Campus life tweaks neighborhood change protocol

The changes to the neighborhood draw process developed by the Office of Campus Life and College Council (CC) last semester are currently being implemented as the due date for neighborhood change applications draws near.

In the past, there were multiple processes for switching from one neighborhood to another: two for first-years and a third for upperclassmen. The new system will standardize the process for changing neighborhoods and will strive to give students more input regarding their housing situations.

“Under the old system, there was little choice involved,” said Aaron Gordon, assistant director of Campus Life. “We tend to like to operate more out in the open, and this process lets students choose.”
To begin the neighborhood change process, students must fill out an application at the Office of Campus Life. Up to six students – from any neighborhood and class year – can form a group. When all applications are turned in on Feb. 23, Campus Life will determine how many spots are available in each neighborhood. Neighborhoods are both class and gender-capped, to maintain a balance across campus.

Each group will then be given a lottery number, which will be weighted by class years. Seniors will be given preference, followed by juniors, sophomores and first-years.

Groups with mixed class years will be in between, so that a group made up of half juniors and half sophomores will pick after the other juniors and before the sophomores. Students will later gather to pick into new neighborhoods.

“This structure will allow students to express their preferences and thus exert some personal control over the transfer process,” said Peter Nurnberg, CC co-president. “I think this change will make students a little bit happier about the neighborhood system and make them feel a bit more connected to the neighborhood they end up joining.”

Campus Life can only speculate about the number of students who will apply to change neighborhoods. “I can’t tell yet if this process will be more or less attractive to students than the old one,” Gordon said. “It just provides more transparency. I imagine that the [neighborhood draw] pool will be either very small or very large.”

The new neighborhood change system also contains a penalty stipulation. Each student is allowed one free neighborhood switch, free from penalty. For each switch after the first, however, a penalty weight will be added during the student’s room draw. This means that if a student wants to switch neighborhoods for a second time, the student will have a lower lottery number, and so will pick towards the bottom of the student’s class.

“The hope is that the penalty will encourage students to stay in one neighborhood – or at the very least consider carefully the choice to switch,” Gordon said.

Gordon noted that he had received few questions from students about the new process. Campus Life will hold an information session today at 4 p.m. in Paresky Auditorium.