Is room draw fair? Kenniston and students discuss

Room draw is a game of chance. If you’re one of the lucky ones near the top of the list, or have an in with someone who is, it’s a windfall. For those who are less fortunate, you may wind up in a less desirable dorm. Regardless of your number, room draw is a stressful time—so much so that some students have gone so far as to offer payment to students with higher room draw numbers for his or her pick. Others lament that so many incoming first years have the opportunity to live in those beautiful AMS doubles.

The consensus with different students surveyed on the Hill is consistent with how those at other NESCACs feel about housing. “It is a stressful time here. You have to be calm and relaxed because a lot of unforeseen things will happen on the day,” Matthew Bleich Hamilton class of ’18—who spoke with peers from all class years—said. “This year is especially weird because they eliminated all off-campus housing, so no one here really knows what is going to go early or what is going to go late.”

In contrast to Hamilton’s move away from off-campus housing, President David Greene has mentioned his interest in expanding Colby’s off-campus housing, specifically with the goal of placing more students on Main Street in order to foster civic engagement and improve college-town relations. However, during this most recent housing selection, most students still focus their energy on finding rooms on campus.

Associate Director of Campus Life Kim Kenniston offered some insight regarding how Campus Life decides where to place first years: “Campus Life looks to block off doubles and triples for first year students, as they can’t live in singles,” she said in an email correspondence. “We want the rooms to be near each other, and we want no less than six first-year students—ideally eight first-year students—on each floor. The rooms are close to the same each year, as we work to find the best solution for the rooms, a few change each year.” Still, it is not first-year housing that generally causes a large stir among students.

Campus Life attempts to edit their process according to past mistakes, but sometimes unexpected circumstances occur. Will Bonney ’16 arrived back on campus from abroad, but the room he was promised was no longer available. While rumors exist that many mistakes have Campus Life to blame, Bonney asserted: “I also want to make it clear this was not [Kenniston]’s fault. The person in my room simply refused to leave. An odd situation.” As a form of apology for the situation, Kenniston offered him pick number 2.5, meaning that he picks his room at the same time as the number 2 pick.

Regarding this practice, Kenniston remarked: “Typically, now that we have gone online with room draw, it isn’t an administrative error that causes us to change a room draw number. It could be that we have needed to ask a room to move for a variety of reasons, or a mid-year move didn’t happen that was supposed to, and a student that had a good pick ended up taking a different room that wasn’t part of the selection that they would have taken. This is done very infrequently.”

Kenniston asserted that “a misconception is that you can give your room draw number to a friend.  A room draw number is assigned to a person and can’t be given away.” Addressing other student actions made in order to improve rankings she said, “one last misconception is that if people pull in students with lower room draw numbers, that over the summer they can email me and make a change to their housing.”

However, each year, a number of students attempt to buy their way into rooms. Eva Neczypor ’16 received the following Facebook message after a male senior found her high room draw number:

“[H]ey, I know this is super random and kind of weird but I was looking at room draw numbers and saw that you had a great pick…I’m hoping to get a quad with members of my team and I and [sic] was wondering what your housing plans were and if you had any interest in swapping picks? We’d also be more than happy to throw some money your way ($200-300) if that would help sway your decision….I look forward to hearing from you soon!”

Neczypor decided to ignore the message even though her friends jokingly urged her to provoke a bidding war.

While the move to online selection has reduced some of the facetime once held in The Heights, Kenniston shared some positives regarding the new system. “Moving to online has really made the process more user friendly, especially to our students that are away from campus for the spring semester, since you can participate from anywhere in the world that has internet,” she said.

Neczypor didn’t respond to the request, but it is general knowledge among students that some of these messages garner responses. Kenniston, however, maintained that “room draw numbers are assigned to a person and can’t be changed.”

Comments are closed.