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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Freshman Orientation Guide: Finding a roommate

For many incoming freshmen, anxiety about coming to GW often revolves around who students will live with during their first year. But a website launched in 2009 and co-founded by two 2008 University of Miami graduates aims to ease those housing woes.

The website,, employs a similar format as online dating sites, seeking to connect college students with potential roommates by using survey responses and matching students together based on their responses.

Justin Gaither, co-founder of the site, said he created the website to help students identify compatible roommates at college campuses across the country. He said unlike Facebook, URoomSurf filters through the numerous incoming students to find matches.

“We had the idea when we saw the roommate survey posts in the freshman class Facebook groups,” Gaither said. “It just doesn’t make sense to read through every response to the survey, and so we figured, ‘Let’s come up with an easier solution that will benefit everyone.'”

URoomSurf has over 80,000 registered users from over 700 colleges in the U.S. including GW, Gaither said.

Incoming freshman Craig Sandler said he used the website but was turned off by the membership levels.

While it is free to take the matching survey and to search and review matches, viewing other users’ complete profiles and sending and receiving messages costs a one-time fee of $4.95. A premium membership, which includes detailed comparisons between you and your matches’ survey answers, changing your school network and retaking the matching survey, costs $9.95.

“I would use [a site] like this, but URoomSurf specifically would need to make some alterations to their format,” Sandler said.

Sandler, and 600 other incoming freshmen, requested a specific roommate on the housing application, Director of Housing Programs Seth Weinshel said.

Incoming freshman Mark Andrew, who is from New York, said the concept that potential roommates are automatically matched rather than reading through the surveys was good, but the website was poorly executed.

“They slowly started making everything unavailable unless you subscribed and gave them money,” Andrew said. “I feel like there should be a substantial amount of questions, to see if you really match.”

The website also received criticism from college admissions and housing officials earlier this year, who said the site created “unrealistic expectations about the college’s ability to match them with the classmates they had found on URoomSurf,” according to an article published on in February.

URoomSurf said on its website that it cannot guarantee matches on the site will be paired together as roommates by their respective universities.

Gaither said an estimated 60 percent or more of student users polled submitted mutual roommate requests to their schools’ housing offices. The website does not keep track of whether or not the students are paired together by their schools.

Gaither said responses have been positive and the URoomSurf team hopes to expand.

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