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First-years face new firsts

As an ambitious first-year student wakes to a 6 a.m. alarm, his less than enthused roommate joins him.

Every year, on college campuses nationwide, the first week of school serves as a test of temperament and the compatibility for two near strangers as part of random housing assignments.

As courses commence, this week begins the tell-all process whether the dorm room decorating, unpacking and Welcome Weekend activities will give way to friendships, coexistence or a pending roommate divorce.

Just eight days after moving into one of five first-year residence halls at Drake University, first-year Hannah Erikson is still optimistic she is one of the success stories of the Residence Life department’s several months-long assignment process.

“The chances that we will live together all year are very high,” Erikson said. “We are getting along splendidly, and we all have some sort of similarity or way we can relate, so that helped us bond over Welcome Weekend. By the way things are going I am convinced we will remain friends throughout our years at Drake.”

According to the Drake website, most first-year students are assigned to double rooms based on when they submit a housing deposit and a rooming application.

Erikson is a resident of one of the 55 three person rooms on campus.

Nonetheless, she considers both her roommates good matches to preferences she outlined on a housing survey when she officially decided to attend Drake.

“The survey that we filled out was nice, and my roommates are all pretty close to the same responses,” Erikson said. “I asked for a non-smoker and did not get a smoker, and we are all moderately messy.”

Erikson and the rest of the 2016 graduating class found out the details of their respective dorms and pairings together on July 24 after all of the First-Year Orientations were completed.

They have known their roommates for a little over a month and must wait until at least the second week of school to switch to a different room should they like to do so.

Drake utilizes a feature believed to improve the potential success of roommate assignments — grouping First Year Seminar course mates together on floors across campus.

Madeline Matthews, a junior education and English major, still lives with her first-year roommate and three other floor mates.

“We saw each other everyday and since we didn’t hate each other it worked,” Matthews said.

“As freshmen having a class together (first-year seminar) is good because it gives you something to talk about especially when you’re strangers.”

As the “honey moon” period gives way to the college routine it remains to be seen how many will be as lucky as Matthews was three years ago or if first-years will be seeking a new housing partner in the coming weeks and years.


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