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Room selection draws criticism

Wyatt Smith

News Editor

While reactions were mixed, this year’s room selection process came with its fair share of complaints.

Most of the criticism was directed at an imbalance in the number of male and female rooms. More females than males participated in general room selection — due to a higher number of male students living in program houses and singles and the overall larger percentage of female students — and therefore, more rooms were allocated to females. Men quickly found themselves with slim options.

“The breakdown of the number of rooms offered and where they were was certainly less than desirable for guys,” said Simon Doong ’15.

“As a senior, you shouldn’t have to live in Holden Annex,” said Holden Miller ’15. “That shouldn’t even be an option.”

Gentry Kerwood ’16 was more direct. “Res Life owes every senior and junior male a sincere and humble apology,” he said. Kerwood later added that, “If the number generation system is completely random, and there are more girls, then statistically girls will have a higher chance of either having a lower number or knowing another girl with a lower number. In essence, Res Life was saving rooms for the wrong people, at least in sought-after dorms like Gault Manor and Kenarden. This left all the senior males hoping for a room in Holden.”

Residence Life originally overcorrected, reserving more rooms for female students than turned out to be necessary. For instance, only four suites in Gault Manor were originally available to men, but administrators added more as the selection process unfolded, resulting in eight suites ultimately being gendered male.

Despite such changes, twice as many men as women ended up on the wait list, although the wait list is shorter than in previous years.

“My understanding of historical data is that our wait list has gone significantly down,” said Amber Zifzal, associate director of Residence Life. “All in all, we’re looking at … less than 50 people total on the waitlist, which really isn’t bad.”

Some men also critiqued the relative quality of the rooms available for each gender. For instance, the wing of Holden Hall closest to Lowry Center was reserved for men, while the wing closest to Scheide Music Center was reserved for women, as was the case last year.

“Lowry side [is] the side that’s less desirable,” explained Doong, a view he said is widespread among the student body.

“To me, as I was looking at the rooms, a Holden room is a Holden room,” said Zifzal. “I didn’t think Scheide side is better than Beall side or Lowry side. … It was never an intention to make the men feel as though they were getting lesser housing.”

Other students expressed frustration with the assignment of program houses. Some thought that groups were not properly paired with appropriately sized houses, resulting in ongoing discussions with Res Life to resolve the issue.

“The house puzzle is just that, it’s a puzzle,” said Zifzal. “We don’t just mindlessly throw darts at a map to see who goes where. It is typical for groups to be asked to add or subtract one or two to fit into a house, as we did this year.”

This year’s housing selection was the first held in Lowry Center instead of Compton Hall.

“The move down to Lowry and using Scot Lanes as a holding area worked really, really well because it wasn’t just a place where you were sitting,” said Zifzal. “It was a little bit more of a social atmosphere than sitting in a lounge somewhere.”

“It was very easy to get people from Scot Lanes over to ResLife to pick a room,” added Doong. “This year the process itself was smoother. The thing is … for a lot of people, it didn’t matter how smooth it was if they couldn’t get the room that they wanted.”

There were also some new housing options this year, such as Gault Schoolhouse and an expanded gender-neutral hall in Kenarden Lodge.

Zifzal emphasized that there is still time to work out any discontent with the housing selection process.

“One of the things to remember is that a lot of students think that Wednesday has come and gone [so] the housing selection process is over,” she said. “What they miss is that there are ebbs and flows that will happen all summer. There will be changes that happen until August 20 when students move in. We are confident that all of the students on the wait list will be housed by the end of May, if not the end of the semester.”

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