We've noticed them, too: the private debates, the somber phone conversations, the dining hall conferences, even the tears. Despite what has easily been the balmiest weather of the year, an Eeyorian cloud has hung over a number of Bowdoin students all week, reminding everybody that Housing Lottery season?the stormiest of all seasons?has once again arrived.
For many students, but first years in particular, Housing Lottery season is a crash course in diplomacy. There are many things to take into consideration, foremost among which is how to create a housing block without shutting anybody out or hurting someone's feelings. While sophomores and juniors may already have an inner circle they can count on, forming housing blocks can force some first years into the awkward process of selecting "favorites" from among the many friends and acquaintances they have made over the course of the year. Rising juniors, meanwhile, struggle to compromise housing preferences with study-abroad schedules and those of their friends. At the top of the food chain, seniors compete for the prestigious spaces some have coveted since their first year at Bowdoin.
This scramble to finagle an ideal living situation, combined with the wearying bureaucracy associated with it, can put an enormous strain on friendships. The Housing Lottery may not be the most stressful time of the year?but then again, course registration and exam periods are personal struggles, and students have much more control over their outcomes. In housing, students face the housing issue as groups, and they are helpless to influence the process. If things don't turn out as hoped, frustration can take the form of squabbling, resentment, and passive aggression. After all, in a fast-paced, communal atmosphere that can be draining at times, people take the quality of their private dwellings very seriously.
But for students who feel emotionally taxed by Housing Lottery season?especially first years, for whom the process is newest and perhaps most challenging?maintaining perspective is crucial. If you did not get to live where you had hoped, do not despair. Objectively speaking, there are very few, if any, "bad" places to live on campus. While certain residences are held in deservedly high esteem and others less so, the differences in quality within Bowdoin's housing options are really quite small?certainly too small to generate any legitimate animus among friends or between competing blocks.
Being comfortable in your own home is important. But for students who walk away from this year's lottery frustrated, beware of self-fulfilling prophesies. Students can't choose a good lottery number, but they can choose how to react to a bad one, and an optimistic attitude can go a long way toward spinning bad lotto luck into positive returns.
The editorial represents the majority view of The Bowdoin Orient?s editorial board, which comprises Steve Kolowich, Anne Riley, Anna Karass, Adam Kommel, Mary Helen Miller, Joshua Miller, and Cati Mitchell.