First-years found to be involved in scheme to secure better housing

A group of first-year students, in conjunction with a sophomore, were able to secure one of the highest housing draw picks in their class by paying the sophomore to pick in with them.

According to sources within the group itself, Ben Doob’02, Travis Hobart ’02, Jeff McBride ’02, Patrick McCurdy ’02, Michael Simerman ’02, John Thomison ’02 and Jon Wiener ’02 each allegedly paid $50 or the equivalency to James Mackay ’01 to enter the housing draw with them. Since the draw is run on a random per-class basis, the group was able to secure a pick that was higher than any group made up entirely of first-years.

When directly asked about the situation, all members of the group responded by saying, “I have no comment.”

According to Director of Housing Tom McEvoy no student at Williams has ever been caught paying a student in another class to pick in with them.

Associate Dean of the College Stephen Sneed, who is filling in for Dean Peter Murphy this week, concurred. “To the best of my knowledge, this would be a first,” he said.

In response to a question about the general situation Sneed said, “If we determined that the students did do this I would be very disappointed. It shows the cleverness of some students to try to get an edge and that’s disappointing.”

McEvoy also voiced his concern in response to the hypothetical situation.

“The premise of the room draw has always been one of fairness. It’s not exactly fair if you are buying your way into a better pick. I think that’s inappropriate…We take pains to try to, as best as we can, make sure that none of exactly what you are talking about is going on,” McEvoy said.

McEvoy did acknowledge that he had heard rumors about a group of first years paying a sophomore to pick in with them preceding the housing draw that took place Thursday, April 15.

However, he was waiting for the actual draw to take place before looking closely at the housing groups. McEvoy left Williamstown Friday for a trip to Boston to meet with architects and did not return to his office until Monday afternoon.

At the time this article went to press McEvoy was preparing to present any information that he had assembled about the housing draw at a Dean’s meeting this morning.

According to Sneed, McEvoy is responsible for running the room draw and reporting any inconsistencies of which he is aware, but it is the Dean’s office who would eventually investigate the matter and bring about necessary disciplinary proceedings.

If an investigation were to take place, “it would be a very thorough investigation and it would be quick,” Sneed said.

Doob, Hobart, McBride, McCurdy, Simerman, Wiener and MacKay are all members of the men’s varsity swim team and had made their intentions for the room draw clear to many members of the team.

Joel Iams ’01, who is also a swim team member acknowledged, “They were looking for a rising junior so they could pick in with him and get the first pick in their class, and offered a cash incentive.”

According to the Williams College Student Handbook, “Each Campus-Wide Room Draw unit (individual or group) is assigned a point value between 1 and 3 according to the classes of the group members (Seniors, 1 point; Juniors, 2 points; Sophomores, 3 points). A computer program then assigns a random number to each unit, assigning the lowest numbers to units with the lowest point value. The random numbers determine the order of room selection.”

It is not very unusual for groups of students from different classes to pick in with each other, but they would end up choosing in between groups from their respective classes.