Editorial: New housing selection process sparks confusion and anxiety for upperclassmen
On March 1, The Department of Community Living unveiled plans for the fall 2021 housing selection process just as the University prepares to welcome students back for in-person classes. This board expresses concerns about the stress caused by the housing procedure changes, as well as confusion surrounding the lack of explanation for these changes. This board calls on the Department of Community Living to provide students, especially upperclassmen, with rough estimates of the type of housing that would be available for each given lottery number.
In a March 1 email, DCL announced two major changes that heavily impact students’ plans for housing: selection times and junior/senior selection options. The University’s housing selection has always been done through a lottery system, where students are given a random number and are able to select their housing option within the allotted time determined by their number. As opposed to previous years, the allotted selection times will be three minutes apart instead of one minute, which this board recognizes as helpful in decreasing the urgency of selecting housing in such a short period. However, the second major change — opening all junior and senior housing options at the same time — seems more detrimental than beneficial.
Previously, housing options were available for choosing on different days, making the competition to get a specific dorm room contained to that particular day. With the help of the statistics collected from previous years on how quickly rooms were chosen, students were able to predict whether their lottery numbers were enough to get their preferred housing. The current changes implemented make the data useless since it was contingent on the fact that different housing options were available on separate days. Because this new system has never been used before, there is no accurate way for upperclassmen to get a sense of what their numbers can get them.
Although the housing selection procedure is happening around the same time of the semester as it always does, this board recognizes that determining housing in late April is last-minute and stress-inducing. While underclassmen are guaranteed housing and will at most have issues with getting their preferred selection, juniors and seniors will have to wait for their selection days to see if they can even live on campus. This issue is significant enough that there is a Facebook group called “Brandeis Students Screwed by the Housing Lottery,” created in 2007 with over 2,000 members. People can post off-campus rooms for rent and roommate searches on this page, but this is not an ideal solution to the disorganized housing selection process that the University offers for upperclassmen. It especially does not help that deadlines by which students must withdraw from on-campus housing with a full refund are unclear.
In addition, DCL’s unclear information adds pressure on students who are deciding between on-campus and off-campus housing, as there are fewer options available for off-campus living as spring progresses and leases are finalized. Because of the lack of any explanation for the new changes on the DCL website, this board views the housing selection process as unfavorable for students, particularly upperclassmen, for the upcoming school year.
According to a March 25 email from DCL, students can sign up for 20-minute one-on-one appointments with DCL staff to get their housing questions answered. However, due to the limited times available for appointments relative to the number of students who may be confused about how to proceed with housing, this board urges DCL to make approximate housing selection statistics available to all students.
—Editor’s Note: Cameron Cushing ’23 is an editor for the Justice who works for the Department of Community Living and did not contribute to or edit this article.