Three hundred students are set to switch neighborhoods

Approximately 300 students – 20 percent of all rising upperclassmen – will gather in Bronfman Auditorium this evening for the neighborhood draw, a new design for switching neighborhoods that involves a lottery. Under the system used the previous two years, students were either randomly reassigned to a neighborhood or pulled in individually to one specific neighborhood by a group from that neighborhood. This new lottery process was designed to allow students more chances to live with their friends, though no one is exactly sure how it will pan out.

This year, the neighborhood change process will run much like the room draw. There will be one process for all rising upperclassmen, all of whom have been assigned lottery numbers and will pick in to a neighborhood with a group of up to six students. “Ironically, it is very similar to the thing we did the year before the neighborhood system began,” said Aaron Gordon, assistant director of the Office of Campus Life.

Class and gender caps in each neighborhood will keep each one balanced. Once all spots, either for a specific class year or for a specific gender, are filled, students from that class year or gender will no longer be permitted to pick into that neighborhood. In addition to giving students more flexibility in their housing choices and more chances to live with their friends, Gordon also said, “Part of the goal of the neighborhood change system is to re-balance the neighborhoods as we get into room draw.”

The number of students entering the lottery has increased from last year, when 135 students requested neighborhood reassignment. According to Gordon, the difference is that more current upperclassmen applied for reassignment than last year.

A subject of much controversy on campus, the neighborhood system “has its pros and cons,” Gordon said. While many students are unhappy with their neighborhoods or the system in general, Gordon said that he has noticed “more diversity within buildings,” which was one of the original goals of the system. Still, “Students have struggled with housing issues a lot in terms of equitability or perception of equitability between neighborhoods,” he said.

Most students acknowledge that there are better places to live during different parts of their Williams careers. Khalid Bashir ’12 was originally in Dodd but has entered the neighborhood change lottery. “The reason I’m changing is because I don’t want to live in Tyler,” he said. “But I might regret it for upperclassmen housing if I want to live in Dodd.”

Michael Marchinetti ’10 wanted to live with more than six friends but is now not sure how likely that will be. “After losing co-op draw and not being in the same cluster, we are forced to split up, enter the neighborhood lottery, hope we get into the same neighborhood. Then we have to split up again and hope that we can at least live in the same building,” he said.