The Colby Echo sat down with Jess Manno, Associate Dean of Students for Student Leadership and Residential Education, and Mike Blasco, Assistant Director of Housing Operations, to learn more about the changes in the application this year, as well as what the process looks like behind the scenes in Campus Life.
On March 1, Campus Life released the 2021-2022 housing application. Required by all Colby students who are enrolled at the College for the following year, the housing application determines the status of students in specialty housing.
One notable change to this year’s application process is a limitation on submitting multiple applications. In previous years, students were able to apply to multiple specialty housing areas. For example, seniors could apply to both the Alfond Commons and the Senior Apartments and rank their preferences.
For the 2021-2022 application cycle, students can only apply with one group to one area. Students who apply to multiple locations will not be considered for any specialty housing.
Manno explained that the motivation behind this change was to stress the importance of the mission for different residence locations.
“Folks were more focused on the whole idea of apartment living instead of the mission of the area,” Manno explained. “We want folks to make sure that they are applying to a space that reflects their needs and missions.”
She emphasized that the applications this year are centered around this educational goal, and throughout the application process the importance of this mission is highlighted.
Manno also noted the difficulties that arose during the housing process when students ranked different living arrangements. With a student body of 2000, she explained, Campus Life did not have the resources to track the rankings of individuals. Now, students apply to one specialty housing location or enter the regular room draw pool, thereby simplifying the process for everyone involved.
Kara Petronio `21 , a housing intern in the Office of Campus Life, elaborated on the complications of students applying for multiple locations.
“People were applying with one group to the senior apartments, but with a different group to Heights [residence hall] for example,” Petronio said. This would further confuse the process because if the groups were accepted to both residences, some students would be doubly committed, disqualifying their roommates and adding an additional layer of misunderstanding to the process.
Petronio also noted that students either got their first housing choice or did not get any.
“No one got their second apartment choice, so it didn’t make sense to do multiple applications.It just created more work for students without a greater pay-off,” Petronio said.
Manno also emphasized that the application limit to one residence type applies to all specialty housing.
“This applies to Healthy Colby, substance free, the Alfond Commons, etc. You pick the one thing you are most committed to,” Manno shared. “If you get it, great! If not, you will join the room draw for your class.”
Manno and Blasco also walked The Colby Echo through the room draw timeline and what the behind-the-scenes work looks like after applications are submitted.
“We’ve set up committees of staff that will read the applications [for specialty housing], as well as students who have lived in that community. So the [Community Advisors] that have lived there this year, and those who will live there next year, are part of these committees,” Manno said.
While the student committee members will read the written applications, they will not partake in the discussion of the applications. Instead, they will summarize each application, explaining why they ranked them the way they did.
“The staff folks will discuss the applications, taking the written things into consideration, but we’ve limited the group that talks about the applications because we will discuss sensitive things, like conduct records, for example,” Manno explained.
Manno further noted that the staff only has access to the category of a conduct record, not specific details of the offense, and only about conduct violations for which students were found responsible.
The staff committees consist of personnel from Campus Life’s residence office and faculties- in-residence.
For the senior apartments, this is a faculty-in-residence from one of the surrounding dorms. The senior apartments and Heights suites committees also include a representative from athletics, a practice that began last year. This representative can serve as a liaison for the athletic community to explain the housing process and attest to its transparency.
Manno emphasized that athlete status is not considered in housing applications or even known, with two exceptions.
“We do not look up athlete status,” she said. “There is no way for us to do that. We only know if you talk about your team affiliation in your application materials, or if in your conduct record it talks about something being the result of a larger team issue.”
The Alfond Commons housing committee includes all of the faculties-in-residence, who split up and review the applications amongst themselves, along with the civic engagement team.
Key dates for this year’s housing process include March 19, when specialty applications are due, and April 12, when students who applied to application-based processes will find out if they have been selected or not.
Blasco explained that the housing staff will tell students earlier if they were selected for specialty housing to give those who are not selected time to figure out their approach to the regular room draw.
On April 21, room draw picks and times are announced. Room draw takes place on April 26 for the rising senior class, April 27 for the rising junior class, and April 28 for the rising sophomore class.
~ Madeleine Hand ‘22