Joys of Room Draw

by Erik Dambach | 5/9/03 5:00am

It is that time in the spring again -- time to "choose" where we will live next year. That's right -- it's time for the frustration that is room draw. Believe it or not, I feel that the lottery system is the fairest option available. And this is coming from someone who has had his number in the latter half of the class each year. During my first room draw, I managed to luck out with the third to last room on campus -- thanks to my roommate's number. This was before the Tree Houses were built.

Then, during sophomore summer, my friends and I lived down in Channing Cox. Spoiled by the great experience, we naively believed that we would be able to return to a River Apartment for senior year. Of course, when we received our horrible housing numbers, those dreams were shot. So we went to room draw, expecting all of the River Apartments to be gone. Two female apartments actually remained. By the end of room draw for the '04 class, one female apartment was left. It just seems wrong that a "senior" apartment should remain for rising juniors to claim, especially when there are '04 guys who would gladly take it.

I have given up trying to understand why the River Apartments cannot be co-ed, which would have easily alleviated the aforementioned problem. I have been told that an out-dated New Hampshire state law says that each sex must have a separate bathroom. Why can't the majority of the apartments be classified as "either?" Or, after the first group of rising seniors finish their room selections, the remaining River Apartments should be opened up to either sex; this would help to ensure that seniors will get the rooms. It seems that, in terms of housing, senior privilege is reduced to better priority numbers. The better numbers are great, but the River Apartments should be filled with seniors. Only after the last rising senior, regardless of sex, has opted to not fill the apartments, should the remaining rooms be opened up to the other classes.

Those of you who are not '04's probably think that this is just whining from some '04. But wait until your junior year, when you think you deserve finally to have a good room, and then see how you feel when at room draw you do not get it. This leads to my second major frustration, which affects the whole undergraduate body: squatting.

Squatting is, perhaps, the worst idea that ORL has ever come up with to promote community. It basically just benefits those few people, who luck out and get housed in a dorm cluster where they actually wish to remain. And, those freshmen with really bad priority numbers, not presently occupying the River or the Choates. It sure does not promote growth among the community as a whole, as there is much disdain for squatters during room draw.

Before squatting, there was blocking. I think that blocking should come back in a limited capacity. Let one housing number block up to four spots. This way, friends can live near each other and have a strong, little community. My friends and I attempted to get four singles on the same floor, once we realized that a River Apartment was a lost cause. Our numbers were well dispersed throughout the latter half of our class, and we were lucky to get into the same building.

If squatting is here to stay, it requires some modification. Squatting by cluster is too broad. The best alternative is limiting squatting to one's room. If you really like your room, then I think you should have the option to remain there. Or, what about squatting by building by class? Let juniors squat in the building where they currently live, then have room draw for juniors, then have sophomores squat, etc. This way, juniors will still retain some seniority, as opposed to the current squatting policy that allowed '05's and '06's to claim rooms that would have otherwise been taken by '04's.

Although these opinions are mine, I have heard many of them echoed during room draw. I completely understand that we cannot always get what we want, but it makes little sense to have policies in place that limit our capacity to try. The Office of Residential Life staff works hard to make the process run smoothly (and for this they should be commended). Because they are required to enforce flawed policies, students will continue to encounter frustration and disappointment that could have been avoided, or at least reduced.

I had better stop now before I delve further into the housing dilemmas that face Dartmouth undergraduates, like that waste of space known as the East Wheelock cluster