Create a roommate-finding service for transfer students

Rachel Kunzi, Columnist

Oh, wow it’s Matthew McConaughey, right there on my laptop! He’s welcoming me to UT!

While Matthew McConaughey’s pre-recorded warm welcome during my Transfer Student Orientation was exciting, the vigor quickly wore off when the Zoom meeting ended. I sat in my room over a thousand miles away from the Forty Acres with no idea how I’d find roommates or a place to live.

Though transferring to a new university entails a certain amount of discomfort, housing should not be something that students have to scramble to figure out. UT must do more to help transfer students arrange their housing before classes begin and create a roommate-finding service specifically for them.

Transfer Student Living Learning Communities allow transfer students to live in a cohort together in Jester East, but many incoming transfers have already lived on campus at their previous university and simply don’t want to again. Additionally, there are only so many spots available. 

According to Jeffrey Mayo, assistant director of the First-Year Experience Office, many transfers don’t take part in Transfer Student LLCs. 

“It’s a smaller community, and so it doesn’t have a huge impact, statistically, on the numbers that we serve,” Mayo said.

Radio-television-film senior and transfer student Matthew Young didn’t know Transfer Living Learning Communities existed.

“I mean, I didn’t know about them, partly because I wasn’t interested (in) living on campus anyways. I was really trying hard to stay off campus,” Young said. “That’s one thing, but no, I think I probably would’ve heard of that, but (I) didn’t.”

The neighborhoods surrounding UT feature many housing options, and incoming transfers shouldn’t feel obligated to live on campus. However, finding off-campus housing can prove to be difficult when students don’t know their housing options or potential roommates. Thus, a transfer-specific roommate service would be invaluable. 

When asked about the possibility of such a service being provided, Mayo pointed to New Student Services. 

“A large part of (New Student Services) is helping with understanding off-campus housing options, so that’s who we would typically direct students towards,” Mayo said.

Mayo also added that if a need for this service was made known, his office might help with creating it.

The Division of Student Affairs does offer a roommate-finding program, but a transfer-specific option is necessary. Potential transfers would be directed to this service upon filling out a transfer application, as admissions results can arrive as late as July, leaving little time to coordinate housing. 

Young has expressed frustration with this issue in particular and said he had difficulty finding roommates.

“Part of it had to do with admissions, I think, because I found out that I got admitted to the school (in) July of last year,” Young said. “So I had about a month to find an apartment and people to live with.” 

Young lives in off-campus housing with five roommates, one of whom he knew before moving in, and said he would have used a roommate-finding service for transfer students.

“There are services for UT students as a whole, but there are needs that need to be met for transfer students specifically, especially on such short notice,” Young said.

A transfer roommate-finding service would allow incoming transfers to find compatible roommates to live with on or off campus, as students would be able to note their preferences.

Incoming transfer students should have the opportunity to embark on their journey at UT without having to add housing-related stress to the already nerve-racking experience of moving universities.

Kunzi is a rhetoric and writing junior from Las Vegas, Nevada.