Winning the campus housing lottery

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February 3, 2011

11:39 PM

The beginning of February marks everyone’s favorite time of the year — the housing lottery. Signs in residence halls everywhere remind students that Feb. 18 is the deadline for making the $200 housing deposit. Residence Life sends out mass e-mails informing students of changes in rooming policy. However, despite all of this available information, many students remain uninformed about frequently confusing room selection process. The most important action students can take to protect themselves during the housing lottery is to educate themselves about the process and their options.

Last spring, ResLife announced that rising sophomores would be reinstated into the housing lottery after getting waitlisted, or “bumped,” before rising juniors. This came as a surprise to most of the current juniors, since the sudden reversal in policy meant they would get the short end of the sick, being reinstated last both their sophomore and junior years. This was determined by a poll sent to student’s e-mail accounts the semester before the housing selection process. The fact of the matter is that older students tend to participate less in the countless email surveys that are sent to students, meaning freshmen were more likely to make their voices heard to try to protect themselves in the housing lottery process.

This year a similar survey was given, and I must admit that the only reason I took it was to protect myself from being “bumped.” The results of the survey were sent to students by email Feb. 2. The most controversial aspect of this e-mail was the decision that “students who select to live in voluntary overcrowds should not be protected from the wait list process.” The e-mail also stated that the only people who will still be protected from wait listing are rising seniors, students with medical needs and students studying abroad for the spring semester.

If you are afraid of being put on the wait list, there are opportunities you may not have considered that can ensure your place in on-campus housing next year, for example, special interest housing. Special interest housing includes language housing, community scholars housing, fraternity and sorority housing, the Eco House and several other options. Interested students should look into these choices, and given the diversity of these options, they can probably find one that will best fit their individual needs. The main point to remember when applying for special interest housing is that those housing processes start long before the regular housing process. Several of the special interest houses require student interviews and essays on top of a separate lottery process. Students need to decide early if they want to apply for these options and should become informed promptly about deadlines and requirements.

The room selection process can be frustrating, infuriating and stressful. I know that in many cases it results in tears and resentment, as even the most carefully laid plans fall apart without a good lottery number. The lack of adequate housing at the College is an issue that needs to be addressed. Simply discussing plans for new fraternity housing is not helping students who will be applying for on-campus housing this semester. Students can only hope that Tribe Square, currently under construction next to Wawa, will ease some of the pain associated with the shortage of on-campus rooms. While students wait for these issues to be addressed, however, they can make the process easier on themselves by becoming informed about ways to protect themselves. Simply hoping for the best is not a productive course of action. Students should read ResLife e-mails, visit the campus housing link on the College’s website, and consider all of their options early in the housing process. At the very least, students need to have a back-up plan in case they go to look at their lottery time, only to realize it’s the very last sign-up block.

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