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Change in lottery swiftly rejected

By Brian Rosenberg

The housing of freshmen through the lottery process has never been easy. This year, however, it was particularly difficult, due to the large size of the Class of 1994. And that is probably why the rooming coordinators began to deviate from the norm when they assigned rooms on the second day of the housing lottery this year.

"On the first day of the lottery, we placed about 600 students," said Jack Keefe, staff associate in the Residence and Campus Activities Office. According to Keefe, these students were housed using the same lottery system as had been used in the past.

"The students' cards were sorted according to first choice, and if a house had enough space to accommodate all of its first choices, they were placed there," Keefe explained. The cards were then sorted by second choice, and so on, until no more choices were listed.

But, according to Gerald R. Cain '91, a Baker House room assignment chair, this was not how the student lottery was done on the second day.

"At the beginning of the second day, we began placing people the way we do transfer students -- picking a card out of the box and placing that person in their highest choice with available spaces. We were more concerned with getting people housed than with first choices."

Once it became clear that crowding was absolutely necessary, the lottery process was quickly changed. According to Timothy M. Fox '91, an East Campus room assignment chair, "When we realized the severity of the crowding, we redid people and began crowding them in their first-choice dorms."

Keefe admitted that deviating from the lottery rules was a mistake. "If people have to be crowded, they ought to be crowded in a higher-choice dorm. What we were doing in the beginning of the second day was both inefficient and unfair."

In the end, the second-day lottery was relatively successful. Approximately 65 students were placed during the second round, according to Keefe and others involved in the housing process.

"Between the first and second days, the room assignment chairs rethought their houses and essentially created quite a few spaces, much to their credit," Keefe said. "Also, the second day always profits from additional pledging and from no-shows."

Keefe did not feel the initial deviation had any real impact on the fairness of the eventual placement of freshmen. All freshmen were placed somewhere in the end.

"Of course, adjustments are still being made because of no-shows and one-to-one swaps between freshmen," Keefe concluded.

Although this year's deviation was unsuccessful, there are those that believe that the current lottery process should be changed.

"I think the [current] lottery allows freshmen to get either their first or their eighth choice. I think there could be a way that would allow everyone to get either their first or second choice," said Joan E. Kussmaul '92, a Senior House room assignment chair.

Kussmaul is currently circulating a letter stating her concerns to the other room assignment chairs for their signatures, she said. She plans to take the letter to the Dormitory Council, she added.