UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

Students find roommates through profiling software

– Neat freak or slob? Early riser or night owl? Social butterfly or hermit? Even the best of friends can feud over such differences when rooming in tight quarters. That's why hundreds of students moving into University of California, Berkeley, residence halls this coming weekend (Aug. 23-24) have used profiling software - along the lines of eHarmony and Match.com - to track down compatible roommates.

UC Berkeley launched the StarRez room selection and roommate-finding pilot program last spring for returning freshmen. But rather than question students about their academic majors, backgrounds, and likes and dislikes - as do other universities that use the same student housing software - UC Berkeley's survey focuses mostly on issues that go to the heart of roommate conflicts.

If the profiles get too detailed, campus housing officials fear, students will end up rooming with clones of themselves. "We want students to live with people from different backgrounds. This should be a growth experience," said Dan Ocampo, UC Berkeley's director of residential living.

In theory, many students on campus agree with that philosophy: "You have to be able to get along with different kinds of people, because that's what the world's about," said Alicia McQuillen, a senior majoring in Native American studies and political science and a Yurok tribe member from Crescent City, Calif.

But McQuillen also believes that you need to set some boundaries, otherwise, "rooming together can get awkward," she said.

Last spring, McQuillen submitted an online profile in her quest to find a roommate in the Native American-themed suite in Slottman Hall. She has since been matched up with Ashley Pino, a member of the Acoma tribe in New Mexico. The two, who met earlier this year, will move in their belongings on Sunday.

In the past, UC Berkeley students who received housing assignments were briefly surveyed via e-mail about their sleep schedules, level of tidiness and whether they smoked. Those who hadn't already requested a specific roommate were assigned one based on that survey.

As of last February, however, students have been able to log on to the StarRez portal to explore those and other issues through more detailed profiles of potential roommates for the 2008 fall semester. So far, responses show the top concerns to be sleeping habits, partying schedules, hygiene and borrowing without asking.

"We found a lot of roommate conflict around what time students go to bed, what time they get up and level of tidiness," said Michelle Kniffin, UC Berkeley assistant director for housing assignments. "Being neat is a big criterion."

Among other things, the StarRez survey asks roommate seekers if they mind living with a smoker; need quiet time for studying; enjoy friends dropping by at all times; go home most weekends; keep their living space tidy and are comfortable sharing their belongings.

Users can use a screen name, make queries, direct folks to their Facebook or MySpace profiles, and accept or decline offers. If they don't find a suitable roommate, the StarRez program can make a match for them.

Move-in Weekend precedes Welcome Days, when new students can take campus tours and attend workshops, lectures and receptions offered by UC Berkeley's schools, colleges and departments. For many students, classes begin Wednesday, Aug. 27. For the fall semester, UC Berkeley expects nearly 10,000 new students to enroll, including more than 4,000 freshmen, 2,000 transfer students and nearly 3,000 graduate students.

Welcome Days highlights include:

  • New Student Convocation, Monday, Aug. 25, 3:45-6 p.m. All new undergraduates are invited to hear from Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and other speakers at a picnic dinner at Memorial Glade.
  • Chancellor's Receptions for New Undergraduates, Tuesday, Aug. 26-Thursday, Aug. 29, 4-5:30 p.m. New undergraduates can meet the chancellor at invitation-only gatherings at the Chancellor's Garden, University House.
  • Sunset at the Campanile, Tuesday, Aug. 26, and Thursday, Aug. 28, 7-9 p.m. After-hour tours of the Campanile will be held for new students, who can enjoy the sunset from the observation deck atop the 307-foot Sather Tower.
  • Calapalooza, Thursday, Aug. 28, 5:30-9 p.m. More than 300 student groups, campus services and performers will introduce themselves to new students at this annual resource fair at Upper and Lower Sproul Plaza.
  • Caltopia, Sunday, Aug. 24, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Monday, Aug. 25, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Cal's Recreational Sports Facility will host this entertainment festival at 2301 Bancroft Way. For more details, visit the Caltopia homepage.