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Only 1/7 Freshmen Request Transfers

By Kevin R. Lang


Of the 981 members of the Class of 2006, 751 of whom were eligible to move to another dormitory, 140 requested a housing change in the Orientation Adjustment Lottery, and only 84 of those students were able to move.

East Campus led all dormitories with 35 freshman requests for transfer into the dorm. East Campus was followed by MacGregor House with 20 and New House with 19. The usual favorite Baker House only received seven requests, the third lowest of all dormitories. Next House received no requests.

This year, 74 percent of freshmen received their first choice dorm, a number slightly above average for the algorithm. However, only around 50 percent of freshmen who placed a top-pick dorm as their first choice were able to get in, while low-pick dormitories usually accommodated all of their first choices.

Freshmen were able to stay in their Orientation assignment either by indicating so in the lottery, or by doing nothing, a first in the history of the housing lottery. Only 80 percent of the freshmen class turned out to respond to the lottery.

This year marks a first because all transfers were third choice preference or higher, though only 60 percent of those requesting transfers were allowed to move.

Vallay please with lottery results

Denise A. Vallay, assistant director of undergraduate, summer, and guest housing assignments, said she was pleased that 61 percent of the students used the online lottery simply to indicate that they would not be moving.

“We shut down the lottery at 5:00 p.m. on [Aug. 27], got the results, and started working with the algorithm until 5:30 in the morning,” Vallay said.

Despite the low participation, Vallay said she thought an adjustment lottery was an important feature of residence selection. “I think it’s an important thing to have now,” Vallay said.

She thought many lottery participants were students making a second attempt to get their first choice for housing, rather than students trying to get out of a given dormitory which they did not like. “I don’t think all of them are people who were really unhappy in their housing assignments,” she said.

Last year, MIT held a “mini-lottery” for freshmen who were unhappy with their place of residence two weeks into the semester. Vallay said approximately 80 students asked to move at that time, but few could be accommodated.

“There’s a big difference between being here for three days for rush and being here for two weeks,” Vallay said.

Housing office seeking feedback

With both summer housing selection and the adjustment lottery, the housing office surveyed students to see what tools and information they were using to select residences.

“This is the first year that we’re running it like this,” Vallay said. “We would really like to see how all these years of planning ... have played out, and was it effective -- did it work?”

Vallay said that committees have already been established to work with the survey data.

Some student leaders, however, already have feedback for the administration.

Tyler J. Bronder ’03, vice president of the Dormitory Council and president of MacGregor House, said he was disappointed with MIT’s handling of the residence selection process.

“We don’t want to draw conclusions off of this year,” Bronder said. “The information wasn’t presented properly at all ... we couldn’t communicate with the freshmen until [they] got on campus.”

“They simply didn’t get the message of dorm selection out,” Bronder said. He thought that the administration did not put enough focus on encouraging students to visit different dormitories and explore moving out of their summer selection. “We certainly weren’t happy with what happened this year,” he said.

“It’s Dormcon’s firm belief that residence selection is the basis of our whole system,” Bronder said. “Having a dedicated dorm rush period during the Orientation time frame is important.”

Only Simmons Hall and McCormick Hall allowed freshmen to squat their rooms; all other residences held in-house rush Wednesday night.

“I think we really have to get the message across, and that involves Dormcon and the administration sitting down and getting a single message out about how residence selection works,” Bronder said. “There’s no way to get the true feel of the residence system -- of the dormitories -- without actually visiting them.”

No crowding in dormitories so far

As of yesterday, there were no known crowded rooms in the dormitory system.

“There’s really no crowding,” Vallay said, noting that some buildings had extra rooms that would be filled by students on the off-campus waiting list.

MacGregor House, a favorite target for crowded rooms in the past because of its many lounges, is uncrowded this year. “We are totally uncrowded,” Bronder said.

Improvements already in sight

Although the Residential Life Office is still reviewing the results of this year’s lottery, Vallay said she could already foresee changes for next year.

“There was no stapling in the adjustment lottery,” Vallay said. “That should have been made clearer to students.”

In addition, Vallay said that students were confused about how to request a room for medical reasons, with many students simply using their questionnaire rather than a special housing request with doctor’s notes.

However, Vallay said that having Information Systems run the lottery helped avoid some of the software problems of the past.

“We had I/S redesign the lottery, and it worked really well,” Vallay said. “It was great to be able to have them run it and also to have the assistance and technical guidance from Tony Gray, who was a huge help in running the lottery program.”