MIT has finally finished the most complex housing cycle in recent memory. The 460-bed Maseeh Hall opened alongside a substantial overhaul of the Institute’s undergraduate dining system. Both Maseeh and the dining system were predicted to influence the choices freshmen make about where they want to live.
Three of the five most popular choices in the June freshmen summer housing lottery were dining dorms. Baker took the top spot, followed by Maseeh Hall, Burton-Conner, Simmons, and MacGregor — Baker, Maseeh, and Simmons are on the new mandatory dining plan. Next House and McCormick Hall, which also have mandatory dining plans, took the No. 6 and No. 8 spots in the preference ranking, respectively. Aside from cultural houses in New House, Senior House received the fewest first, second, or third choice options.
Aside from the new popularity of Maseeh Hall — which was never before an option — these results are not drastically different compared to 2010 and 2009 numbers. Last year, Burton-Conner, Baker, Simmons, MacGregor and New House rounded out the top five. In 2009, the top five were Baker, Simmons, Burton-Conner, MacGregor, and Next House, in that order.
But what about the adjustment lottery? What kind of impact did the residence exploration period (REX) have on dorm preferences?
First, remember that Maseeh Hall and McCormick Hall do not permit residents to enter the adjustment lottery. Second, note that 137 freshmen entered the re-adjustment lottery. That’s 12 percent of the total class, or 16 percent of those eligible to move.
Assuming all else is equal, the mandatory dining plan did not appear to have a significant impact on the adjustment preferences this year compared to 2010. Only 12 percent of freshmen originally assigned to Simmons and 8 percent assigned to Baker requested to leave (14 and 10 percent last year, respectively). Next House, in fact, had significantly more loyal freshmen this year — only 13 percent asked to leave, compared to 36 percent last year.
Though East Campus did not build their iconic coaster this year, they did something right: only 16 percent of freshmen originally assigned there entered the adjustment lottery, compared to 40 percent last year. As in 2010, a large number of New House freshmen asked to leave — 51 percent (last year, it was 66 percent).
Requests out aren’t the only indicator of dorm preference. Like in 2010, Baker and Burton-Conner were two of the three most popular requested dorms in the adjustment lottery this year. But Simmons — which was just as popular as Burton-Conner last year — was not as popular this year (though it was still the third most-requested dorm in the adjustment lottery).
Notably, significantly fewer students entered the adjustment lottery this year. Since at least 2007, between approximately 200 and 250 freshmen entered the adjustment lottery each year. But this past week, only 137 freshmen asked to switch. Lower adjustment demand could stem from a greater proportion of freshmen who live in Maseeh, which does not allow residents to enter the adjustment lottery. Forty percent of Maseeh residents — nearly 200 people — are freshmen. Additionally, Hurricane Irene’s disruption of REX events may have contributed to the low adjustment demand.
And while the number of students who entered the adjustment lottery was low, the proportion who received a new assignment was much higher this year. Of 137 who requested a new housing assignment, 109 were reassigned (80 percent transfer rate) — only slightly fewer than the number of reassignments in 2009 and 2010.
This year, 65 percent of freshmen got their first-choice pick in the summer housing lottery — a five-year high by a 1 percent margin.
Finally, keep in mind that no single change in MIT’s housing system, be it the opening of a new dorm or a new dining system, can fully account for year-to-year preference changes. The statistics presented here are useful for gleaning general trends, but should not be relied upon to make rigorous conclusions about the impact of housing or dining changes.