One hundred and eighty-nine students were offered a spot in a College House  this past Monday, when decisons were released to the 321 applicants vying  for only 200 available spaces. 

Of the eight College Houses, Howell House was the only house that was with empty beds and will have available spaces in the Chem-Free lottery next Thursday. Students who choose to live in Howell via the regular housing lottery will be able to choose before August if they want to assume the responsibilities of a house member or simply be a resident.

Director of Residential Life Mary Pat McMahon said that the College House committees—composed of students, faculty members, deans and the Residential Life staff—chose students based on their interest and enthusiasm “in being in that house community,” as well as “what we perceive as the prioritization, time commitment, and sort of style and energy that students are bringing to the house.”

Olivia Pfeiffer ’16, who is living in Quinby next year, said that the process seemed “pretty subjective.”

“I know a lot of people that didn’t get in that I think would have been really great members of any of the houses,” she said. “I’m lucky that it worked out for me, but a lot of people didn’t feel that way.”

According to McMahon, a crucial part of the College House application process was the interviews, in which each block was asked to present a project idea for its house. 

“A lot of people come in with complicated ideas,” said McMahon. “What we’re looking for in the interview is less about complicated and more about communication and shared enthusiasm for an idea.” 

Katie Carter ’16 will be living in Burnett House next year. She and her block proposed to hold an event titled “Not Your Average Info Session,” in which students would have the opportunity to ask a panel of students, faculty and staff about how to secure science research jobs over the summer.

“We’re all pretty like-minded, so when we had to come up with the project idea for the interview, we all focused on a science-oriented event,” said Carter.

The Office of Residential Life also took into consideration students’ ability to adapt to the new floating floor model, in which each floor of a first-year brick will be assigned to a different College House starting next year. 

“For me, personally, the houses are going to have to be that much better at communicating and anticipating challenges. They can’t rely on one stationary, static block of affiliates,” said McMahon. “I was looking in applications and interviews for people who could communicate and pivot and think broadly about how to reach people.”

Pfeiffer said that her block addressed the floating floor model by proposing to host themed movie nights each Thursday.

“We talked about how it would be a good way to incorporate people from different buildings,” she said.

The Residential Life staff encountered an unexpected glitch during the College House application process this year when a student on the house admissions committee notified some applicants of their decisions before they were released. 

“We have [the students on the committee] sign confidentiality agreements and…be very clear about the fact that they cannot talk about house decisions that are happening, and if they do it’s a social board violation,” said McMahon. “This is the first year where I’ve had an experience where a student couldn’t not tell people what happened.”

Pfeiffer was not involved in the incident, but said that she knows other students who learned of their decisions earlier than Monday. 

“I was just kind of annoyed,” she said. “When we found out that some people knew [earlier], we were like that’s not really fair…Why do we have to wait until Monday?’” 

McMahon said that the incident “was very challenging…because it puts me in a position next year where I have to think about how students can be involved” in the College House decision process.
Despite the incident, the College House process continued as scheduled. Residential Life expects to make offers to students on the waitlist for Howell House early next week.