Dorms implement new room assignment procedures

Squatting and mutual selection are not allowed anymore

All residence halls this year had to allow first years to remain in their temporary rooms if they did not want to move after REX (a procedure known as “squatting”), following a rooming redesign exercise done last year. In addition, upper-level students could not preference or select which new students lived in their community (a procedure known as “mutual selection”).

Mutual selection was previously part of the room assignment process in dorms including East Campus and Burton Conner.

BC President Alice Zhang ’21 wrote in an email to The Tech that room assignments were “made successfully with no major issues to date.” In lieu of mutual selection, the dorm used an algorithm and a “values based selection process” with questions about the type of community students wanted to be in.

EC attempted using two algorithms sequentially to place first years first based on their preferences after visiting all the halls in the dorm. However, EC President Adriana Jacobsen ’20 wrote in an email to The Tech that the algorithms “could not generate enough results that met the requests of the students being assigned to new rooms, including cats/clothing-optional preferences.” EC decided to use its algorithm from last year for the rooming process, and is modifying the planned algorithm to make it work in the future.

In addition to eliminating mutual selection, all dorms also allowed first years to squat. In BC, first years were expected to move rooms through Floor Exploration (FLEX), but they could approach the house-team with special circumstances. According to Zhang, this “did not greatly disrupt the rooming process,” as most first years moved rooms. The system in East Campus was arranged the same way, with only two out of 117 first years choosing to remain in their temporary rooms, Jacobsen wrote.

Dorms that did not previously use mutual selection and allowed squatting did not change their processes as significantly. Lily Huo ’21, Maseeh Hall rooming assignment committee chair, wrote that the rooming process in Maseeh “has always had a very structure[d] and standardized procedure” in an email to The Tech. According to Huo, freshman squatting is “embedded in the rooming process,” as “freshmen can essentially squat by not participating in the housing lottery, which is optional.”

Vice President and Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson wrote in an email to The Tech, “Anecdotally, I have heard that the room-assignment processes also went pretty smoothly overall — there were some things that worked well and some things that we need to work on, which is to be expected when implementing something new.” 

According to Nelson, the administration is working on gathering “quantitative data” and “qualitative feedback” on how these new rooming procedures were implemented. Among other sources, this data will come from surveys to be sent out to students, as well as information that the dorms will provide.

“It’s too early to draw conclusions, but I am proud of what we have accomplished with students and house teams so far, and I look forward to an even better opening next year,” Nelson wrote.