Housing lottery to likely be changed

David Holstein

Members of the Housing Policy Advising Committee are hoping to take another step toward eliminating the housing lottery today when they meet to discuss alternatives to the much-maligned system, a housing official said Thursday.

The committee’s seven students and two Residential Life administrators will brainstorm ideas for replacing the current housing placement system, as well as research and compare strategies found at other universities, said Director of Residential Life Gregg Kindle.

By the end of the month, they will present their findings to the Board of Trustees for review, said committee member Courtney Brunsfeld, a Weinberg junior.

Students complain that the current system of fishing in a bucket for one of 4,000 little red tickets relies too much on luck and not enough on their own needs, she said.

“It’s one of the greatest sources for student dissatisfaction on campus,” said Brunsfeld, the Associated Student Government student services vice president.

One option the committee will discuss involves integrating Internet technology into the new system. This concept would make registering for housing much like registering for classes on CAESAR. Students would be given a specific time to log on to the Web site, and from there they could see what openings are available in which residence halls. This option would give students more control over where they end up living, and at the least do away with the luck-of-the-draw aspect of the current housing placement system, Kindle said.

But even thinking about replacing the housing lottery would not have been possible without the construction of the Benjamin W. Slivka Hall, which will replace Lindgren Residential College of Science and Engineering. Lindgren Hall will remain, but Slivka Hall will become the residential college.

Slivka’s 140 new beds should ensure that all upperclassmen who want to live on campus will be able to, Kindle said. NU alumnus Ben Slivka and his wife, Lisa Wissner-Slivka, donated $4 million to construct Slivka Hall.

“From a numbers perspective, (Slivka Hall) looks really encouraging,” said Kindle, adding that past housing shortages have forced upperclassmen to wait for a spot to open.

Speech sophomore Lindsay Bosch pulled a number around 3,500 in last year’s lottery but luckily was able to remain in Willard Residential College, which uses a system different from the lottery.

“Having people pull numbers out of a bag seems king of outdated,” Bosch said.

With the addition of Slivka, about 2,340 non-Greek living spaces will be available for upperclassmen. Kindle said the new residence – despite setbacks this year that included stolen blueprints and vandalism – will be completed by late August.

“We’re right on schedule,” Kindle said.

The new building will greatly increase the capacity of the residential college, which this year housed about 30 residents.

Many of Lindgren’s 30 students are excited about moving to Slivka’s superior facilities which feature a room with science equipment, a coffee shop and stage space for performances, resident Louis Terry said.

Today’s committee meeting also will address the residential college’s transition. The addition of Slivka may alleviate the waiting list, but the reality is that NU’s residence halls vary in quality and that can cause another problem, Brunsfeld said. Students still will favor newer buildings such as Slivka and Kemper over older dormitories.

“Everybody wants to live in a nice dorm,” Brunsfeld said. “We’re still stuck in a situation where not everyone will like their housing.”