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Finding a roommate in a pandemic

With Miami University announcing a mostly in-person fall semester, some students are resorting to Facebook groups to find housing  for the 2021-2022 school year.

Alex Roell, a sophomore accountancy major, recently found his roommate through Facebook.

This year, Roell has been commuting from his home in Harrison, Ohio, which is about a 40 minute drive.

“Freshman year was a lot better I thought,” Roell said. “Being on campus was nice and having everything be a five to 10 minute walk everywhere I went. I enjoyed being in the community, and it’s hard to get that now by commuting.”

When COVID-19 cases started to decrease, Roell decided he wanted to come back to campus for the 2021-2022 school year, but the biggest obstacle in his way was finding roommates to live with. 

Roell posted a message saying he was looking for a roommate in the Miami University Class of 2023 Facebook page on March 25, and within a couple of days, he got three messages back.

“I got one within 12-14 hours, and that’s where I plan on living currently,” Roell said. “It was really a kind of relief that I didn’t have to worry about anything.”

While Roell said he was a little distressed about rooming with students he’s never talked to before, he felt at home after discussing the situation with them.

“They added me to a group chat, and we started talking about the things that we like, what things we are OK with and what we aren’t,” Roell said. “The best thing is they were the ones that approached me about that stuff. It made me feel better when they asked about habits and everything. It just gave me confidence.”

Alyssa Duke, a first-year strategic communication major, said she made a Facebook post looking for housing after her current roommate told her she plans to live with her sorority.

“I was kind of nervous; I didn’t know what pictures to choose [to post], and I didn’t really know what to say,” Duke said. “But I got a bunch of replies.”

Duke said she thought the pandemic hindered students’ opportunities to meet potential roommates and could be a reason why so many students headed to Facebook to make a post.

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“Being a freshman with everything going on, it’s hard to meet new people — most of the people I interact with are in my dorm,” Duke said. “I would have met a lot more people if we weren’t in a pandemic.”

Evan Cole, a junior art and architecture history major, said he also put out a Facebook post for the upcoming school year. He currently lives in Stonebridge Hall in a double room  by himself.

“I went random for this year, and things were good,” Cole said. “I sent [my roommate] an email a couple months ago before moving in and never got a response until a couple months later. He just disappeared.”

Cole said he doesn’t mind the space and privacy living by himself, but next school year he would prefer to live off-campus. He put a Facebook post up about a week ago and got a response.

“I did get a response, but it ended up not working out,” Cole said. “They were close to signing, and I still needed some time to think about it.”

Cole said he wished Miami did more for students seeking off-campus housing.

“Obviously, it’s much different circumstances, but not having a roommate matcher system for off-campus students really sucks,” Cole said. “I understand they can’t on behalf of the businesses, but I have yet to find a housing situation.”

While Vicka Bell-Robinson, Miami’s director of residence life, confirmed there currently wasn’t a roommate matcher for off-campus housing, she did offer to assist those who need help finding roommates.

“Our office of residence life can help to figure out who is looking for a roommate,” Bell-Robinson said. “If folks are struggling, they can email [the office of residence life], and we are happy to facilitate that.”

Bell-Robinson also gave a tip she says students rooming with others should utilize throughout the school year.

“Good roommate pairings start with mutual respect and good communication,” Bell-Robinson said. “It’s a major component whether you’re best friends with your roommate, or if you found them off of Facebook.”