Roommates matched via Facebook app, mutual requests from students


More than 1,600 students live in residence halls at EWU, most with a roommate. The majority of roommates stay together for the whole year.

Roommates are matched in three ways, according to Chief Housing Officer Josh Ashcroft: First, two students may request each other as roommates, but both students must make the request. Second, RoomSync, a Facebook dorm housing app, runs an algorithm that finds potential roommate matches for students who choose to use the app. Finally, all students requesting housing at EWU complete a housing application that includes questions about habits and preferences. Students who are not matched in the other two ways will be matched using a computer algorithm that analyzes their questions and finds potential compatible roommates for them.

When students apply for housing at EWU, they receive login information to the housing system. This also gives them access to RoomSync, a Facebook app developed by two University of Florida students that utilizes a roommate-matching algorithm.

In RoomSync, students answer a series of questions about themselves and about the roommate they want, ranking items on how important they are. RoomSync analyzes the data and gives them a list of possible roommate matches. They can contact matches they are interested in to get acquainted and talk about details. If the two of them agree, each one must separately contact Room Assignments Coordinator Melanie Duggan Potts to request the other person.

“RoomSync is super-popular,” said Ashcroft. “There’s been a huge increase in the number of people who found roommates there.”

The current number of room change requests after the school year has begun has decreased by about 100 compared to this time last year, according to Potts.

The idea of a Facebook app for housing is unusual, so RoomSync is still gaining traction in the marketplace, according to Potts. Next year Eastern will swap out RoomSync for software called StarRez. It does the same work, but in a more user-friendly way.

Abby Hart, a sophomore elementary education major, is in her second year of living in campus housing. Both years she filled out the standard housing application and the system matched her with a roommate. “I didn’t really use the RoomSync thing, because it was new,” she said. “I just got paired up.” According to Hart, the residence hall’s matching has worked well for her; she has never requested a change.

“The more control students feel, the more satisfied they are. They’re more likely to try because they’re invested. If the university chose [the roommate], they’re less invested [in making it work].” Potts said.

Potts also warned, “Just because someone is your best friend doesn’t mean they’re your best roommate. … Don’t come in with preconceptions about how it should be.”

She emphasized the importance of open communication between roommates, especially to come to an early understanding of daily logistics for living together. She mentioned that in the last few years, comparatively fewer students come to college having shared a room at home. “It’s a big adjustment,” she said.

Eastern’s new residence hall project will launch in the fall of 2013 and will add 354 beds to EWU’s student housing. Rooms will be doubles or triples. Every floor will have a full kitchen with tables and chairs as well as a lounge with natural lighting. Also available will be bike storage, laundry on each floor, a covered front porch patio and WiFi connectivity building-wide.