Best dorms in NJ? Not so fast

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By Daris Mendez & Rebecca Panico

Kean University proudly displayed “#1 ranking for ‘Best Dorm Rooms’ among New Jersey public universities by Niche.com” on their website’s homepage from mid-January to Feb. 11, but ranked number three overall on Niche.com’s list.

Niche.com, previously and most commonly known as College Prowler, actually named Ramapo College number one amongst New Jersey college dorms. Kean University’s spokeswoman, Susan Kayne, justified why Kean had been publicizing itself as number one. According to her, Kean takes the top slot for public institutional rankings, not private.

“Niche ranks Kean’s dorms #3 in the state, inclusive of private and public colleges and universities,” Kayne explained in an e-mail. “Kean is the highest ranked public institution. We make it clear on the website homepage that Kean received the ‘#1 ranking for “Best Dorm Rooms” among NJ public universities’ by Niche.com.”

Ramapo College, however, is a public institution and declares that on their website. Addressing this fact, Kayne explained that the statement “#1 ranking ‘Best Dorm Rooms’ among NJ public universities by Niche. com” is still correct because technically Ramapo is not a university.

Kean’s official Facebook and Twitter pages displayed its correct ranking on Jan. 16. Kayne acknowledged the confusion between the different websites and explained that University Relations will work harder to make their messaging clearer.

“My team in University Relations is responsible for the website and social media content,” said Kayne. “We should have been consistent how we presented this information in all of our media vehicles… we will work harder to ensure consistent messaging.”

On Feb. 11, the statement on Kean.edu was also changed to display the number three ranking as a result of inquiries from The Tower, and for the students who have firsthand experience living in Kean dorms, the perceptions of this ranking have been mixed.

The Tower reported on the conditions of some of the dorm rooms last semester, including complaints about air conditioning and faulty elevators, and these students have expressed their dissatisfaction with Kean Dorms.

Some students believe, however, that Kean dorms are decent but don’t understand the discrepancies with the ranking.

“I think it’s great that Kean is ranked number three under NJ dorms,” said Natalie Sayantar, who lived in the new Upperclassmen Residence Hall. “This means that they could get a lot of students to check out the campus. Kean’s campus is beautiful and with the dorms being ranked #3, that is a bigger plus.”

Sayantar also explained her confusion with the statement of being ranked number one, explaining that number three is already a great spot.

“They [Kean] are only two steps below,” said Sayantar. “I personally don’t think Ramapo’s dorms are nicer than ours.”

Christopher Royster, a senior who lives in Rogers Hall also shares the same sentiment as Sayantar, despite living in one of the older residence halls.

“I think it’s great that we are ranked number three,” said Royster. “It shows that our dorms are kept in great shape.”

Niche.com’s methodology page explained that they used “more than 50 statistics sourced from various government and public data sets, Niche’s own proprietary data, and 11,857,508 opinion- based survey responses across 20 topics from 294,497 current students and recent alumni.”

The website weighted 70 percent on these unique student opinions through reviews. These reviews were made by niche.com users. The remaining 30 percent is distributed among statistics from the U.S Department of Education including average housing cost, housing capacity, and student housing crime rates.

According to Niche.com, 93 users completed the dorm survey for Kean, although it’s unclear if these users were Kean students. Niche.com’s registration process requires users to list what school they are enrolled in, but has no way of confirming if this is true.

Niche.com failed to respond to The Tower’s inquiries regarding when the study was conducted or how many Kean students participated in the survey.

The credibility of the website was questioned by Helder Jacinto on Kean’s Facebook page since Niche.com listed Kean in Union City, and not Union. Union City is located in Hudson County, while Kean is located in Union County.

“Let’s trust an article that gets the town that Kean is in wrong. If they don’t get the town right…the article lost all credibility,” commented Jacinto on Kean’s link to Niche.com’s study.


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