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Wednesday, June 28, 2017




Error accounts for incorrect housing numbers, says DCL




When the Department of Community Living announced housing lottery numbers to students via email on Wednesday, March 15, many students reacted with confusion and frustration, posting on social media and reaching out to DCL to express their disappointment.

DCL sent out two emails to the student body on Wednesday. The first stated that all upperclassmen had received priority and had been assigned numbers between 1 and 1,322, while rising sophomores had received numbers between 1,383 and 2,400. Contrary to the email however, rising seniors had in fact been given priority over rising juniors.

DCL sent out a second email, eight hours after the first, which apologized for an “unintended error in coding [their] automated number assignment process.” This error, the email stated, had created a system which separated rising juniors and seniors into different priority pools. With Usen Castle slated for demolition, resulting in less available housing, most juniors had been given numbers that would have effectively prohibited them from obtaining housing in many of the residential areas juniors have typically inhabited in past years.

The second email promised that DCL would release new numbers by noon on Thursday. However, numbers were not released until hours after that time had come and gone.

Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Tim Touchette apologized for mistakes made in this process in another email to the student body on Thursday, explaining that the error was due to a miscommunication between the University and Adirondack Solutions, the technology vendor the University employs to run the housing lottery.

“I take full responsibility for the error and the distress it has caused, as well as the confusion and misperceptions that followed our message last evening,” Touchette wrote, later adding, “There was never any intention by me or any member of the Department of Community Living to change the process, or to mislead you in any way.”

Touchette went on to explain that unlike most other colleges and universities, Brandeis combines rising juniors and seniors into a mixed pool instead of prioritizing housing by class year. The vendor implemented the code with their typical prioritization, which is also why the MyHousing instruction website was updated with the incorrect information, according to the email. According to Touchette, DCL did not check the numbers or the instructions before sending them out, a mistake for which Touchette took responsibility.

“We should have caught this when we shared the manual, and again when we distributed numbers, but we didn’t,” Touchette wrote.

“I am deeply sorry that this happened, and can only assure you again that there was no intent to change the process. Students have been clear about their wishes for how numbers should be distributed, and there is no interest from our Department that conflicts with this.”

According to Touchette’s email, DCL maintained the integrity of the original order of the first batch of numbers, alternating numbers between rising juniors and seniors. This method “removes any weighting in the process, but keeps the fairness of the initial distribution,” he wrote.

Sheryl Sousa ’90, Vice President of Student Affairs, expressed regret in an email to the Justice for the events of this week, noting that the administration is “deeply sorry for the problems with the execution of the distribution of housing numbers this year and with all the stress it must have caused to students.”

Sousa has pledged to review the process by which housing lottery numbers are chosen and the systems utilized in this process in order to “assure it doesn’t happen again.”

— Editor's note: Abby Patkin contributed reporting.


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