Website helps match up dorm roommates at Southeast Missouri

Friday, August 20, 2010 | 10:57 a.m. CDT

CAPE GIRARDEAU — Pairing college roommates can be awkward at best. But now, Southeast Missouri State University is using a social networking site called RoommateClick — something of a combination of Facebook and eHarmony — to help match those with similar interests and lifestyles.

The Southeast Missourian reports that participants are asked questions aimed at determining how they like to study, if they like to party, where they would like to live.

They then connect with prospective roommates, and the university finds appropriate living space. Advocates say it gives the students control over a process previously the domain of residence life coordinators.

Southeast began with RoommateClick with a pilot program involving 200 students last year. The program tripled to 600 students this year.

Julia Derr, 18, of Arnold, looked tired Thursday after joining more than 1,100 first-year students moving into the university's residence halls.

"I'm going to have to take some of my stuff back home," she said. "I think I brought too much."

Her roommate, Aliciea Mahnken, 18, of Perryville, is also a freshman. The two met via RoommateClick.

"It's best to be honest so you get, like, the right roommate," Derr said of the questions the social network poses. "People look at your profile and e-mail you if they're interested."

Roommateclick was launched in 2006 by Lifetopia, a provider of housing software for higher education. It's growing list of contracts with universities also includes Missouri State in Springfield.

Bruce Skinner, director of residence life, housing and dining, said the majority of Southeast students find success in their living arrangements, based on the high number of returning students who request placement with their freshman roommates. In fact, the pairing with the most common conflict tends to involve longtime friends.

"They get here and, suddenly, they thought they passionately knew this person and now they passionately hate this person," he said.

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