For years, the Fairfield student body has wondered whether the randomized housing lottery system that the University uses is the most effective means of selecting housing year-to-year. Many of these students have proposed a system where, in order to determine the lottery numbers for housing, the housing association takes into account each student’s GPA, contribution to the community and the clubs and activities each student is involved in. In this system, each student acquires a certain number of points for how high their GPA is and how many clubs they’re involved in. Points are deducted for any demerits the student may have. This system is currently in effect at Pace University in New York.

For this reason, the Inter-residential Housing Association and the Fairfield University Student Association hosted an Open Forum on Wednesday, Nov. 11 to give students an opportunity to express their opinions on whether or not the University should adopt a non-randomized housing lottery system.

“[Students] came to the FUSA Senate and they asked how we felt about changing the system,” said FUSA Chair of Senate Zoe Ferranti ‘17. “I didn’t feel that the 22 senators were enough of a student voice. Although we represent the student body as a whole, I thought that in order to give everyone a broader view of what the larger student body feels, was to call an Open Forum as soon as possible before we return to IRHA with any opinions.”

To begin the forum, Ophelie Rowe-Allen, director of Residence Life, and Charles Sousa, associate director of Residence Life, gave a brief overview of how the housing lottery process currently operates for each class at Fairfield.

Next, students were given the opportunity to share their thoughts on the present system, and what they feel needs to be adjusted about the system, if anything.

In this discussion, several students brought up the unfairness of the current system, questioning why someone who has been written up multiple times should get a better lottery number than someone who has received no disciplinary action in their time at Fairfield.

On the flipside, some students, such as Steven Penna ‘17, argued that our current housing lottery system is the fairest system out there, because the complete randomness of it negates the possibility of any discrimination or outside factors creating unequal opportunities for students.

He added that a system like Pace’s introduces the idea of “student worth,” in that it bases a student’s value on their GPA and involvement in clubs and activities.

Sophomore Dana Saad responded that she feels that the housing lottery system should be based closely on what happens in real life, saying that she feels a merit-based system gives students a better idea of what they will experience in life after college.

“As far as I’m concerned, the real world isn’t fair,” Saad said.

Other students showed concern with basing a housing lottery system on a student’s GPA. Sophomore Marina Lindland feels that this would spur competition among the student body, creating animosity among students.

“You’re going to watch a whole university disintegrate in front of you,” Lindland said.

Sophomore Vicki Bresnahan doesn’t know yet what she wants the new housing lottery system to look like, but she does know she wants some kind of change to happen.

“I think if they figure out a process where it’s fair and it would help everybody, I think it would be a good thing. I don’t really like the random thing,” Bresnahan said.

Ferranti felt that the forum went well, bringing up valid points from both sides of the issue.

“I think there were definitely people from both sides of the spectrum; people that want a system that’s not randomized and people that are all for the randomized system,” Ferranti said.

She added that minutes were taken at the forum, which FUSA will use to create a survey that will be sent out to the student body in the coming weeks to help them decide on what changes, if any, will be made to the housing lottery system.

Once results are gathered from this survey, Residence Life will send out a final statement saying whether or not the system will stay. This statement is expected to be released in March, according to Vice President of IRHA Matthew Turner ‘17.

Turner enforced the fact that this forum was simply a preliminary stage in the decision making process for a new housing lottery system, a decision that IRHA will ultimately make by March.  

“Nothing is set in stone. This is just solely to see what the students want to change. This is really just the beginning of what we’re planning to do,” Turner said.

Sophomore Alex Arias felt that the forum created “a lot of open and honest dialogue” which she believes “led to a very successful conversation.” She continued, “I really do think that FUSA and IRHA and Res Life all set up a nice environment for all to express their concerns with the system right now.”

Lindland agreed, saying she “liked the fact that a lot of people weren’t afraid to voice their opinions,” because it made the forum much more successful.

At the end of the forum, an audience poll was taken by a show of hands and the overwhelming majority felt that IRHA should keep the randomized system the University currently uses.

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