“You’re close to the laundry room. Literally, that’s the only good thing,” reads the one-star room review for Mudd-Blaisdell Rm. 59 on the Associated Students of Pomona College’s (ASPC) new Housing Reviews website, which was launched last week. The new online service provides students with the chance to comment on the positive and negative aspects of the rooms in which they’ve while at Pomona and rate them on a one- to five-star scale in five separate categories that include noise level, spaciousness, temperature, maintenance level, and cell phone service.
The site, which was officially launched on Monday, Oct. 24, is the result of an effort that began last semester to provide students with a housing review service similar to the course reviews currently offerred on ASPC’s website. According to last year’s ASPC North Campus Representative Caroline Rubin PO ’12, the idea was discussed by Senate in previous years but only brought up as a serious consideration last year.
“Last semester we decided as the Residence Hall Committee [that] it would be a great thing to have [a housing reviews site], so I brought it up in a Senate meeting,” she said. The idea was approved by Senate and ASPC Webmaster Joseph Long PO ’14, who was hired last year by ASPC to renovate its website, got the go-ahead to brainstorm preliminary designs for the site.
“Previous ASPC Senates had wanted to make this a project but they just didn’t have the resources,” Long said.
According to Long, the site was already running before the launch this week so that he could gauge activity and test-run the project. Several students had already posted reviews.
“We are using Google Analytics, which shows us how many visitors we’ve had and what they’ve been doing,” Long said. “The day the announcement went out there was definitely a spike in activity.”
Long began working on the Housing Reviews site last spring and had finished the project by the end of the semester, but the official launch was delayed.
“Due to lack of communication, we weren’t actually able to launch it until this year,” he said.
According to Long, the delay in launching the site was partly caused by technical difficulties experienced over the summer.
“[The ASPC] server died, so I took the opportunity to redesign the entire ASPC web page,” Long said. “Part of the delay in re-launching the housing reviews page was that I had to adapt it for the latest version of the web page design.”
The latest incarnation of the Housing Reviews site features a mobile version that works on iPhone and Droid. While the site used to have floor maps of all the residence halls, Long chose to exclude those from the current site due to inaccuracies in the maps. Once they are corrected, Long said he plans on adding the maps to the site.
Some early reviews on the site were simple and straightforward, covering basic facts like dimensions and proximity to facilities, while others were more blunt or less serious. One review of Rm. 316 B in Clark I gave off very positive vibes apart from the complaint that “the walls are very thin and having loud neighbors makes you want to kill yourself.” Other students have been using the site to express broader opinions on housing at Pomona: “I think Blaisdell is where Pomona puts all the students they don’t like,” reads a comment on Mudd-Blaisdell Rm. 142.
Some reviewers were more positive about the subtleties of their room. A comment for Rm. 113 in Smiley reads, “At a certain time of day, look out the window to see the clock tower which has a sudden glow about it from the sinking sun. It’s really beautiful and photogenic.”
Regardless of the variety of the feedback, Long said he hopes that more students will continue to update the site.
“It gets more useful every time someone adds a review,” he said.