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Students draw into cyber- space

This time last year Carls were anxiously preparing to gather with their class year in the Great Hall to select the following year’s housing. Sweat dripped off of nervous brows, tensions rose, friendships ended and pity pizza was served to those unlucky rising sophomores with the highest numbers.

This year, however, all of the stress will happen behind screens. Room Draw is moving online, and some 250 seniors have already drawn into housing for the 2015- 2016 school years.

On May 1, Andrea Robinson, director of residential life, emailed the 65 seniors with the top numbers (not including those who had already drawn into Northfield Option) asking for their room plans for next year. In Robinson’s email she said, “All I need to know is: what space you plan to draw (building and room) and who you plan to live with.”

She explained that the lottery system would be respected, so, if lottery number one did not respond, she would not move forward with lottery number 2. Once she received responses from students she confirmed with them their housing and moved on to the next group.

“We did this in order to make things run smoothly,” Robinson said, claiming that they are confident the system will not crash.

When Room Draw happened in the Great Hall, students each had a specific amount of time to pick a room when no one else could. However, ResLife feared that switching to the online system could be hectic for students and not give them ample time to choose, especially if they continued to run Room Draw only over the span of three days.

After doing the math, Residential Life realized that the first forty students draw-in, on average, 3.78 people. By allowing the students who were likely to draw into high capacity spaces to draw early, they eliminated, according to Robinson, around 400 minutes of choosing-time, allowing more time for other students whose choices would be less obvious and require more adjustments.

Robinson explained that most seniors with high numbers have a good idea of what they want and use a Google Doc to organize their housing options.

“We know the seniors create a Google Doc, and it’s already ready to go.

“By us using that to draw them in administratively it just cleans up how the whole process will go for the rest of students,” said Robinson.

The entire process took around two weeks, and Robinson said it went well, explaining she only received an email from one frustrated student who wasn’t even part of the early draw group and far more positive emails from students involved.

Jacqueline Liu ’16 drew into a townhouse during early Room Draw.

Although she had been thinking about Room Draw since the lottery numbers came out in February, “I did feel a bit stressed that I had to finalize things within the first week of May, as we weren’t given a clear timeline of when things would happen between February and May,” she said.

Although she acknowledged the logic of early Room Draw, especially for ResLife, she explained, “I was a bit nervous about it because I felt that it was less transparent.”

The list of available rooms was not available online at the time she sent in her preference list, and she said “I felt that I might not be able to make the most well-informed choice because it wasn’t as clear as it was when the process was done in the Great Hall as of which rooms were drawn before you.”

She also explained that the heavy reliance on the Google Doc system, despite it’s unofficial nature and that people change their minds a lot, added stress.

In spite of external delays in the system, information about regular Room Draw will be sent to students later this week, and Room Draw will likely begin next week, according to Robinson.

“It’s not how we wanted to do it,” said Robinson. “In upcoming years, it will run for a much longer time frame instead of just three nights.

Next year, it might happen over the course of a month because we want to make sure everyone has their time.”

Residential Life is waiting to see what goes well and what problems arise during spring Room Draw before finalizing plans about housing for students returning from Off-Campus Studies in the fall.

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