Creating an Inclusive Process for Residents with Approved Accommodations

Learn how Gonzaga University moved to a more student-friendly accommodation process and saved the housing team over 28 hours for each room selection.
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Key Highlights

Improved Processes

Creating an efficient and well-organized process for the increased number of approved accommodations.

Maximizing Time

Saving staff over 28 hours during the room selection process for student support needs.

Effective Support

Utilizing self-help support resources to achieve simple solutions.

Improving Student Experiences

Supporting an inclusive and transparent experience for those with accommodation requests.

Gonzaga University
Northwest, USA
Higher Education
Active Since
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Gonzaga University is a private Jesuit university in Spokane, Washington. Founded in 1887 by Joseph Cataldo, the university is named after the young Jesuit saint Aloysius Gonzaga. With a total enrollment of about 7,500 students, about 3,000 students live on campus in one of the 21 residential facilities managed by Housing and Residence Life. First and second year students are required to live on campus, and housing options include: traditional residence halls, suites, and apartments. Housing and Residence Life aims to create safe, inclusive, and dynamic communities that empower students' wholistic development through social engagement and experiential learning. The housing selection process is a large process that takes place over the course of several months with much preparation needed beforehand. The process opens in November for upper division students, February for rising sophomores, and May for incoming new students.


Traditional In-Person Processes

At Gonzaga University, the Housing and Residence Life (HRL) team takes pride in providing great customer service to their residents. As requests for housing accommodations increases, it's averaged that about 1 in 13 residential students have an approved accommodation request. Historically, in order to provide the best service to this group of students as possible, the HRL team would host an in-person, hands-on process to support students with accommodations approved by the Disability Access office. After a student meets with Disability Access, the HRL office receives documentation on the approved type of accommodation for the students and completes their placement. However, with such a demand for housing accommodations, the HRL team searched for a more efficient way to accurately assist these students.

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

Lisa Owens, Associate Director, Gonzaga University

While inviting students for an in-person meeting provided a supportive high-touch experience, there were also quite a few challenges that were presented as a result. Students frequently missed class to maintain their place in line, complicating the task of presenting them with all the viable accommodation options. This process proved to be time-consuming for both students and staff, and over the years, the number of students requiring approved accommodations steadily rose. Each student had to individually meet with a staff member to assess the available options and make a selection.

Additionally, during the early months of the pandemic, the traditional in-person room selection process became unfeasible, as students had already vacated the residence halls. In response, the Gonzaga team swiftly adapted and transitioned the entire process to their StarRez online student portal.

The Transition 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.

Improving Student Experiences

With their new process, 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.