The pick-times for the 2021-2022 housing lottery for rising juniors and seniors were posted on Monday, March 15, before the housing selection process took place on Friday, March 19.
In an email sent from the Office of Residence Life on March 15, 35 rising junior groups were told they would be unable to participate in the initial lottery. This was due to the fact that for the amount of groups formed, there was not sufficient housing to fit them during the first lottery selection.
Further, they were told to “not log-in and attempt to select housing during the online selection process.”
After the housing selection process, the Office of Residence Life stated in email to these students that there would be “approximately six four-person units that will remain unselected [and] approximately 17 eight-person units that will remain unselected.”
The next steps for students who were unable to participate in the initial lottery were emailed to affected students on March 23. This stated that a supplemental lottery would open on March 23, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. and close on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 at 4:00 p.m.
But it went on to state that, “only groups of four or eight are valid to select housing in the Supplemental Lottery.”
The Mirror reached out to the Office of Residence Life about the situation.
Meredith Smith, the associate dean of students and director in the Office of Residence Life said that this wasn’t a unique situation, and that there is a supplemental lottery and a post-lottery process built into the schedule each year.
For the groups participating in the secondary lottery options, they can either stay together in their original groups and “be placed in housing as more spaces become available” or reformat to fit in the open spaces on campus.
In the March 15 email, Residence Life stated that groups that remained together and entered the waitlist did run the risk of being split up due to lack of availability.
According to the On Campus Housing Lottery Booklet for 2021-22, specifically for the class of 2023, there were 55 four-person living options, 69 five-person living options, 52 six-person options and 28 options for groups of eight. However since Class of ‘22 selected prior, these numbers were subject to change.
Sophomore Caroline McConville is one of the students who was notified her group would be unable to pick in the initial lottery.
“It was honestly really disappointing when we were emailed only four days before picking that our group was too large and splitting up or adding would be our only option,” McConville said.
She added that, “we just wish communication was sooner and more transparent with the fact there were so many groups and we were told so soon to when we were supposed to pick — our excitement for a townhouse was torn away.”
Smith stated that it just happened that, “This year, the five-person and six-person configurations were the most popular with more groups entering the lottery than we have units available.”
She goes on to reiterate the point that, “All juniors and seniors who entered the lottery will have housing next year.”
Sophomore Kayla Brosnihan who was also unable to participate in the initial lottery said, “If the number of housing options and students was already known by [the Office of Residence Life], they should have informed the six-person groups they needed to split during roommate selection versus four days before actually picking.”
Some students in groups who were able to participate in the initial lottery also commented on the selection process this year.
Sophomore Giulianna Gentili stated, “I’m so excited that the lottery went well for my group, but it’s disappointing that not all of my friends were able to live close by.”
She continued, “I think the changes in group numbers made it difficult for everyone to get a situation they’re happy with.”
Sophomore Carly Manzi echoed Gentili’s statements.
“I’m really glad the housing lottery worked out in my favor, but [the Office of Residence Life] should have been more clear about the number of housing available,” Manzi said.
The room selection process for supplemental housing will take place Friday April 9 at 9:00 a.m. and will “continue until all housing is selected.”
Several students cited concerns with class size during the housing process.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Capone, who was also part of the group that could not participate in the initial housing selection stated that, “[The Office of Residence Life] is very descriptive with housing information, but should have been more clear with communicating exactly how many houses were available, especially since the Class of 2023 is bigger than the previous years.”
Smith said she and the Office of Residence Life does not foresee class size being an issue and that they “have carefully planned for this contingency.” The school opened Barnyard Manor in the Fall of 2019, and is working on adding a third block to this area that opens next Fall.
Junior Caroline Kavanagh was unable to participate in the initial housing lottery last year when she was a rising junior.
“My group and I felt confident that we were going to get a good number because of the dedication we had to our Build-a-House project,” Kavanagh said. “However, we were all a little disheartened when we did not get Build-a-House.”
The Build-a-House Program is an opportunity for upperclassmen to create their own living and learning community with the establishment of their own thematic townhouse or apartment.
Additionally, any groups accepted to be part of the Build-a-House program are given priority during the pick-time process of the housing lottery, according to the Housing Lottery Booklet that states, “Seniors Build-A-Houses/Seniors will receive the best individual priority lottery numbers, followed by the Junior Build-A-Houses, and then the junior class.”
After her group was not accepted as one of the Build-a-House groups, they did not receive a lottery number and had to enter the supplemental lottery.
Her group chose to split up to get another lottery number.
“As far as [the Office of Residence Life] is concerned, the communication on their end was subpar,” Kavanagh said. “We had to send several emails to get a straight answer, and we had to call [the Office of Residence Life] to confirm we would get a townhouse at all.”
She said they “were ensured they would get a townhouse in the supplemental lottery,” but that “there weren’t any townhouses left” when her pick time came about.
Now Kavanagh lives outside the gates of campus, in a campus-owned house on North Benson Road, the same road the University is on.
“Don’t get [me] wrong, I liked the way everything worked out,” Kavanagh said. “But we wish that [the Office of Residence Life] communicated with us a bit better about our situation.”
Students who want to further discuss the lottery and any other concerns with on-campus living for the 2021-22 year should contact the Office of Residence Life at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-254-4215. There they can schedule a time to meet with a Central Staff member to further discuss issues, questions, and concerns.