Living on campus is an essential part of the Quest experience. Thus, most of the students live on campus the whole four years of the undergraduate degree. This allows us to know each other better, meet anytime for group work, and be active participants within the community. Quest University Canada has six residences including North Village, South Village, Ossa, Red Tusk, Riverside, and Swift Creek. Students have a wide variety of living options from single rooms, condo-style units, to full condos with their own kitchen and laundry facilities. Some of these buildings include different facilities such as bike storage rooms, a recording studio, a yoga studio, a dance studio and many more.
Incoming students, typically live in North, South, Ossa or Red Tusk. As aforementioned, North and South Villages are comprised of condo-style units, usually with two bedrooms and two bathrooms per unit. Each condo has a living room and a kitchenette. Alternatively, Ossa and Red Tusk Villages are mainly comprised of pairs of single rooms, which are connected by a shared bathroom.
Applied mathematics student (now alumni), Caleb Raible-Clark, and math tutor, Richard Hoshino, developed a program to match roommates, based on data from Residence Life entry surveys from incoming first years. A somewhat similar survey existed before, however, Raible-Clark and Hoshino took it a step further by quantifying the value of various preferences (ie: sleeping times and smoking) for incoming students, rather than simply stating those preferences. The main areas in the survey are social interaction, sleep preferences, room environment, smoking, and substance-free. The scale is from 1 to 5, for example “What are your sleep preferences?” from 1 (Morning Person) to 5 (Late Night Person), or “Smoking” from 1 (Never) to 5 (More than One per Day). By using the Greedy Algorithms, students are chosen and are assigned to the nearest match. Then the same is done to the next student, and the next, until all students are paired.
However, roommates are not matched based entirely on the Greedy Algorithm. The matches are first reviewed by the Admissions Counsellors, whom know the students very well because they have been working with them one on one during the Admissions process. Through working with the Admissions team this summer, I have seen all the Admissions Counsellors sit around a table for hours and hours, and review each roommate match. They read the comments students have written including interests, specific roommate requests, and health concerns. They pay great attention to detail, and make sure that students will share their room with someone compatible.
You would think that after the rooms have been created, all the work is done. I mean, after the Greedy Algorithm and Admissions Counsellors reviewing it, many hours have been spent towards matching roommates. However, now the matches are passed to Student Affairs, who review each match, read each person’s survey answers one more time, and then decide what floor each match should be on. It is a long, challenging, and tiring process. However, it is all worth it in the end.
I have often written and spoken about my roommates. They have been there for me when I needed someone to listen, they looked after me when I was sick, and even reminded me to believe in myself when I myself esteem was low. Katie invited me to her Thanksgiving and Christmas family dinners, Barbara taught me how to bake and cook traditional Brazilian dishes, and Alexandra let me borrow any of her office supplies whenever I needed. We got to know each other on a whole new level and even talked to each other’s family members in person or through Skype.
Richard’s June block, entitled Mathematical Problem-Solving, has fine-tuned the Algorithm in order to facilitate a practical application. I want to personally thank everyone who has worked so hard to create this survey, including Richard’s class. They have all put hours and hours of work into making sure that roommates are a great match, and I absolutely believe that this system will have amazing results.