Original article by Brendon Dybdahl, University Housing
Photo: Jeff Miller
June 23, 2014
Earlier this month, more than 6,000 incoming freshmen received their residence halls assignment information from University Housing, in a complex annual process that finds homes for more than 7,400 undergraduate students.
Some will be living on campus in the lakeshore neighborhood, and others in the southeast neighborhood. Some will be living with a chosen friend or in a single room, while many others choose being paired with a randomly assigned roommate.
But, no matter what building these students end up calling home, their on-campus living experiences are very much the same. They share in their transition to college with hundreds of other new Badgers in their residence hall, meeting fellow first-year neighbors with open doors.
Residents quickly learn that the people matter more than the buildings. And they are immersed in the Wisconsin Experience through programs, activities, and new connections.
Annual surveys of on-campus residents consistently tell of an overwhelmingly positive experience no matter which of the 19 residence halls they lived in.
In a University Housing survey from last academic year, 97 percent of all residents indicated that they were satisfied with their living experience and 95 percent said they would recommend living in university residence halls to their friends.
“Our resident satisfaction rates are so high because everyone who works in University Housing is committed to the success of our residents,” Fred Fotis, director of residence life, says. “We work hard to create a great living environment, great dining services, and a host of other quality and caring services that help our residents take advantage of everything this great university has to offer.”
Thanks to recent major facility improvements laid out in the University Housing Master Plan, ratings of housing’s dining service and facilities have improved in recent years and are among the top factors in satisfaction, scoring 91 percent and 85 percent satisfaction rates, respectively, this spring in a national survey of UW-Madison residence halls. Safety and security also ranked high with residents, with a 96 percent satisfaction rate, highlighting the emphasis placed on community and a safe living environment in the residence halls.
One of the big factors in a positive residence hall experience is getting along with roommates. Many residents are not used to sharing a room, especially with someone they might not have known before.
Communication before move-in is very important, whether it’s in-person, by phone, by email, or through Skype. By sharing their expectations and habits and coordinating what items to bring, roommates can get the relationship off to a better start.
In 2013, house fellows continued a recent initiative of meeting individually with each roommate pair during the fall semester to make sure things were going smoothly. Because of the efforts of residence life staff, roommate satisfaction has steadily improved over several years, greater than any other factors measured.
“With the house fellows’ support, the residents often feel more invested in finding solutions, communicating and compromising,” says Richard Baker, residence life coordinator. “Additionally, I think that our proactive roommate agreement process is significant.”
UW-Madison does not require first-year students to live on campus, but with all of these positive experiences, more than 90 percent of the incoming freshmen choose to live in University Residence Halls each year. Whether they’re living in Kronshage, Witte, Bradley, Ogg, or any of the residence halls, the students make their own community and create lifelong memories.
“There is a place for every kind of person here at UW Madison,” says student Rachel Glaeske. “No matter where you choose to live or where you end up, there will be people you can relate to and grow with. And, of course, there will always be staff to help you adjust at first.”