Points were calculated until March 1, and students then received their scores.
Students who have identified their preferred roommates or suitemates need to average their scores. Whatever number they get after averaging out all of the scores is the number they will use to know which day to request their room. If they get a decimal point in their average, students can round up (i.e., a 29.6 would become a 30 but a 29.4 is just a 29).
If one member has a 40, but all roommates average at 31 then they would go on April 16 at 11 a.m., not on the very first day. Anyone not requesting a roommate would just follow his or her points time-slot.
If available rooms are getting scarce, housing officials will look at out-of-state and out-of-country students to see what they can do for them since it would be impossible for them to commute. They will also accommodate those with specific medical needs, such as someone needing a first-floor room.
This new housing selection procedure begins on April 15.
Overall reactions to this new system remain varied.
As SGA President Gina Giurastante commented, those who go above and beyond should be receiving those points. Students should be well-rounded and this gives something back to those who are.
There are others who dislike the idea of having to earn points and being forced to participate in at least some events.
Verem said that in the old system of housing, you would request who you wanted as a roommate and where you wanted to live, but nothing was definite.