Students who applied to live in College Houses for the 2017-2018 academic year received decisions from the Office of Residential Life (ResLife) on Monday. Those who were offered a spot in a College House were required to respond to their offers by Wednesday afternoon. For the first time, some students were placed on a waitlist, with the chance to be admitted to a House if other students rejected their offers.
The decision to make College House offers non-binding was a departure from previous ResLife policy. Assistant Director of Residential Life Mariana Centeno, who spearheaded the changes, wanted to give students more power in their decisions, although the system also creates more moving pieces and challenges for ResLife.
“Right now we’re going through these people who have turned down their offer,” Centeno said. “Round Two will be trying to figure out who we can move into the Houses to fill the spaces.”
She noted that the waitlist process is not first-come, first-serve. Instead, ResLife intentionally selects individuals off the waitlist in order to optimize dynamics in each House.
“We’re trying to find people who will fit into the House that has a spot for them, [and who] would also be happy in that House,” Centeno said.
On the waitlist, students are not grouped in blocks—rather, students are selected off the waitlist individually, and each makes their own decision as to whether they would like to live in a House. Centeno has been corresponding with students on waitlists to understand their preferences.
In the event that more students declined their spots than the number of students who are on waitlists, Centeno said spots in College Houses would be available during the Housing Lottery. However, she said that ResLife would not encounter such a problem this year.
“We have a couple people who declined and more than enough people on the waitlist,” Centeno said.
Howell House, the chem-free College House, did not receive enough applicants at the time of the initial College House application deadline, but Centeno is not concerned about filling the House. She said ResLife received more applications after extending the deadline and clarifying that the House is chem-free and that more spots were being filled this week.
The waitlist was not the only change to the College House process this year. During the first round of College House applications, students could apply alone or as a block of up to four to any College House. In the past, at least one member of a block of students had to have been affiliated with a House in order for the block to apply there.
While some students were fond of this change, others worried that it would perpetuate stereotypical identities of each House.
“[By] taking away applicant restrictions, [ResLife] made it easier for everyone who fit a traditional type of House—Baxter having all athletes and Reed having all [Bowdoin Outing Club] people,” said Sabrina Hunte ’20, who will be living in Baxter House next year. “Now that results have come out, I can see that the ResLife staff tried to mix it up.”
Beatrice Cabrera ’20, who is planning to live in MacMillan House next year, appreciated the opportunity to apply to any House.
“I like the new policy changes,” Cabrera said. “[It] means that people don’t make random friend groups just to get into their favorite House and that people are actually applying to the houses they’re interested in.”
Overall, Centeno felt like the process went well.
“From reading the applications, it seems like people were really happy to be able to apply to Houses they weren’t affiliated with … and happy with their agency in choosing which Houses they’d like to be considered for,” she said.