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2013 Spring Issue 7 (May 24, 2013)

“Smooth Sailing” at Room Draw 2013

May 24, 2013
By J.M. Hanley

The party is over.  The curtains fell not with a bang but a whimper on Room Draw 2013 at 9:15 on Thursday evening amidst a flurry of Goodhue doubles and selection-forfeiture forms.   

It had begun three days earlier on Monday in an atmosphere of tension and excitement, as seniors with first dibs plotted anxiously to secure the best possible room that their draw number afforded them for their last year in Northfield.  They were followed by sophomores on Tuesday, then freshmen on Thursday, some of whom faced a downgrade from the abode assigned to them this year.

Student preparations for housing selection, however, got under nearly four months ago following the release of draw numbers in the middle of winter-semester midterm week at the end of January.  It was then that the stratagizing, horse-trading, and the consideration of friends versus better-numbered “friends” truly began.

“There’s always stress in room draw--you just can’t avoid it,” said one senior who drew into a townhouse next year.“Even when you kind of know what you’re going to do, you still have to watch the rooms in front of you get drawn.”

According to Room Draw director Patrick Gordon, a number of rooms went later than expected, Page House West and Hendrickson House among them, a fact which he attributed to their “being new additions” to the open draw pool.

Of course, the multi-million dollar gorilla of new housing was the recently renovated Evans Hall, which now includes dozens of new rooms.  Evans rooms were substantially more popular this year than they were in the spring of 2011, when the building was last available for Room Draw.  However, doubles and triples in Evans remained available through the beginning of freshman room draw.

Beginner’s luck wasn’t confined to Evans.  According to Gordon, rising sophomores had “ a great deal of triples and quads to select from,” a trend that differs sharply from years past, when almost all high-capacity rooms were selected by rising juniors and seniors.

Perhaps more importantly, ResLife had a sufficient number of rooms for all takers.  In the past, Gordon said, “rooms have run out,” but this year, a number of rooms remained after the last freshman had drawn, including normally sought-after singles.

Nevertheless, some freshmen with low draw numbers, deterred by the prospect of an hours-long wait in the Great Hall or perhaps by persistent rumors of fluke summer placements in Cassat, waived their right to select a room themselves.  Instead, they completed a form detailing their lifestyle preferences and now await a room assignment by residential life.

Gordon said that draw-dodgers would be placed “wherever open space is available” over the summer as the freshman class, and the logistics associated with housing it, change.  Students with higher draw numbers will receive priority consideration in assigning newly-vacated rooms.

As #3461 Ben Strauss bluntly put it after completing the form, “I’ll have a room.  It will have four walls and, hopefully, a roof.”

Some students chose to forego the process entirely and live in specialty housing.

“I applied to live off-board because I wanted to live in an actual house with a smaller number of people who share my interests,” said Drew Higgins ’16, who plans to live in outdoors-oriented C.A.N.O.E. House next year, “The dorms are nice, but they feel a bit sterile, and I wanted to shake things up.”

Other students have avoided room draw entirely over the past few years. Maddy Crowell ’14 was a Resident Assistant her sophomore year, went abroad her junior year, and chose to live off-campus for her senior year (the Northfield Option draw is in February). “I really don’t feel that I’m missing out too much,” she said with a laugh. “It sounds stressful.”

Kelsey Swyter, another Resident Assistant for the last three years, agreed. “I’m glad I’ve never had to go through that, and I’m pretty happy with my living space next year.” Swyter will be an RA in Cassat Hall next year.

Gordon reported that “dividing the night into two sessions,” along with the addition of a Twitter feed and a Google Document detailing the remaining rooms had worked a positive change in Room Draw.

“We were incredibly happy about how smoothly the process went this year,” he said, “The Housing Selection Advisory Committee worked really hard, and they ran a smooth process.”

*Editor’s note: Upon saying this, two nearby students chimed in with a resounding “oh my god, it’s so stressful!” 
“God, every year I’m prepared and then I go to pieces completely. It’s the worst. At least everyone got rooms this year!” The Editor-in-Chief would like to add that Room Draw is indeed highly insanely stressful and not a good experience for the naturally anxious.

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