Fall housing selection returns to room draw system for the first time in three years

by Parker O'Hara | 4/15/22 5:15am

4-14-22-midmass-angelinascarlotta
by Abigail Salzhauer / The Dartmouth

For the first time since spring 2019, the fall housing selection process will return to the pre-pandemic room draw system, in which students receive a randomly assigned priority number for choosing housing. Over the last two years, the College has resorted to a system of randomized preference due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this year’s changes to the housing selection process, some students — especially seniors, who are required to take classes in their final year — are worried about not getting a place to live on campus.

Room draw for senior apartments took place on Monday, while students living in their housing communities will select rooms beginning on April 26. Room draw will be on April 26 for East Wheelock and West House students, April 27 for Allen and School House students and April 28 for North Park and South House students, according to the Office of Residential Life website. 

As opposed to last year’s selection process, which assigned students randomized rooms, this year’s room draw system allows students to directly choose their building and room in the order of their priority number. These numbers are assigned based on seniority — 1 through 1,600 for rising seniors, 1,601 through 3,200 for rising juniors and 3,201 through 4,800 for rising sophomores — and determine the time slot during which students are able to select housing, according to the Office of Residential Life website. Director of undergraduate housing Rachael Class-Giguere said this process offers students a range of benefits.

“Students can see what is available and they can then decide what their priority is,” Class-Giguere said. “They don’t have to hope that our office can guess what’s most important to them.” 

Tatum Bernet ’25 said that because she has a low priority number, figuring out living plans with the room draw system can have some “complications.”

“Having basically the last spot in the housing lottery has made making living plans for next year much more difficult,” Bernet said. “It leaves me with a lot of uncertainty knowing that everything will be filled up by the time I am able to choose.”

Bernet added that the room draw system incites students with lower priority numbers to “hunt to room with someone who has a good housing number.” Though her number falls near the end of the priority order, Bernet said that her roommate’s position will likely provide the both of them better accommodations.

Students who fail to get a room during the room draw must apply to the fall waitlist by June 10, according to the ORL website. Sophomore students on the waitlist are guaranteed housing, but juniors and seniors are not. 

Last fall’s record number of students living on campus meant that many students were placed on a waitlist and left scrambling for housing. In an effort to free up more beds, the College offered $5,000 for up to 200 students who were willing to give up their on-campus housing. 

Joanne Liu ’23 went through the senior apartment selection process on Monday but was not able to secure an apartment. She said that she and one other friend were interested in living in a senior apartment, but struggled to find two other roommates.

“It would have been really beneficial to see if maybe [the College] could pair up groups or if you’re an individual on your own wanting to apply for a senior apartment and okay living with people you might not know as well,” Liu said. “To have that process be facilitated by the housing office would be a lot more useful.”

Rising seniors like Liu who were unable to get an apartment on Monday will automatically receive a room selection timeslot for their Housing Community room draw, according to the ORL website.

Still, Liu said that she “is not too concerned” about not finding a place to live on campus.

“It’s true that we aren’t guaranteed housing but it also seems that most of the time we are able to get a place on campus,” Liu said. “Right now what I am mainly concerned about is being able to get a single, which is what I’d prefer.”

According to Class-Giguere, this year’s waitlist is “very different” from last year’s. She added that the new apartments at Summit on Juniper, as well as additional beds in the North Park apartments, should relieve some of the housing stress even while Andres Hall is under construction

“We know that with the D-Plan, there are students who are going through the fall [housing selection] process right now, and they will choose rooms and then their plans will change,” Class-Giguere said. “The data over decades of doing this process shows that we will have enough vacancies to open up to house those students on the waitlist.”

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