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Frosh Get at Least Fifth Choice Dorm: Women find shortage of single-sex rooms

By Daniel C. Stevenson
Editor in Chief

No freshman who participated in this year's Athena-based housing lottery received lower than his or her fifth choice dormitory when the results were announced yesterday afternoon.

However, because female enrollment has grown while women-only housing remains constant, most of the freshmen unhappy with their assignments are women, said Associate Dean for Residence and Campus Activities Margaret A. Jablonski.

Ninety percent of freshmen received one of their top three choices; the remaining students received their fourth or fifth choice dormitory. Last year, some freshmen who ranked Senior House and East Campus as low as seventh place were assigned those dormitories.

"I'm very, very happy with how it went," said RCAStaff Associate Phillip M. Bernard, who managed the lottery. An effort was made to better distribute the housing assignments so fewer students were assigned low-ranked choices, he said.

According to RCA figures, 759 students received their assignments via the lottery. Fewer than 10 students were specifically assigned housing for medical or religious reasons, Bernard said.

Those students unhappy with their assignment should go to the RCA office and speak with Bernard or Associate Dean Andrew M. Eisenmann '75, Bernard said.

Students can fill out a house-to-house change request form, Bernard said.

Mostly women unhappy

Fifty-nine percent, or 448, of those assigned housing were women, compared with 53 percent, or 401, last year. Women make up 42 percent of the freshman class, the highest number ever.

Most of the women unhappy with their assignments had requested McCormick Hall or MacGregor House, "thinking they would get all single-sex in McCormick or a single in MacGregor," Jablonski said. All 62 freshmen assigned McCormick ranked it first, and 68 out of 71 freshmen assigned to MacGregor ranked it first.

"We're about at the point where we really have to take a look at how the Institute has increased the number of women in its population but really hasn't changed the number of single-sex housing spaces available,"Jablonski said.

To address current concerns, the RCA office will "work with the room assignment chairs in the houses and with the housemasters to try to come up with a plan that will try to address the needs of women who need, for cultural or religious reasons, or just as their preference," single-sex housing, Jablonski said.

Lottery runs smoothly

Despite a shaky start, the lottery system "seemed to go fairly well,"said S. Anders Oakland, an Information Systems employee who wrote the lottery program. The system was delayed an hour Sunday afternoon due to a program error, Oakland said.

Freshmen received their assignment via electronic mail and, as a new feature of the program, by running the lottery program "froshpref" a second time, Oakland said.

The results were available at 3 p.m. yesterday and were mailed to students by 4 p.m., Oakland said.

This is the second year with a computerized lottery, which alleviated problems that came up in previous years. The system has been streamlined from three lotteries two years ago, to two lotteries last year, to only one this year.

Senior House works to welcome

Of the 58 freshmen assigned to Senior House, only 20 listed it as one of their top two choices, despite the dormitory having "probably one of the better communities we have on campus," Bernard said.

Students assigned to Senior House historically rank it lower than other dormitories; last year more than half the students assigned to Senior House ranked it sixth or seventh.

To counteract new residents' apprehensions, the new housemaster, Professor of Literature Henry L. Jenkins, spearheaded a "welcome wagon" drive to "make all the students feel welcome at Senior House," he said.

Any bad reputation is "based on old news and rumor and problems that have happened in the past," Jenkins said.

Along with physical renovations begun last summer, Senior House has undergone "renovations socially and culturally" that should make it more palatable to new residents, Jenkins said.

"We're trying to build a strong community at Senior House which is friendly and open" but at the same time "accommodating to the diversity that Senior House has always attracted," Jenkins said.

Jenkins organized teams of students to meet with freshmen assigned to Senior House, he said.

More than 20 students, including current and former residents and tutors, volunteered for the teams, Jenkins said. "Senior House has really rallied behind this," he said.

Many freshmen "don't have a very strong and clear impression of what the house is like," Jenkins said. He hopes to convince them that it is "one of the warmest and friendliest houses on campus."