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Frosh Lose Choice in Temp Dormitory Assignments

By Stacey E. Blau
News Editor

For the first time in several years, freshmen did not submit a list of preferences for temporary housing assignments. Instead, members of the Class of 1999 have been assigned dormitories on an alphabetical basis, according to Residence and Campus Activities Staff Associate Phillip M. Bernard.

The change was made because the RCA office decided that the time and effort needed to sort freshmen preference cards and to assign freshmen one of their top three choices was excessive, according to Associate Dean for RCA Andrew M. Eisenmann '75.

Freshmen this year were assigned temporary dormitories alphabetically by their last names. Starting with Next House, which is housing freshmen with last names beginning with letters from A to C, each dormitory is temporarily housing freshmen whose names fall within a specific alphabetical range.

In years when freshmen took part in selecting their temporary residences, the assignment process was "quite a bear to administer," Bernard said. "It took two people 50 hours a week for two weeks to complete the temporary assignments something students only live in a week," he said. The RCA staff thought it more worthwhile "to concentrate our energy on better service to students," he said.

Studies of the housing assignment systems that other schools use have shown that "any way you do it, people are satisfied at about the same rate," Bernard said.

The RCAoffice consulted house presidents and Residence and Orientation Week coordinators about the idea of changing the temporary assignment process at the end of last year's R/O period, Bernard said.

Initially, the office attempted to randomly assign freshmen their temporary dormitories by their MIT identification numbers, but computer problems derailed that effort, Bernard said, and the alphabetical scheme was introduced.

Only McCormick Hall, the sole all-female dormitory, was exempt from the main assignment system. A set number of female freshmen were initially assigned to McCormick, and the remaining freshmen were assigned alphabetically to the other dormitories, Bernard said

Effects might be better

As in past years, incoming freshmen received a booklet describing their on- and off-campus housing options. But the fact that freshmen did not have to send in a card listing their dormitory preferences this year may have meant that "the incoming class didn't go through the book so carefully," Bernard said.

This may have the effect of many students "ending up making decisions on the basis of actual visits" to dormitories, Eisenmann said. "Making choices that way is a great way to do it" because students get more of an idea of what a dormitory and its residents are like when they visit, he said.

Freshman Christy L. Canida '99 said, "It would have been nice if I had a bit of a choice about where I am." Canida is temporarily housed at Next and said that the dormitory was not her first choice. "I would have preferred to have an inside look at something that was a bit higher on my list," she said.

Canida said that she plans to visit all the dormitories before she decides which dormitories she will list as her preferences in the housing lottery.