Home Improvement

In light of the two updates that the Upperclass Residential Life Ad-hoc Advisory Committee (URLAAC) has sent to the student body regarding quiet housing and changes to the housing selection process, we at the Record want to take this opportunity to examine the changes that URLAAC has made and provide some recommendations for the future. We com- mend URLAAC for thoughtfully examining the Neighborhood system and making changes that seem to be in line with students’ needs.

We think that the decision to move Quiet Housing from West to Thompson House was an appropriate one. Location should not be a factor in a student’s de- cision to live in Quiet Housing, and UR- LAAC found that many people decided to live in West solely based on its central location on campus. The survey of Quiet Housing residents conducted by URLAAC indicated that only 43 percent of students said they would apply for Quiet Housing if it were in a less central location. Thompson will be able to accommodate the students who prioritize a quiet environment over all else. In a similar vein, we also appreciate URLAAC’s decision to change the Quiet Housing application process: instead of having a lottery, Quiet Housing applicants will now be required to write a short letter explaining why they wish to live in a quiet environment, allowing housing coordina- tors to prioritize applications.

Regarding the changes to the Neighbor- hood system, we at the Record are unsure if the “grandfather” clause is the best way to transition to the new process. The grandfa- ther clause will allow rising seniors to select housing from within their current neigh- borhood before the campus-wide housing selection process takes place. As we wrote last semester, allowing seniors to pick into their neighborhoods will give them little in- centive to participate in the general lottery (“Won’t you be my neighbor?” Oct. 9). Al- though this might not be the most efficient way to move towards the new open lottery system, once the transition is complete, we believe it will be a much more effective sys- tem than the past neighborhood lotteries.

Looking forward, we believe that there are several housing issues that URLAAC should examine. One of our concerns is how sophomores will fare in the general lottery. Although we do think it is fair that upperclassmen get priority in choos- ing their housing, we also think there should be a way to ensure that sophomore pick groups are not scattered across dif- ferent buildings on campus. Giving larger groups higher numbers in the lottery is one possible way to prevent this outcome.

With the implementation of the open lottery system, the role of the neighbor- hoods is sure to change. The neighborhoods were originally created to create communi- ties for upperclassmen who were missing the closeness of their entries. It is not clear if neighborhoods will still be able to fulfill that goal, given the possibility that a student could live in three different neighborhoods over three years. Although the Neighbor- hood Leadership Teams (NLTs) have been doing a good job planning events, we urge URLAAC to consider revising the role and title of the NLTs.

Another issue for URLAAC to consider is the problem of reasonable community expectations in the dorms. Maintaining civility and cleanliness in our living spaces is essential, particularly as a sign of respect for our hardworking custodial staff. An ef- fort should be made to educate the student body on how to appropriately transition to independent living. We suggest that a hous- ing contract be implemented, similar to the honor code signed by each student of the College at the beginning of the year. If every student signed a contract requiring them to uphold certain standards of living, it might be easier to hold students accountable.

Finally, we strongly recommend that URLAAC examine the lottery process it- self. As it currently stands, students wait in Paresky for their number to be called, watching rooms get crossed off on the floor plans. This process creates a great deal of stress for everyone involved, and we think it could be vastly improved through the implementation of an online system. There are plenty of colleges with large student bodies that utilize web interfaces for hous- ing selection. We believe that the imple- mentation of a web housing selection inter- face at the College would make the lottery process much smoother.

On the whole, URLAAC has looked at these issues thoughtfully, and we applaud them for their good work. We encourage them to continue examining and updating residential life at the College, and to make the appropriate revisions as necessary.