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Most Freshmen Get First Housing Choice

By Mike Hall


The housing lottery ran more smoothly this year than last year, with about two-thirds of freshmen receiving their first-choice dormitory and only seven receiving a choice ranked lower than third.

However, for the second consecutive year, some students were left out of the lottery. This year, 36 students will not receive housing assignments until today at 4 p.m.

East Campus led all dorms again this year with 115 new residents, beating Burton-Conner House by one freshmen. Next House was close behind with 104 freshmen, followed by Baker House at 92. As in 1999, Bexley Hall received the fewest number of new residents this year -- 15 freshmen.

Baker was the most popularly-chosen dorm, with 179 freshmen ranking it first. MacGregor House was in second with 133 first rankings, and Burton-Conner placed third with 90. Senior House and Random Hall were the least-requested dorms, with 24 and 17 first-ranks respectively.

Freshmen could not select McCormick Hall in this year’s lottery. New residents at McCormick were selected before the lottery to participate in a pilot residential advising program.

New lottery improves results

Phillip M. Bernard, manager of undergraduate residential services, was pleased with the smoothness of this year’s lottery.

“It’s so calm,” Bernard said. “I’m very pleased with the way it went.”

The success of this year’s lottery stands in stark contrast to the housing difficulties last year. Bernard said that last year’s algorithm was inefficient, taking over two hours to run completely. In the end, the Housing Office had to use the 1998 algorithm, resulting in a poor distribution that left some freshmen in dorms they ranked below fifth.

Bernard and his department worked throughout the year to improve the algorithm, with Bernard himself running ten to fifteen simulations to test the program’s boundaries. During the actual execution, the improved algorithm took only fifteen minutes to run, he said.

Most freshmen were pleased with their lottery result.

“Lots of people were scared before [the lottery],” said Samia A. Mahjub ’04, “[but] most are getting probably their first or second choice.” Mahjub, who ranked Baker first, said that she hoped Baker lived up to its reputation as a social dorm.

New Baker resident Atif Z. Qadar ’04 ranked Burton-Connor first in the lottery, but said that he “didn’t think it was a loss. I like it [just] as much.”

Lisa C. Smith ’04 said that she ranked Bexley first because she has a friend who lives in the dorm. Additionally, she said Bexley gave her the space she wanted in her living environment. “It [offers] a lot more freedom” than most dorms, she said.

Slow pledging affects lottery

Some freshmen, however, did not receive a housing assignment. To run the lottery most effectively, Bernard said the Housing Office had to remove 36 freshmen from the assignments.

Slow pledging forced the Housing Office to remove the freshmen from the lottery. Only 240 freshmen had pledged by the running of the lottery at 2:00 p.m. yesterday. Bernard said that the number of pledges at lottery time was the lowest his office had ever seen. The Housing Office had planned for 280 pledges by lottery time this year, he said.

The unassigned freshmen should be placed by 4:00 p.m. today, Bernard said.

Carl Mahler ’04, who was deferred to the second lottery, said that he was upset to have been selected for deferral. He added, however, that he thought the Housing Office was correct in holding people instead of crowding immediately.

Temporary housing has no effect

One interesting finding with the lottery results was that temporary housing locations had “no correlation to the permanent assignments,” Bernard said. For the first year, freshmen were allowed to rank their temporary residences during the summer. Baker and MacGregor received almost half of all summer first-choice ranks, with Baker receiving 316 and MacGregor receiving 187. No other dorm received more than 65 first choices.

Bernard said that the program would be modified if it continues next year.

Aaron D. Adler ’01, MacGregor president and member of the group that developed the summer preference program, said that he would like to see the program run again next year. “We’ll just keep trying,” Adler said. “It was a good learning period.”

Sean Liu ’04 said he appreciated the summer preference program. “It’s better than other colleges where [students] just get thrown somewhere.” Liu was placed temporarily at Baker and permanently at MacGregor.