Freshmen In Next House Can Take Part In REX

Beginning next fall, freshmen placed in Next House during the summer will be able to participate in Residence Exploration and enter the Housing Readjustment Lottery. McCormick Hall was not included in the change.

In past years, freshmen placed in Next House and McCormick were not able to switch into a different dormitory during their first year because of Residence-Based Advising.

In order to have time to process the advisor changes of students who move in or out of Next House next fall, the timetable for REX will be moved up, with freshmen arriving earlier and the Readjustment Lottery closing a couple of hours earlier as well.

Next House President Franklyn F. Lau ’08 said that while the change is primarily for those students who go through REX and wish to switch to a different community, it also helps the rest of Next House and the student body.

Dormitory Council President Sarah C. Hopp ’08 said the change was “really good news” for Next House residents. “They can focus on getting a community that wants to live in Next House without worrying about not being able to move out,” Hopp said.

Lau said that during this year’s REX, Next House Housemaster Muriel Medard observed that there were several students who wanted to move into Next and several who wanted to move out, but none were allowed to make the change. As a result, Medard entered the negotiation process this fall to push for the change, Lau said.

Negotiations began during the spring between the Next House government, the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Planning, and the Housing Office.

By that time, housing information had already been mailed out to incoming freshmen and it was too late to change the policy for the Class of 2011, said Senior Associate Dean Julie B. Norman of the UAAP.

Instead, the talks continued into the fall and culminated last Thursday, said Lau, who actively pushed for the change because many students at Next House “wanted this flexibility.”

McCormick Hall, which also has RBA, is not part of the REX change. Norman said McCormick was involved in the negotiations in the spring, but was not as committed as Next House, since the current system seems to work for McCormick.

“We’ll wait to see what happens with Next House and go one step at a time,” McCormick Housemaster Charles H. Stewart III said. “[The way] we’re doing RBA in McCormick has worked for seven years. … We’ve trusted our experience. Next House has trusted their experience.”

Few students want to leave McCormick, said Robin Smedick, assistant director of undergraduate housing. “There’s usually the opposite problem,” Smedick said. “More people want to live in McCormick than there are spaces.”

Grace Yao ’11, Undergraduate Association Senator for McCormick, said the interest in having the lottery option at McCormick “was mostly because residents felt in principle that it’s only fair that they be allowed the same options as everyone else, not because they were unhappy about living here.”

Norman said the UAAP worked with Housing to do a complete analysis of the freshman housing process to determine whether or not Next House’s request could be accommodated. “We found that with minor tweaking of the Orientation schedule, we can make this happen,” Norman said.

Freshmen will now be required to arrive on campus a few hours earlier than in the past, by noon on Saturday of Orientation week, Norman said.

The Readjustment Lottery will close two-and-a-half hours earlier, at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, because students moving in and out of Next House will need to be assigned new advisors. In anticipation of these last minute advising changes, there will be an excess of traditional advising spots in both Next RBA and traditional advising to accommodate the students who move, Norman said.

“Any student who is in a seminar will have to transfer into traditional advising,” Norman said, so students will have to weigh whether housing or an advising seminar is more important to them.

Students will know the results of the lottery on Wednesday of the week of orientation at approximately 6:30 p.m. and can meet with their new advisors the next day to register for classes.

According to Smedick’s assessment of the last few years’ data, Norman said, very few freshmen entered the Readjustment Lottery in the last few hours because most students were at Orientation programs during that time. Thus, the change is “not a time lost for students,” Norman said.

Students will probably be less opposed to ranking Next House in their top choices “knowing they’ll have the option to move out if they choose to,” Smedick said. This change should result in a larger percentage of students receiving one of their top three dormitory choices in the Summer Housing Lottery, she added.

In the past, approximately 15–23 percent of eligible students have entered the Readjustment Lottery. While it is difficult to estimate how many Next House students will enter the lottery, Smedick said, “we don’t anticipate a huge impact on the overall system.” The logistical difficulties are “more on the advising side than in the physical running of the lottery,” Smedick said.

Smedick said there are usually 10–15 students moving into or out of each dormitory after the Readjustment Lottery.