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Sixty Undergrads Change Dorms in Fall; Baker, EC Have Largest Positive Flux

By Tatyana Y. Lugovskaya

Sixty-seven people entered the undergraduate fall housing transfer lottery this past December, and 60 of those students were able to change dormitories. Although the lottery results came out by Dec. 12, most moves occurred over the past two weeks, said Anthony Gray PhD ’01, project director for graduate housing.

According to data from the Undergraduate Housing Office, the most popular dormitories were Baker, where only one person moved out and twelve moved in, and East Campus, where two moved out and nine moved in. The least desired dormitories were Next House and Burton-Conner, where number of residents moving out were much higher than numbers of residents moving in.

Lottery favors flexibility

Currently, the lottery algorithm strives to maximize the number of first choices satisfied, said Gray in a talk over Independent Activities Period about the mechanics of housing assignments.

However, a person can improve his chances for transfer by being flexible rather than focused on just moving into one particular dorm, Gray said. By including four housing preferences instead of the two, a person has a higher chance of getting their desired assignment.

Accordingly, six females who only entered two choices into the fall transfer lottery were unable to move, and one male who only listed one preference could not transfer to a different dormitory.

Denise A. Vallay, assistant director of undergraduate housing said, “the lottery system helped eliminate waiting lists, which were out of hand when I started in 2001.”

Because it is increasingly difficult to find affordable housing in the Cambridge and Boston areas, Vallay said that more students are looking for MIT housing these days.

“The sense in which the demand is diverse and the supply is scarce is what causes tension,” said Gray during the IAP talk. “Also among the problems is the demand for first choice assignments versus the limited capacity and the continued efforts of MIT Housing to derive the lottery system with the fewest students being unhappy with where they were put.”

Students who applied to the lottery had mixed reactions to the system. “It's not the best system,” says Vincent Wu ’06, “but it's the best they can do.” Wu moved from Burton-Conner to East Campus in the fall.

“I moved from Burton-Conner for a change of social atmosphere,” he said. “Burton-Conner didn’t fit my personality. I was moving to a place not everybody wanted to move to, but it had a shorter waiting list, and there were a lot of rumors that it had better social atmosphere.”