Applying for Community: the reason behind those yellow sheets

By Alex Anhalt

It is time for housing applications again at Spring Arbor University (SAU).


The bright yellow sheets popping up all across campus prompted roommates-to-be to make last-minute plans, and on March 13, the first applications for K-Houses were available. For the next few weeks, students will be matching up with friends and filling out one form that will help determine their living quarters for the 2017-2018 academic year.


When it comes to housing signups, there are many dates to remember, options to consider and intricacies to iron out. However, Associate Dean of Students Bobby Pratt, head of the housing application system, said the complex workings of the application system actually work to the student’s benefit.


Pratt said most schools will leave it “to the luck of the draw.” This lottery system “lets them assign living options in one fell swoop,” Pratt said, but student requests are granted at random.


Pratt believes there are better alternatives that give students more say in where they want to go, even if those methods are “a little bit more work on our end.”


Applications are given priority based on three main categories: seniority, roommate plans and squatter’s rights.


“We start with what we consider upperclassman housing,” Pratt said. He said the K-Houses and villages are designed to give seniors the chance to live more independently, and since they tend to be the most sought-after options, those applications are available first. Priority is also given to students staying in the same place because Pratt thinks they should be rewarded for “what they’ve invested in that community.”


Applicants who suggest a correct number of roommates will also receive priority, Pratt said, since it saves the administration the challenge of partnering students into well-matched groups.


Every time applicants learn whether or not their application was approved, they are given twenty-four hours before the next applications open. That gives students a chance to shuffle roommates and formulate a new housing plan before the next option is available.

Photo by Alex Anhalt


Pratt said SAU’s housing system is not just designed to cater to the student; it also maximizes community.


Andrews Hall, a residence hall added to SAU in 2010, is one example of this philosophy. According to Pratt, most universities would avoid building new residence halls with communal bathrooms, but SAU wanted to establish a brand-new community.


Community is also the reason freshmen can’t live in the K-Houses or Villages.


“We want our underclassmen to make a lot of connections and feel like part of the campus,” Pratt said. “We understand that as students get older, they’ve done that, they’ve identified the group that’s going to be their support.”
Village applications close on April 6, and students can opt for any of the residence halls starting April 13.