OCL to grant more students housing points, adjust flex rooms, reintroduce doubles lottery

Max Billick

The Office of Campus Life (OCL) will award additional housing points to first-year students living with roommates in especially small doubles, which it will designate as flex rooms — rooms that can be used as either singles or doubles — for the next academic year. OCL will not proactively notify the newly-eligible first-year students that they are recipients of additional housing points until March 18, after the housing application is due on March 10.

OCL is also adjusting which rooms in upperclass housing can be used as flex rooms for the next academic year, converting some large singles into flexes and turning some flexes into singles or doubles, resulting in an addition of around 10 beds to upperclass housing. And, for the first time since 2019, OCL will conduct a separate housing lottery this year for students who intend to live in doubles together during the next academic year.


Awarding additional students housing points

Following inquiries from first-years living in especially small double rooms, OCL has adjusted the criteria for its housing points pilot program.

When the College first announced the pilot program last August, only students living in flex rooms used as doubles could gain additional housing points — at a rate of one point for each day the room is used as a double — to be used in the lottery for the next academic year. The program aims to provide students living in flex rooms used as doubles with better room selection times in the upcoming housing lottery, which should provide them with more options when selecting rooms.

However, due to an initial lack of precise measurements of room sizes in first-year housing, no rooms in Williams Hall or Sage Hall were designated as flex rooms when the program was announced. Following inquiries from students living in smaller rooms classified as doubles, OCL conducted more thorough evaluations of certain rooms and redesignated 28 Frosh Quad rooms and seven Mission rooms as flex rooms.

“We acknowledge these [rooms] were always labeled as ‘double,’ but they do fall within that realm of ‘this is tiny,’ and there should be a little extra credit given for that,” Assistant Director for Housing Operations Heather McCarthy told the Record.

These students have not yet been informed that they will receive housing points.


Adjusting flex rooms

OCL has adjusted which rooms are designated as flex rooms, increasing the College’s overall capacity by approximately 10 beds. Most flex rooms with areas over 160 square feet will remain doubles on a permanent basis, and most single rooms over 140 square feet will be designated as flex rooms.

While OCL uses square footage as its main guideline for determining whether rooms are singles, doubles, or flex rooms, it also considers specific cases such as odd angles and slanted ceilings.

“This fall, we inspected over 500 rooms … asking, ‘Can two beds fit in here? What would that experience be like? Would [the beds] be better lofted or bunked?” McCarthy said. The 40 rooms in Tyler Annex, most of which were reclassified as flex rooms when the building was converted to first-year housing this year, will revert to their previous status as singles. “We did an evaluation, and we don’t think [Tyler Annex] is the best place for doubles,” McCarthy said. “We’re going to reallocate those beds to other places that could be a better version of a flex room.”


Reintroduction of the doubles lottery

For the first time since 2019, the College will conduct a doubles lottery this year in which students may only pick into doubles that they must fill within their pick group. The doubles lottery will occur after seniors choose their housing during the general lottery but before other rising sophomores and juniors participate in the general lottery.

74 students participated in the doubles lottery in the 2019-2020 academic year, which was the first year that OCL implemented the system. OCL discontinued the lottery for 2020-2021 because all students lived in singles due to the College’s COVID-19 policies.

McCarthy told the Record that the doubles lottery will be reintroduced this year to prevent some students from living in doubles with students other than their intended roommate. Once all singles on campus are filled, OCL allows students to pick into doubles individually.

When many students pick into doubles individually, hoping that the other bed will remain empty, other students with a lower lottery number are often forced to split up with their intended roommate. If the lottery runs out of empty doubles, multiple pick groups may be split across doubles, and many students will live with a roommate they did not choose.

“A bunch of roommate groups that may have been willing to live with each other start separating… they’ll take five doubles as singles, instead of what would have been two and a half doubles,” McCarthy said. “That’s what forces the students with the lower numbers to then pick into those rooms with roommates they did not intend.”

McCarthy added that she expects full occupancy of on-campus housing this year, meaning that any student who attempts to pick into doubles alone runs a high risk of ending up with a roommate. The new doubles lottery, she said, will especially benefit rising sophomores, who have the lowest lottery numbers.

At the time of publication, 60 students have already signed up for the doubles lottery. The housing application is due on March 10.