The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 60.0°F | Overcast

Housing Lottery Indicates More Crowding, Slow Rush

By May K. Tse
Staff Reporter

Far more rooms than anticipated will be crowded this year, results from the housing lottery indicated yesterday.

"We had projected a crowding level of 120," said Phillip M. Bernard, staff associate for Residence and Campus Activities. "What has happened is that the rush numbers are a level down from previous years."

So far, about 350 freshmen will be living in fraternities and and independent living groups, down from 386 last year and 401 in 1994.

"We still think some people will pledge, but right now, we're up to 146 people crowding," Bernard said.

"It's too early to predict if we're above or below average, but the level of crowding is always dependent on the level of pledges," said Assistant Dean for Resident and Campus Activities Neal H. Dorow, adviser to fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups.

Overall, 76 percent of those who entered the lottery received their first choices and almost all students received assignments among their top four choices.

Four students, however, got assigned to a dormitory lower than their fourth choice. "We didn't make our goal of everyone getting their top four choices. I'm disappointed with that and with the crowding level," Bernard said.

MacGregor House was the most oversubscribed of all the dormitories, with 62 extra requests.

"Iwasn't really expecting to get in," said Jairam Ramanathan '00, a freshman who got into MacGregor, which was his first choice. "I would have been happy with my second choice."

New factors complicate process

Several factors made assigning rooms more difficult.

The first was the significant number of students who requested non-smoking rooms and roommates. "We had half of the comments asking for non-smoking,"Bernard said.

Another item often requested was single-sex housing. "We were able to accommodate almost all of the single-sex requests," Bernard said.

The lottery itself also did not run problem-free. Students involved in an MIT summer program before entering as freshmen faced a technical glitch, although it was resolved quickly.

"They got their Athena accounts in the summer before they were assigned MITID numbers," said Andy Oakland, the programmer for Information Systems who wrote the program for the housing lottery.

A more difficult problem surfaced when agroup of about 10 students who had entered the lottery were listed as never having logged on. As a result, their housing preference forms were ignored.

"At this point, we're not sure if it's a mistake or an error; there was some kind of a loss in data transmission," Bernard said. The reason behind it is still under investigation, and the students are being dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Students pleased with lottery

Most freshmen were happy with the lottery results.

"It didn't matter too much for me because my first three choices were about equal," said Ben O'Connor '00, who got his third choice, East Campus. "It doesn't make me too upset or disappointed."

"I could live with mostly any of them, as long as I didn't get my eighth choice" or lower, said Darrell Drake '00, a freshman who got his third choice, Baker House.

"Of course I'm disappointed, but it's not so bad," said Jorg Scholvin '00, a freshman who didn't get into his first choice, MacGregor.

"I got into my first choice, Bexley [Hall], but I would've been happy with my top five," said Autumn Steuckrath '00. "People make too big a deal of this. It's what you make of it, not what the dorm is."

"It's a pretty fair system; the top three would have been reasonable,"said Rafael Dinner '00, who got his first choice, Next House. "It's not life or death, but I'm still pretty pleased."

People who deserve the credit for the happiness of the freshmen are the upperclassmen who do the residence and orientation events for dormitories, Bernard said. "If they didn't do that, we would have an almost impossible job. Students contribute to almost all the success," he said.

Students who are dissatisfied with their assignments can still try to find someone to trade housing assignments with and then make the trade official through RCA. The only restrictions for the switch are that the two involved must be of the same gender and the same year.