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Institute May Avert Crowding in Dorms

By Douglas E. Heimburger
Editor in Chief

As freshmen receive bids this morning from fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups, officials in the Office of Residence Life and Student Life Programs are making plans to crowd dormitories this fall.

The movement of 120 upperclassmen to Tang Hall, a graduate student dormitory, has eased pressure on the dormitory system, said Philip M. Bernard, program director of residential life.

If 250 freshmen live in FSILGs, the dormitories will hold 144 crowds, slightly more than last year, Bernard said.Bernard is using 250 pledges as a baseline number because RLSLPis unsure how many freshmen will pledge beginning tomorrow.

Last year, about 340 freshman pledged FSILGs. If the same number pledge this year, the system will be markedly less crowded.

Last week, Interfraternity Council president Duane H. Dreger '99 said that he expects about 345 freshmen to pledge FSILGs.

The residence system has been set up to support 166 crowds, Bernard said. An additional 40 spaces can be opened by converting MacGregorHouse lounges into doubles.

Most of the crowding occurs in Baker House, Burton-Conner House, East Campus,McCormick Hall, New House, and Next House, Bernard said.

During the 1980s, the residence system routinely supported 230 or more crowds. Then, Baker quadruples were crowded into quintuples. That conversion is not planned under the current crowding system.

Off-campus students have been hurt the most by the potential housing crunch, Bernard said. Typically, about 60 to 80 students move onto campus each fall. This year, almost no applications to do so have been accepted.

Housing lottery opens

This year's residence lottery opened yesterday at 4 p.m. For the first time, the the lottery offers a World Wide Web-based interface, in addition to the old UNIX interface.

Freshmen can access the lottery to enter their selections until 12 p.m. on Tuesday, either on Athena or at http://lotteries.mit.edu/froshpref. On Athena, students can access the lottery by typing "add lotteries; froshpref &".

The new Web-based lottery interface was created to provide a "more familiar interface to freshmen," said David Z. Maze '00, who wrote the program. "Even if they've never seen a UNIX-like system before, they've probably used a Web browser."

The World Wide Web version of the dormitory lottery uses Secure Socket Layers encryption and the same personal certificates as the Web Student Information Systems server.

Freshmen who enter their lottery preferences in one version of the lottery can modify it using the other program, as both systems access the same server database, Maze said.

There are a total of 15 choices in the lottery:10 dormitories, four language houses, and Chocolate City.

Two choices are single-sex:McCormick, which is all female, and Chocolate City, which is male.

Lottery results will be available at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Students can check their lottery results by running the same program again or by checking the Web page.

Better placement hoped for

This is the second year that the residence lottery will be using an optimization algorithm developed by Eliot S. Levitt '89, a former staff assistant in the Office of Residence and Campus Activities, which is now a part of RLSLP.

Last year, Levitt wrote an optimization program to "maximize happiness"within the first four choices, Bernard said.

This year's improvements to the lottery are mostly minor tweaks of the algorithm, Bernard said.

Additionally, the program will look at the assignment of "roommategroups" to make sure that "being in a roommate group doesn't give you a special advantage," Bernard said.

Finally, the algorithm will likely be removing McCormick Hall as a choice for males, Bernard said. In previous years, no males would be assigned to McCormick Hall although their choice would be considered through the lottery.

Last year, 99.3 percent of freshmen were assigned to one of their top three housing choices. Only 69 percent of freshmen were assigned to their first choice dorm, compared to 76 percent in 1996, as a result of the new optimization algorithm.