Revamping the WashU Housing Assignment Process

Problem Statement

Although the latest changes within the housing process have corrected many of the problems from two years ago, such as administrative work, human error, and student moved off campus, there are still improvements to be made. The first problem with the current system is students being penalized for not forming a student group. If a student doesn’t have a group they are deferred to the Administrative round for housing after most of the on and off campus housing has been selected, which effectively disregards the housing desires of said students. Another problem is that it gives preference to having students in certain areas instead of maximizing the number of students who receive their top preferences. This includes giving preference to seniors for apartments, sophomores for suites, and students with Res College interest instead of evaluating preferences equally. These stipulations places students at an advantage or disadvantage based on their classification and preference, which forces many students into choosing preferences just to avoid being placed in the administrative assignment round. This paired with the numerous deadlines for each round cause stress, confusion, and misguided preferences fir the students. 


Proposed Solution

The proposed method will revamp the entire housing process from start to finish. First, we will assume that all specialty housing (i.e. fraternity housing, special accommodations, and Living Learning Community Housing, RA’s) has been completed first, which is apart of this recommendation. Then, the rest of the housing process will begin for upper-class students. After completing a few surveys, I found that students care less about the Res College experience and more about having their desired housing for the upcoming year. This data can be found in the next section. Due to these finding, we will be eliminating the Res College round and compiling it with the general round; furthermore, any student who applies without a group will be paired before the general round, which will effectively eliminate the Administrative round, leading to one general housing round for the entire campus.

Afterwards, each group will be sorted by the number of group members and assigned to a dormitory based on their preferences. Only groups of the same size will go through the assignment process at the same time to make sure that correct group sizes are assigned to the right size dorms. We will be using the Hungarian Method in MATLAB, named “munkres”, for the assignment process. This includes assigning a weight to each student housing preference and minimizing cost, which means maximizing top preferences. These algorithms will pair each group with a dorm based on the availability of each room type but won’t pair them with a room. Then, each group will be randomly selected for a time slot to choose a dorm room. This will allow for the students to still have some agency within the process while simultaneously ensuring the student group will be placed in said dorm.