The annual housing lottery commenced last Monday with one significant tweak to the usual system: housing options for upperclassmen are now staggered across multiple days, meaning that on the first day of housing selection, only certain housing options can be chosen. The six-person Ridgewood suites and Foster Mods opened for lottery participants on April 11, but Ziv quad suites and two-person Charles River apartments were only available by April 14. This board questions the logic of these changes and urges the Department of Community Living to return to the freer system in which all housing options are available from the get-go.

DCL justified this switch in a statement on their website that past students faced problems “adjusting their roommate group when one type of housing ran out.” Far from preventing this frustration, however, the new system forces students into yet more group-swapping and adjusting. The order in which housing options are made available has no internal consistency in the number of beds available per day: six-person Ridgewoods and Mods are the first available, then four-person Foster Mods, then five-person Charles River apartments, then two-person apartments and six-person Zivs. As options are selected, groups which planned for a given number of people to live together must now make fast, difficult decisions to accommodate the next available housing. A group of six whose number was not good enough to get a Ridgewood, for instance, will need to pick two people from their group to exclude within 24 hours if they want to secure a Mod. Competition for six-person Zivs, as the last available suite housing, becomes intense, forcing those who cannot secure a Ziv to seek housing elsewhere.

Compounding the confusion is the DCL web system, which makes it difficult for users to see which housing options are still available until they are selecting housing themselves. This means students must rely on hearsay and estimations when making choices about who to keep and who to cut from their housing, adding another layer of distrust and hurt feelings to the process.

As this board editorialized in the past, efforts to “fix” the housing lottery inevitably will only shift which groups of students receive the brunt of its unpleasant nature; it is impossible for a lottery to satisfy everyone involved, no matter how it is structured. The student body affirmed this by voting overwhelmingly against other proposed changes to the housing lottery this semester, according to a March 22 Justice article. Yet this change, which was not part of the initial proposals DCL floated to students, was enacted anyway. While it primarily affects only rising juniors and seniors, it does add unneeded stressors to the already complicated housing process. A better system, ironically, would simply offer all available housing to begin with. This permits students to choose the housing that best suits their needs and interests, which will not always be the option DCL implicitly assumes in this system — perhaps a student prefers a double to a suite for personal reasons. That suite then remains available for higher-numbered students to use. 

We urge DCL to return to its earlier system without restrictions on which housing is available when and encourage the department to test all potential changes to future housing lotteries with the student body before implementation. Better communication between DCL and the student body is clearly needed on multiple fronts.