The Residential Council's competition for the first pick in the housing lottery, held Thursday night in Sayles Hall, showcased a wide variety of student creativity. But there was a common thread among many videos: parody. Spoofs of Law and Order, the Twilight series and the Cutting Crew's hit "Died in your Arms Tonight" were three of eight entries in this year's contest.
The over 300 students who attended the event voted on their favorite entries with paper ballots, and online voting will open up on ResCouncil's Web site within the next week.
According to Jillian Robbins '11, housing lottery committee chair, last year's online votes totaled 1,143. ResCouncil Chair Ben Lowell '10 said the advantage of the voting process is that it gets students to consider their housing options.
"The event is really intended to encourage people to start thinking about housing early," Lowell said. "We found that the people who tend to do the best in the lottery are those who have prepared."
Lowell also acknowledged that the atmosphere of both the first pick competition and the lottery can be quite enjoyable. "It's a fun thing to do, and it's really nice for campus morale."
This was certainly true in the case of one submission, "Brunonian Love," which included a reinvention of a recent Google ad and whose references to University culture elicited several knowing laughs from the audience. Also among the contenders was a group of familiar faces — the reigning first pick champions who won in 2009 with their video "Ruthless." The group, one member larger this year, submitted a sequel in hopes of retaining their current residence in Vartan Gregorian Quad.
"We're only entering because we're not allowed to squat," said Matt Reiss '12, who plays the student-attacking bear in the video. He said he and the other group members think it is unfair that the lottery rules don't allow first pick winners to squat, or stay in their rooms for the rest of their time at Brown. Students who choose their rooms through the normal lottery process are able to squat.
Regardless, Reiss said he thought the competition has gotten better since his group won.
"It's a step up from last year," he said.
Another group of sophomores produced "OceanState's Eleven," which depicted a heist reminiscent of the Rat Pack to retrieve the coveted first pick from a devious Mr. Manslaughter. Sam Helman '12, who played Mr. OceanState, said the group wrote the script over winter break and has been working on it since the semester started. Though Helman said he thinks the competing videos were funny, theirs is "a strong contender to win it."
"Sunset," the Twilight parody, was devised by a dozen freshman, including Seth Nolan '13.
Nolan said that it wasn't long after the group came together that someone proposed the idea to feature stand-ins for Bella, Jacob and Edward in their housing video. Nolan also acknowledged that the other videos were "very original, very well-planned."
While the high caliber of submissions remains uncontested, what is up for debate is the best choice of on-campus housing.
"Probably Young Orchard," Helman said.
"We were thinking possibly New Dorm," Nolan said.
"I know a lot of rising sophomores want Caswell or Slater," said spectator Maya Chay '13.
Lowell and Robbins said if they were given first pick, their choice would depend on their class year and number of people in their housing group, but maintained that there are many prime rooms to be chosen on lottery day.
"There are a lot of hidden gems on campus," Robbins said.
The winners will be notified after online voting ends, and they then have until March 9 to choose their room. Until then, the vying groups will have to sweat over a close race.
"It was almost hard to vote for my own video," Nolan said.