OSL splits housing selection system into three separate lotteries

Nandini Seetharaman

This year’s on-campus housing selection process will be divided into three separate lotteries: a rising seniors lottery, a doubles lottery and a general lottery, Office of Student Life (OSL) Director Douglas Schiazza announced in a Jan. 4 campus-wide email.

In response to issues with last spring’s housing selection process, which for the first time allowed individual students to pick one bed in a double room, leaving the other bed unfilled. OSL worked throughout the fall semester with the Upperclass Residential Life Advisory Committee (ULRAC) to make the changes to this year’s process. 

Between April 8–15, rising seniors will pick their rooms first in an exclusive lottery so that they have more choice with their housing and so that rising juniors and sophomores have more time to see which rooms have already been taken and plan accordingly. Rising seniors seeking to pick into housing with juniors and sophomores would have to wait to pick in during the general lottery.  Additionally, students who pick into a lottery may defer selection and pick their room in a later lottery.  “Once a student picks a room in a lottery, they can’t change that selection until the August lottery,” Schiazza confirmed.

After rising seniors pick, students who wish to live in doubles will have access to an April 15–21 selection period. According to the email, this doubles-only lottery gives “students who really want a double with a friend an earlier option for it, students who are anxious about the general lottery an option to select earlier with a friend … and groups of students a better chance of the group sticking together in nearby doubles,” Schiazza said. This earlier lottery is open exclusively to even-numbered pick groups. 

After the rising senior lottery and the doubles lottery, the rest of the rooms will go up in a general lottery period from April 22–May 5. Schiazza’s email explained that this selection period is spread out over two weekends “to allow double the time in the Housing Portal for each group before the next group has access, as well as give rising sophomores with later picks several days to strategize with their friends after the first weekend has transpired.” This increase in time comes as a response to student input asking for more time for planning and selection. This year there will be 10 minutes, rather than last year’s five, in the Housing Portal between pick groups.  

Schiazza explained the reasoning behind the changes. “The most significant issue raised [by students] was the impact of the rule change regarding doubles,” he said. “We’ve heard that concern loud and clear and have returned to the previous rule moving forward.” This year, across all three lotteries, doubles cannot be picked by an individual until all singles across campus have been filled.  If doubles are open after the doubles lottery, “students within pick groups can pick into doubles together,” Schiazza said. Furthermore, bed spaces in doubles will be open to all genders. Binary gender caps remain, however; each building cannot contain more than 60 percent male or female students. Nevertheless, this cap can go up to 60 percent plus one student if it avoids splitting a pick group. 

Garfield House will also return as an upperclassmen housing option. It is newly renovated and offers a mix of singles and doubles arranged in four-person and six-person suites, a full kitchen and a first-floor common room. However, the third and fourth floors of Morgan Hall will go offline for a roof replacement project. Due to the loss of these rooms, all flex rooms across campus will continue to be used as doubles for the 2019-2020 school year.

“Our hope is that the changes will reduce overall anxiety around the process by giving students more time to plan and options to consider with their friends, and by ensuring that students have little opportunity to pressure other students into not taking the other half of a double they selected individually,” Schiazza said.