This year’s housing draw left 14 rising sophomores without rooms for next year. The students are all women picking in as five separate groups. The situation was settled last night.
Director of Housing Thomas McEvoy said the lack of rooms is partly because of the gender breakdown of the room draw groups, and also because fewer seniors are living off campus next year than anticipated.
McEvoy met with the individuals and said he intends to resolve the situation as soon as possible. Seven will live in the faculty housing in Greylock, four will live in faculty housing in Prospect and three are waiting until July to see what housing opens up.
McEvoy said he did not know this housing shortage would occur until the second night of room draw. “Because of the male/female breakdown, female spaces were lacking. There was no way to control it.”
The group with the last pick was able to secure rooms because it was comprised of five men. Still, they were forced to split up into four different dorms. Tom Douglas ’01, who was at the very bottom of the housing list with pick 146e, said, “At least I have a room. I was more worried when I showed up and Tom McEvoy said there was a crunch.” He added, “They were really nice about it.”
The five female groups ahead of Douglas were not so fortunate. Katie Kelly ’01 was in a group of four females who had pick 143. “We got there and stared at the sheets trying to figure out where we were going to live. Then Tom McEvoy called us over and said there was a possibility there might not be enough housing.” Kelly went on to say, “As the night progressed, we knew.”
Kelly said she was told rooms might open up when some students decide to withdraw from the College. But this will not be confirmed until July. “July’s pretty far away,” Kelly said.
McEvoy listened to the concerns of the students when he met with them last week. “Since most of them felt that waiting for an assignment to a room that would become available through attrition just brought on too much pressure, we are doing our best to work on creative solutions this week,” he said.
There have been rumors circulating about converting faculty houses, the economics department’s Fernald House, and setting up modular units on campus, but McEvoy said there is no truth to these rumors.
Housing at Williams has undergone some changes over the years. McEvoy explained, “Rising sophomores used to be assigned an affiliation with a house or a cluster of houses.
Once assigned to an affiliation as a rising sophomore, that was your affiliation for the rest of your Williams years.” He said students signed up for housing at their respective houses and that each house had different rules. He added, “Unfairness was pervasive.”
McEvoy said there are a number of strengths in the current housing process at Williams. One that he mentioned was the range of choices given to rising juniors and seniors as well as the fact that groups of friends can choose to live in a dorm together. He added, “Selection is entirely above board. Although the lottery system is arbitrary, students understand it and it is fair, in the sense that all members of a class have the same chance of being in group one or in, say, group 146.”
McEvoy said there are no plans to change the housing process in the future, stating that a survey done by the Dean’s Office a few years ago showed satisfaction with the current system.
However, he did note one weakness of the current system. “It seems to put lots of pressure on students. The intensity of a long wait to see where you will live next year peaks on room draw night. While it is fun for most, it is pretty painful for others.”
The decreased target class size for next years incoming first-years is partly due to the rooming situations which developed at this year’s room draw.