Room Draw Process Chaotic Despite ResLife Modifications

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Author: Rachel Kaplan

About 50 students remained without housing for the 2010-2011 academic year at the conclusion of Residence Life and Housing’s (ResLife) room draw on Sunday, March 28, an event that was described by some students as chaotic.

“It was completely disorganized. I was there for about three hours waiting in line,” Isadora Zanon (first-year) said.

Assistant Dean of Students Tim Chang said that ResLife was not prepared for the amount of students who applied for housing.

“The room draw could have gone better, honestly,” he said. “We did not anticipate that there would be as much demand as there was, and as a result, it led to a delay.”

ResLife urged patience to the 50 students currently without housing.

“We’re calling them in now, 10 students at a time. We’re still continuing the room draw process, just at a slower pace,” said Housing Services Coordinator Ross Maxwell. “We want to give people the opportunity to look through what’s still available and pick the room accordingly.”

Another ResLife official, Michella Saldana, said that although the initial room selection took place March 28, the entire process is far from over.

“Room draw is a process. It’s not just what happened on Sunday,” she said, “May 14 is our cancellation deadline, so until then, we won’t know how much is available.”

ResLife modified the room draw process to ensure that class year would not affect room selection. Available residence halls were separated into thirds, with an equal amount of rooms reserved for each class. Due to these room reservations, students’ draw numbers mattered only within their class’s choosing pool, as opposed to last year’s system, which gave upperclassmen first priority for all rooms.

On the day of room draw, students were led into a Rangeview common room in small groups to choose rooms, but according to some, this process was poorly executed and may have resulted in selection that did not occur in the correct order.

“It was so disorganized that people were cutting and [ResLife did not start] checking numbers after 100, so who knows how many people cut in front before that?” said Christian Martinez (sophomore).

Although these changes to the process of room draw were meant to assuage last year’s student complaints concerning sophomore and junior housing options, the new system was purportedly ineffective.

“I went with a senior so I got to go early in the morning, and I really wanted to live in Erdman. The room I really wanted was open but they wouldn’t let me have it because all the senior rooms were already taken,” Margaret Winterkorn (first-year) said.

However, ResLife supported the change in procedure.

“We know that students are not going to be happy, but we really tried to create an equitable process for students to select rooms, which meant that each of the spaces of each room type would be available to seniors, juniors, and the rising sophomore class,” said Saldana.

Despite the many professed frustrations, not all students were upset with the room draw’s execution. “It ended up pretty good. I got the dorm that I wanted and I got the same roommate, and they didn’t split us up,” Krista Weiss (sophomore) said.

Students bombarded the Oxy Housing Facebook page with complaints and questions regarding the event, leaving almost 72 comments that expressed emotions ranging from anger to understanding to concern.

“Oxy Housing couldn’t have screwed up more,” wrote Thomas Yu (first-year). Later in the thread, Yu left another comment. “This is too frustrating. Too many contradictions, too many questions unanswered. Oxy Housing is a disappointment.”

In an effort to improve the system, ResLife said that next year’s room draw will be a longer, slower process that will hopefully prevent this year’s setbacks. However, there are risks.

“We will be having a registration process for seniors because juniors will be required to live on campus. Depending on the number of first-years we let in, our housing may be limited for seniors,” Saldana said.

According to Chang, other potential changes are being discussed, such as a possible non-refundable deposit fee to participate in room draw that could be valued anywhere from $100 to $500. “This is to discourage people from taking a space when they know they will not be using the space,” he said. “If you keep the space you selected, the deposit is credited to your Fall housing charge.”

According to Chang, an additional policy being considered is to allow qualified juniors (based on GPA, judicial history and leadership on campus) to apply for exemption from the three-year housing requirement.

Additional reporting by Dean DeChiaro.

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