Along with final papers and presentations, the end of the year also brings another dreaded annual ritual: the housing lottery. For some, this year's lottery was particularly stressful. The College is suffering a housing crunch, leaving the Office of Residential Life to face the task of navigating through the difficulties.
Many students found themselves entering multiple lotteries, after their first choices had already been filled. Molly Seaward '09 entered both the chem-free and quads lotteries before selecting a double in Chamberlain.
"You think that freshman year your housing is the lowest you can get, but it's disappointing to be downgraded for your sophomore year," she said.
According to Director of Residential Life Kim Pacelli, next fall's housing crunch is caused by a combination of factors, including the renovations to the first-year dorms, imbalances in the number of students studying abroad in the fall and spring, and a slight decrease in the total number of students studying abroad.
Ultimately, Pacelli said, these factors forced her to add about 50 spaces to the current housing capacity.
Another issue Pacelli had been concerned about was whether the College would be able to provide chem-free housing for all of the students in the chem-free lottery, and she said that she was pleased to see that all the students who entered the chem-free lottery had that option.
However, Pacelli did deliver a stern lecture preceding the lottery about the discrepancy between the number of students who selected chem-free on their housing intent forms, and the number that entered in the lottery.
"I worry that students are gaming the system for the sole purpose of acquiring some of those [Howard] quads," Pacelli said.
"If chem-free were really the priority, we definitely give people the opportunity to pick it," she said.
The quads lottery, in which housing is usually available for most rising sophomores, also left some students scrambling for options at its conclusion, including many rising juniors and seniors. Liza Cohen '08 had hoped to choose a quad in the Tower.
"We were pretty sure we, [a block of eight], were going to get into the Tower because we were rising juniors, and we were counting on it," she said. "But now almost no rising juniors got into the Tower, so it's impossible for us to find a place as a block that we can switch into."
Kate Krosschell '09 bemoaned the drawn-out process of the lottery, which lasted almost three weeks from the first information session to the final lottery.
"I'm happy with the result [a Chamberlain double]; I just wasn't as happy with the process as I could have been," she said. "I think it could have been more condensed."
Pacelli said that this was one of the issues that she is trying to improve.
"One of the things we've talked about for next year is if we can shrink the amount of time over the course of days in which we run the lottery. There's a lot of advantage to shortening the amount of time that this process dominates student life," she said.
"There's a certain amount of lag time built into the system now, so I would be worried about reducing that flexibility. But this is the third year we've been doing this online; we feel more assured about the way it's working, and we might be able to condense that a little bit. It might increase the drama from lottery to lottery but condense the impact over the course of a few days," said Pacelli.
Although many students did not get their first choice of rooms, most were content with the final results.
"This gets a lot of people all riled up and intense, but things can work out," said Sharon Benjamin '08, who did not get her first choice of a Tower quad, but ended up in a Chamberlain double.
Others have chosen to eschew the lottery process altogether. Willy Oppenheimer '09 plans to continue living in the tent that has been his home for the last semester.
"Why would you possibly want to go through all of that trauma and psychological stress if you could simply just know that your home will be kept in a cardboard box over the winter, and then you'll set it up when you come back to school," he said.