It used to be a rite of passage into college life.
You’d call up or e-mail your freshman roommate, trying to glean whatever details you could about him or her during brief conversations.
This year’s freshmen have familiarized themselves with their roommates without doing either.
Social networking sites like Facebook.com and MySpace.com give new students the chance to check out their roommates for the upcoming year.
And some students and their parents are unhappy about what they see.
University Housing spokesman Alan Levy said the University received about a dozen complaints from parents and students based on prospective roommates’ Facebook profiles.
Students were able to find out whom they would be living with at 4 p.m. on a day in late July. The first call came before 8 a.m. the next morning from a concerned parent who had immediately checked the Facebook profile of his child’s roommate, Levy said.
Levy said that when he talks to a new student who wants to switch roommates, he asks him not to judge based on the profile. There is “a certain drama attached to Facebook entries,” and students should not jump to conclusions, he said.
Even if students are unhappy after meeting their roommates in person, they are not allowed to change rooms until two weeks after moving in.
LSA freshman Zach Martin said he was concerned after his first glance at his two roommates’ Facebook profiles – he wasn’t sure they shared the same political beliefs or interests. But his concerns melted away as soon as they spoke.
“I had the opportunity to talk to them,” he said. “Everything worked out fine.”
One of his roommates, LSA freshman Shahniwaz Labana, said Facebook was helpful because he didn’t have to go into the process completely in the dark. Labana said Facebook is “a surface impression” and that there were differences between his expectations and the person behind the profile.
Although the technology is new, parent and student concerns are not. Levy said complaints have also been based on information ranging from the roommate’s address to comments made during phone conversations.
No room changes have been granted based on Facebook-related concerns, Levy said.
The University is attempting to adapt to students using Facebook and similar sites by sending them their roommates’ information earlier than ever before, giving students a chance to get to know their roommates in July instead of September.