Housing lottery is ‘dead’, NU proclaims

David Holstein

Say good-bye to the housing lottery.

No longer will red tickets fished out of plastic bins decide where students will live.

Instead, the Office of Student Affairs is expected to approve a streamlined system this week that will give students more say and seniors more priority in housing assignments, members of the housing committee said Monday.

“The lottery is dead,” said Garth Miller, director of housing and food services. “(The new system) provides a great deal more flexibility and control to students in terms of where they get to live.”

The new housing process will take effect Spring Quarter, when students interested in living on campus next year will obtain an application card from either their resident assistants or the Undergraduate Housing Office.

After these cards have been distributed, students will have about a week to apply online for a random priority number that will be e-mailed to them once the Web site has closed. Students then will record their randomly-assigned number onto their application card.

Seniority, not the day of application, determines housing priority, said Mark D’Arienzo, associate director of undergraduate housing. Residence hall officers, multicultural advocates and other students with protected housing will receive senior status, he said.

Once priority numbers have been e-mailed, students will have another week to decide on roommates and living preferences. Students then will begin the two-week housing assignment procedure, D’Arienzo said.

The assignment period will be made up of four parts according to room types. The first few days will be set aside for assigning quads, triples, and Kemper Hall suites of single-occupancy rooms. The following three periods will decide who will live in non-Kemper singles, doubles, and all remaining spaces, respectively.

Organized by priority number, students will take their application cards to Annenberg Hall, where tables will be set up for each residence hall. Students can come to Annenberg on any of the four days to decide on a specific room after seeing what spaces are available.

“You’ll be able to actually choose your room at that point,” Miller said.

In groups of two or more, the roommate with the best priority number will act as the controlling party. Only one representative from a group will need to be at the appointment time, a moved designed to reduce congestion.

But Director of Residential Life Gregg Kindle said the additions of Kemper and Slivka halls should ensure that every student seeking housing will be accommodated, and that any waiting list would be short.

If a waiting list develops, he said, sophomores who want housing will have priority.

“We don’t want to put sophomores in a position where they might be pushed off campus,” he said. “We really expect to house everybody.”

The proposed system also penalizes students who back out of their housing contracts, especially those who represent the controlling priority number, D’Arienzo said. Students with the stronger number who back out of a signed housing contract will be fined the total yearly cost of their designated room, and their roommate will be placed on the bottom of the waiting list.

D’Arienzo said he hopes this will dissuade rising seniors from “selling” their priority to younger students.

D’Arienzo also said about 800 members of residential colleges, Greek houses, the Healthy Living Unit and other housing where residency is pre-assigned will be assigned housing through their residences, not the new system.

Committee member Courtney Brunsfeld said the changes allow students to have greater influence in the assignment procedure.

“Students will appreciate how much interaction they will have in the process,” said Brunsfeld, Associated Student Government student services vice president and a Weinberg junior. “It gives students so much more input. Students are actually deciding where they want to live next year.”

Some students, such as Weinberg sophomore Neal Sawlani, said they are excited about the changes.

“To be able to walk out of (Annenberg) knowing your room assignment is a huge benefit in terms of planning your year out,” he said. “It’s better than a completely random lottery.”

Medill junior Justin Berzon said he appreciated the fairness of the new policy, citing the penalty fee for backing out of a contract.

“At least some freshman isn’t buying a room that a senior should be having next year,” he said. “One of the big faults with the old system was that you could still lose a room you wanted because people who had no intention of fulfilling their housing contract were signing up for the good spots.”