Housing outcomes contain surprises

Abbie Vansickle

So you pulled number 1,500 in the housing lottery. Don’t worry – you can still get into Kemper Hall.

The numbers are in, and Kemper was the last building to close in this year’s housing lottery. Kemper, which has been the most popular dorm since it was built two years ago, plunged to the bottom of the list. This year the cutoff numbers for Kemper are 1,900 for men and 2,043 for women, compared with last year’s cutoff numbers of 16 for men and 37 for women.

Why the sudden drop? Students don’t want to live in Kemper if they don’t have a single, said Mark D’Arienzo, associate director of undergraduate housing.

“Kemper was very popular if you had a single,” D’Arienzo said. “But if students realized they would get a double, I don’t think the interest was as high as before.”

The cutoff numbers for Kemper weren’t the only change in this year’s lottery. Sargent Hall jumped from near the bottom of the last year’s list to become this year’s most popular women’s dorm. 1835 Hinman was the most popular dorm for men.

D’Arienzo said that this year’s housing lottery has “been rough.”

He attributed the skewed numbers to a new housing policy that blocks freshmen from living in Kemper and the loss of housing at 1856 Orrington and 710 Emerson. The new sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, will be moving into 710 Emerson, and the 710 Emerson residents will be moving into 1856 Orrington.

“Eighty six freshmen had to be redistributed (from Kemper),” D’Arienzo said. “We lost the freshmen spaces in Kemper, 1856 Orrington and 710 Emerson. It’s a big change where freshmen are going. It’s uncharted territory for us all.”

The loss of these spaces forced the housing office to look elsewhere for spots. Officials found spaces in several of the larger dorms, including Allison Hall and Sargent. The housing office tried to place freshmen in dorms with a high student-to-residential-assistant ratio.

D’Arienzo said this year’s lottery amazed even him.

“Sargent was the first building to close (for women) – that was my biggest surprise,” he said.

In another surprise, fewer students returned to residential colleges this year. The residential colleges were hard hit, but D’Arienzo said the lack of returning students is fortunate because incoming freshmen can fill the spaces vacated by upperclassmen. Without those free spaces, the lottery could have been “very interesting,” he said.

D’Arienzo said he also was optimistic about the number of students on the waiting list. Even though there are more students on the waiting list this year, D’Arienzo guaranteed that everyone on the list would get housing.

“I need a waiting list,” D’Arienzo said. “Not a big one, but big enough to make sure we’re full.” There are 102 men and 98 women on the waiting list.

He said a waiting list is necessary to fill in the spaces that will be vacated by students who transfer out of Northwestern or students who drew numbers but are now living in apartments.

Despite his housing guarantee, D’Arienzo said he expects his phone will be ringing off the hook by Monday with students with housing questions, especially those who requested a single but were placed in a double.

“If students only wanted a single and were assigned to a double, I must explain to them that first they are assigned a building, then they are assigned a room,” D’Arienzo said.

Even though he expects to field many questions, D’Arienzo said he is happy with the work he put into the lottery and hopes that students will be satisfied.

“I think I got people into the buildings they belonged in based on the numbers,” D’Arienzo said. “Yee-haw!”