Department of Community Living assigns housing selection numbers
The Justice helps clarify the complicated and often fraught housing selection process.
On March 21, Brandeis rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors received their numbers for the upcoming housing selection process. The Department of Community Living informed students of their randomly assigned number through the MyHousing portal. Rising sophomores were assigned a number between 126-1200, while rising juniors and seniors were assigned a number above 1200. The lower the number the student received, the earlier their time slot for picking their housing for the upcoming school year will be.
DCL’s Assistant of Dean of Student Affairs Tim Touchette explained in a March 22 interview with the Justice that the reason numbers are initially assigned as opposed to time slots is because as students decide that they are going to try and find off-campus housing or rising sophomores decide they want to live with rising juniors/seniors, they may forfeit their assigned housing number. Students forfeiting their numbers would change the time slot that the person behind them gets for housing. If selection times were all assigned initially, they would likely be frequently changing.
Students with lower numbers have priority over popular living areas such as the Rosenthal Quad or the recently developed Skyline Residence Hall. Due to the unpredictability of the housing selection process, students have turned to forums such as Sidechat to see what type of housing is available for their specific number. It’s difficult to know what will be available based purely on numbers, but when students are assigned specific time slots in the coming weeks they can look at what was available during that time in past years in order to better predict what will be available this year. This year’s freshman class was the largest in the University’s history, and because of this, just because certain rooms were or were not available in previous years doesn’t guarantee they will be the same this year.
Brandeis students are guaranteed housing for their first two years on campus. However, rising juniors and seniors don’t receive the same luxury. The higher their number, the less of a chance they have to live on campus in the coming year. Hana Miller ’25 began stressing about this possibility when she received her housing selection number of 2390. Miller is hoping that her friend who has the housing selection number 1245 is willing to choose to room with her in a six-person suite. But, if they don’t, Miller will likely need to find options off campus. “I think it adds a lot of unnecessary interpersonal tension to the situation because it's essentially forcing a friend, a student, to decide whether or not their friend is going to get housing,” Miller said in a March 23 interview with the Justice.
As opposed to the simple process of selecting a dorm in April and moving in at the start of the semester in August, living off campus comes with a different set of responsibilities. “I don’t know what a good lease looks like. I really don’t know how to read [a lease] and to decide what is good and what is bad. I haven’t really budgeted my financial situation in terms of how I would pay monthly rent. And that information is all now required of me to learn in a very short timeframe,” Miller explained. DCL lists several resources for students searching for off-campus housing. These include Jumpoffcampus.com which is housing posts targeted at Brandeis students, other apartment searching websites such as Zillow or Craigslist, and local community resources such as the Bristol Lodge Soup Kitchen, local Facebook groups, and the Waltham Public Library.
The homes and apartments available for rent on websites such as Jumpoffcampus.com range in both price and location. Some listings vary from just a few hundred dollars to several thousand a month. Houses and apartments on the website are as close as South Street and others are as far as Worcester, Massachusetts.
Some students such as Miller are concerned that they may not necessarily be able to afford to live off campus. Although not all students can live on campus, Touchette expressed in a March 24 email to the Justice that students who reach out to DCL over the summer will likely find a bed on campus. “We have never in my time at Brandeis turned anyone away. We might not have exactly what the student is looking for, but we offer each student multiple opportunities to select from what is available,” Touchette said.
Although some students are stuck dealing with poor housing selection numbers, others haven’t had to stress about it. Josie Casper ’25 has spent the last school year working as a community advisor in Shapiro Residence Hall. She did it both to help new Brandeis students feel comfortable and for financial reasons, she explained in a March 23 interview with the Justice. While there were stressful aspects to the job, Casper ultimately decided that she wanted to continue being a CA in her junior year. “I think I was really debating not being a CA because I think it’s a good experience living with your friends. And I know, having roommates is a really good way to learn what you like, and what you don’t like, and how to communicate with others. I think I really wanted to live with my friends, but I realized I really do like my own space” Casper explained.
Casper, who may be studying abroad in the spring, only committed to being a CA for the fall semester. Casper is still waiting to see how much it costs financially to study abroad before officially committing to a program in Greece, but if she decides to not go abroad, she hopes that she would be able to continue working as a CA in the spring. While Casper was fortunate enough to be hired for the CA position, it is a lengthy process that includes several rounds of interviews and short answer questions.
DCL held an information session on March 22 to respond to student questions about the housing process. They will be holding a second information session over Zoom on April 3 at 6 p.m.
—Editor’s note: Editor Cameron Cushing ’23 is employed by the Department of community living as a Community Advisor. He did not contribute to or edit the parts of this article pertaining to DCL.