Few surprises at housing draw

Mary Catherine Blanton Photo Editor

Last week’s housing draw held few surprises for most students, though the conversion of about 30 singles into doubles reversed some of the past years’ housing trends, putting many rising sophomores into row houses and seniors into Greylock. Those with higher picks inevitably left the draw most satisfied, but on the whole most students found little cause for complaint. Planned construction in the Greylock Quad area, which some students had predicted might cause juniors to choose to live in Mission, did not significantly affect the room picks.

Last Tuesday night those rising seniors not living in co-ops or off-campus next year chose their rooms. Among the most popular choices were the singles in the row houses and smaller houses such as Chadbourne and Woodbridge. Rooms in Dodd House, Prospect, Fitch and Currier also proved popular.

Because of the number of singles converted into doubles, however, a significantly higher number of seniors than usual were left to pick into Greylock, which is traditionally occupied by juniors. “Even Bryant was filling up pretty fast,” said Rachel Gealy ’04, whose group was one of the last to make it into the Greylock house before it reached its gender limit. “It should be fun to live in a house with so many seniors even if it’s in Greylock,” she added.

Other seniors resorted to living in doubles in order to avoid living in Greylock. “We both didn’t really care if we got singles,” said Steph Hall ’04, who chose to live in a double in Spencer. Though happy with her choice, Hall expressed concern that some of the last rising sophomores to pick ended up with doubles as singles. “I don’t understand how that is really fair,” she said.

But while some seniors abandoned traditional housing trends, most juniors followed convention by living in Greylock despite the upcoming construction. “I think the thing that most people are happy about is that almost our whole class will be together,” said Jason Davis ’05, who will be living in Carter.

A few juniors did choose to live in Mission, however, and while the number may not reflect a high percentage of the class, it is still far larger than in years past, when only one or two juniors would live in the complex.

“I chose to live in Mission because the construction in Greylock is going to be terrible next year, and it’s going to be nice and quiet here,” said Ryan Gordon ’05, who will soon be a two-year Dennett resident.

Norma Lopez, assistant Dean of the College, estimated that the total number of juniors in Mission came to about 13 , and said “there were far fewer [juniors in Mission] than I expected. I. . . [think there were] many more that debated the issue at room draw but ultimately chose not to live there.”

By the time the final round of room-draw occurred last Thursday, rising sophomores mostly had the choice between Mission singles and doubles in row houses, Dodd House and the Berkshire Quad. When Mission filled up quickly, as usual, the conversion of singles into doubles led to many rising sophomores with low picks finding the row houses to be their best option. Aaron Marshall ’06 was one such student and will be living in a converted double in Spencer. He commented, “We didn’t get a good pick, but we’re happy to have ended up in a row house. It may be weird living with upperclassmen, but we’ll have a central location and be able to get into parties easily.”

Emily Novik ’06 also expressed a wish for more housing options, but she admitted to having been extremely lucky to have gotten one of the converted doubles in Agard with pick number 152. “I’m very happy with the rooms that we got in Agard, although I’d be happier being closer to the rest of the sophomore class, like in Prospect. Also, it would have been great had there been more singles left. The College needs to build another dorm or something,” she said.

Even many of those who were able to secure singles expressed disappointment over the change in room offerings. “I’m angry at the administration for the way they sprung changes to the room draw on us – waiting until Tuesday morning to announce the doubles change, which left everyone scrambling,” Grant Eskelsen ’05 said. “I would have picked into a single in a row house just to be away from the construction, but that wasn’t an option. They also need to give us Bascom House back.”

One rising senior also expressed discontent with the changes: “The new doubles leave premium places, like Brooks, being dominated by upperclassmen. Additionally, the new rule this year that no one can pick into a double as a single until the end of the rising sophomore class seems unfair. I understand that the previous system led to many doubles being used as singles, but I think that the marginal benefit of preventing these situations is severely outweighed by the injustice of giving away the rising seniors’ right to rooms in row houses to rising sophomores.” Because of this rule change, a few sophomores with very low picks were delighted to find themselves capable of choosing a double as a single, while some rising seniors will be living with roommates.

Another touchy issue this year was gender-balancing; as the College attempted to keep houses balanced with a 60/40 ratio, many of next year’s row houses seem to be dominated by members of one sex. Specifically, more than twice as many males as females picked into both Perry and Garfield, and Brooks and Wood are each composed of more females than males. Galen Thorp ’04, housing coordinator (HC) of Perry next year, said. “I’m not entirely sure why Perry is so imbalanced. . . people don’t mind living near members of both genders, but their first choice for suitemates tends to be of their own gender. This phenomenon has the most impact on row houses because they are so small. It only takes two or three groups of the same gender to make the house appear extremely imbalanced.”

Lopez, who coordinated the housing draw, explained the gender-balancing confusion further. “Some students have done the math using the number of men and women currently picked into a particular house, and those numbers may be off because there may be empty beds in that house. Once the house reached the gender cap, it may have had two doubles left that would only be open to the opposite gender,” she said.

Despite small concerns such as confusion about gender balancing, the actual housing draw had few hitches. However, students expressed concerns over the changes in housing pattern, as the conversion of singles into doubles left far more seniors in Greylock than usual, as well as far more sophomores with roommates. But it is likely that fewer single rooms will persist for the next few years due to the over-enrollment of the Class of 2006.