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New System Improves Dorm Lottery Results

By Douglas E.Heimburger
Associate News Editor

Freshman housing lottery results released yesterday afternoon show that a significantly higher number of students were assigned to one of their top three choices than in previous years.

This year 99.3 percent of freshmen were assigned to one of their top three choices, compared to 93 percent last year and 90 percent in 1995, said Philip M. Bernard, program director for residential life in the Office of Residence and Campus Activities.

The results are the "most successful we've had,"Bernard said. He attributed the success to a new optimization scheme written by Eliot S. Levitt '89 that maximized the number of students assigned to one of their top three choices instead of only to their top choice.

Only 69 percent of freshmen were assigned to their first choice dormitory, compared to 76 percent a year ago. The change is due to the optimization process, Bernard said. "More people get their second choices," he said.

In 1995, 67 percent of freshmen received their first choice dormitory. However, 76 students were assigned to a dormitory that was their fourth choice or below that year.

This year, only six students received their fourth choice dormitory, and no one received any dormitory lower than the fourth choice, Bernard said.

RCAwill try to accommodate those who received their fourth choice dormitory, Bernard said. They are "people that we'd really want to work with"to move to a higher preference house if necessary.

Crowding higher than expected

The number of crowded rooms in dormitories is now expected to be higher than previously thought, Bernard said.

While 120 crowds were predicted at the start of the lottery on Sunday, almost 150 crowds are now expected due to a slow rush at fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups.

Rush is "a little slow,"said Neal H. Dorow, assistant dean for Residence and Campus Activities and advisor to FSILGs.

"I'm still optimistic that we'll be in the range where we want to be when Rush is over," Dorow said. Rush will conclude tomorrow evening, he said.

If the number of crowded rooms stays at 150, many singles in East Campus will be doubles, and doubles in Baker House, New House and Next House will be triples.

However, Bernard expects the level of crowding to decrease somewhat following the end of the lottery. "I'm sure there are people who play their bid," he said. They're waiting for the results of the lottery, he said.

MacGregor, McCormick favorites

The traditionally oversubscribed dormitories McCormick Hall and MacGregor House were again the most overcrowded dormitories this year.

This year, 1.59 students requested McCormick Hall as their first choice for every slot available in the dormitory. In the least requested dorm, East Campus, 0.35 students requested the dormitory for every slot open.

Only four dormitories were oversubscribed this year compared with five last year.

Over the last few years, demand for single-sex McCormick Hall has dwindled. This year 100 students ranked it first, compared to 225 two years ago. The total number of females in the freshmen class has not changed significantly during this time.

Lottery runs smoothly

Even with the change to the new optimization scheme, the lottery program ran extremely smoothly, Bernard said.

Beginning at around 8:30 a.m. yesterday, the program was run about 10 times, with different parameters "to get the best results possible."

Initially, some freshmen were being assigned to their fifth choice dormitories, but this was eliminated by changing the numbers passed to the program, Bernard said.

Almost all freshmen receiving lottery assignments were placed through the lottery, including those seeking assignments with a roommate and those with medical concerns. "We try to make very few manual changes,"Bernard said.

Except for language houses, current residents of particular dormitories have no say in the process. "It's a pure lottery,"Bernard said.

Once the lottery had completed running, it was transferred back into the froshpref program on Athena and released at approximately 4:30 p.m., said Andy Oakland, a programmer for Information Systems who coordinates the running of the lottery on Athena.

Unlike other Athena-based lotteries, the housing lottery program also e-mails the results to freshmen. The goal of the response system was "to make it as easy as possible to get their assignments,"Oakland said.

Few complain about assignments

The number of students complaining about their housing results and requesting a house changes was "an order of magnitude" smaller than last year, said Associate Dean for RCAAndrew M. Eisenmann '70.

As of 6:30 p.m. yesterday, only three requests for house changes had been received by RCA compared with several dozen a year ago, Bernard said.

In the event that freshmen do not like their housing selection they can fill out a house-to-house transfer request form, Bernard said.

However, "the one thing we really ask people to do is to stay in their assignment for a week," because those assigned to a lower choice often end up enjoying their assignment after meeting the people there, Bernard said.

Most students expressed happiness with the lottery. "I'm glad my friend got into McCormick because we can get in there and visit," said Eugene Chio '01.

Others weren't as happy. "I like MacGregor, but Igot Burton-Conner instead,"said Wai Kit Kah '01.