Every April, Sarah Lawrence students incur additional stress as Residence Life sends their annual housing lottery email. All the different rules and regulations can be difficult to understand, especially on top of end of the year conference work. Therefore, in an attempt to make the process easier, here is a breakdown of the housing process:
Sarah Lawrence’s housing system goes by lottery. Every person in each year gets assigned a number from 1-400+. Over the course of three days, with rising seniors going first and rising sophomores going lst, students arrive at Student Affairs at a particular time slot, depending on their number. After seeing which rooms are available, they then enter a line with their desired rooms in mind, tell the housing volunteer which room they want and, if that room is available, that room goes to them. If two or three people from the same class wish to live in a double or triple, the group gets in line with the person with the lowest lottery number.
Often times, if a student feels they have too high of a number, and are not going to find any rooms they want available, they put their name on the guaranteed waitlist. Ordered by class standing and lottery number, the guaranteed waitlist assures that, by August, the college will have found a student a room.
Adam Treitler (’14) received very high number in the lottery during sophomore and junior year and decided to put his name on the guaranteed waitlist rather than going through the aggravating process of trying to find an available room. Both years, he managed to get singles. Although the guaranteed waitlist does not guarantee a single, Residence Life does work “with the student's preferences to make assignments as spaces become available.”
Additionally, we are not the only college that uses a lottery to place their students in housing. Barnard, Hamilton and Rutgers are just a few of the local colleges and universities that also employ a housing lottery.
However, this does not apply to every college. Stony Brook University on Long Island, for example, has a housing system based on seniority and what room you are in. If you want to keep your room, you have first pick and get to do so. If you want to change rooms but be in the same building, you have second pick. If you want to change buildings but be in the same quad, you have third pick. Finally, if you want to completely change quads, you have last pick.
“You can imagine the headache,” said Jessica Borukhova, a senior at Stony Brook University. “I rather [would do a] lottery.”
Not everybody is a fan of the lottery system. “I hate that they make us wait in anticipation for our lottery number,” said Brenda Alvarez (’16). “Instead of letting them out all at once, they should put them out few at a time like senior one day, juniors another etc. that way myslc [sic] doesn’t crash,” referencing the countless MySLC crashes that occur only when classes are posted and lottery numbers go up.
There is one way, however, to get out of the housing lottery and that is to apply for group housing. Every year a certain number of apartments, adjoined rooms and houses are available across campus to petition for group housing, ranging from two occupants to eight occupants. There is a type of lottery with group housing as well. The committee takes each person’s number and subtracts 100 points if there are a rising senior and 75 points if they are a rising junior.
Example: Rising senior Frank with lottery number 152 wants to do a group petition for adjoined singles with rising junior John with lottery number 200. Their group lottery number is 177 because (152-100) + (200-75) = 177.
Unfortunately those who do not succeed in receiving a petitioned house will have to participate in the individual housing lottery with the majority of the student body.
Students coming back from studying abroad have the option of petitioning with a group or filling out a form on MySLC for individual petition where they list their preferences for housing. A housing lottery volunteer picks that person’s room on the night of their class’ lottery. If none of the preferences are available, that student is put on the guaranteed waitlist.
Then there is the exception to the lottery: Warren Green. To live in SLC’s first sustainable house, you need to fill out an application, explaining why you want to live there. Should you be selected by SLC’s Sustainability Committee, you are required to follow a select series of guidelines.
Lastly, the housing for Resident Advisors (RA) is completely different from the rest of the student body. Once a student is told they will be an RA, they sit tight and wait for their housing assignment, not having a choice.
“We can say like “I work better with freshmen”, but that doesn’t mean we will get placed with them,” explained Elizabeth Emery (’15), currently RA of Titsworth.
The housing process is a bit like the Hunger Games with everyone rushing to the second floor of Bates and trying to beat everybody else to “win” the best room. So, as the end of April approaches, Happy Housing Games and may the odds be ever in your favor!
by Mary Kekatos '15