Creating an Inclusive Process for Residents with Approved Accommodations

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  • Improved Process
    Increase in number of approved accommodations
  • Time-saving
    28 staff hours saved for each room selection process
  • Effective Support
    Without the need to increase staff resources
  • Improved Student Experience
    A more inclusive and transparent experience

Traditional in-person room selection process

At Gonzaga University, the Housing and Residence Life (HRL) team takes pride in providing great customer service to their residents. Historically, an in-person, hands-on process was in place to support students with accommodations approved by the Disability Access office. Of students residing in campus housing, 1 in 13 students have an approved accommodation. After a student meets with Disability Access, the HRL office receives documentation on the approved type of accommodation for the students.

“We have a great relationship with our campus partners at Disability Access.”

Lisa Owens, Associate Director, Gonzaga University

While inviting students to the office for in-person support was high touch, it also presented a few challenges.  Students often missed class to hold their place in line and it was harder to show students all possible spaces that would meet their accommodation.  The experience was time-consuming for students and staff and the number of students with approved accommodation has steadily increased each year.  Each student individually met with a staff member to view available options and select an assignment.

The early months of the pandemic, however, prevented the traditional in-person room selection process as students had already moved out of the residence halls.  The Gonzaga team quickly pivoted and moved the entire process to their StarRez online student portal.

The move to online

The move to an online process required minimal change to the existing online room selection process within the housing application.  Room configurations were updated to create room profiles corresponding to each of the accommodation options.  Students were coded to match their available options, ensuring they would see all available spaces that met their approved accommodation.

The first year of allowing students with approved accommodations to select their own rooms online was so successful that Gonzaga decided to keep the process even after students returned to campus.  In the last few years, Gonzaga experienced an increase in the number of approved accommodations.  After a move to an online selection process, 97% of these students choose to participate in online room selection.

Improved Student Experience

With their new process, however, the HRL team continued effectively supporting students without increasing staff resources.  Students with accommodations now select rooms the same way as the general student population, making this a more inclusive and transparent experience.   Students who decline to select their own room are assigned to a space meeting their accommodation by the HRL staff.   All students have the option to include roommates during room selection.

“Not only is online room selection more transparent, but it results in less tears and tissues.  Students have shared this process minimizes stress and provides them more time.  Everyone is happier.”

Lisa Owens, Associate Director, Gonzaga University

Overall, the move to a more student-friendly accommodation process has saved the housing team over 28 hours for each room selection process, even with the increase in approved accommodation.

At StarRez, we help to create inclusive housing experiences for students. Our software supports gender-inclusive housing options, roommate matching, emotional support, service animal tracking, and accommodation requests.