JAs receive new housing benefit

Bellamy Richardson, Executive Editor for Features

In the 2019-2020 housing lottery, which began last week with the co-op lottery, all groups with at least one Junior Advisor (JA) will receive two pick numbers and use only the better of the two. The benefit, which the Junior Advisors Advisory Board (JAAB) has been working to implement over the past several weeks, is intended to be both an incentive and a reward for current and future JAs.

According to current JAAB members, they spent substantial time working to ensure that the system is both rewarding to JAs and fair to all other members of the lottery. “We worked substantially with OSL [Office of Student Life] to ensure that we were not rigging the lottery such that JAs are guaranteed higher picks,” JAAB member Will Burford ’20 said. “We wanted the lottery to be fair to all students, but for JAs to have a slightly improved chance of getting a higher pick number.”

JAAB co-president Ruairi OCearuil ’20 takes pride in this new benefit and appreciates the assistance from other organizations that helped put it in place. “The idea of improved housing for JAs during their senior year has been discussed for years and the fact that we were finally able to accomplish it, with the help of OSL and URLAC [Upper-class Residential Life Advisory Committee], is a big success for the JA program,” he said.

JAAB co-president Morgan Whaley ’20 added that she hopes that this benefit will remain a part of the JA program. “We see some part of it serving as an incentive to be a JA, [and] in some sense a reward,” she said. “You served as a JA for a year. People love their time as a JA, which is super great, but that is something to take into consideration, and so to kind of offset your willingness to do that your junior year…having an opportunity to live somewhere amazing with your friends senior year I think is pretty great.”

Since the housing benefit did not exist until this year, current JAs did not know about it when they applied for the job. “Even if I had known about a Junior Advisor housing benefit, it wouldn’t have influenced my decision either way,” said current JA co-president Surabhi Iyer ’21.

For some, the housing benefit may have provided a small incentive had it been enacted earlier. “It would probably make me more likely to apply, though not by much since this benefit comes after the JA year so it feels more like a thank you,” current JA co-president Peter Le ’21 said.

Sonia Nyarko ’21, also a current JA, noted that, while she appreciated the perk, it could have been more significant. “I think that JAs should, rather than getting two lottery numbers, get preference in housing, for both the co-op lottery and the senior housing lottery,” she said.

“I think that the purpose of a benefit of any kind is to show appreciation for Junior Advisors,” Iyer said. “The benefit is an important step in recognizing all the hard work that JAs do for the Williams community and the first year class in particular, and I hope we can continue to have these conversations as the year goes on.”

OCearuil reinforced Iyer’s point on behalf of JAAB. “Benefits like this are our way of continuing to recognize and thank Junior Advisors for the hard, un-paid, and often underappreciated efforts they put in every day to make Williams a better place,” he said. 

JAAB has also planned several events for JAs, including a JA formal that took place on Saturday and an upcoming JA homecoming event. Monthly JAAB and JA events are also underway. “We want these to be a time where JAs can talk with their JAAB members about current issues, or just have fun hanging out with each other,” Burford said. 

According to Ocearuil, this housing benefit is the first of many new initiatives from JAAB to give back to JAs. “As it currently stands, we have several projects that are in the works, which we are hoping to have put into place in the next month or two,” OCearuil said. “We believe that this is a promising first step towards showing our appreciation to these students that devote a great deal of time and energy to creating a sense of community on our campus.”