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Students discussed alternatives to the housing lottery — including how to revamp the system or provide other choices for on-campus residence — during a series of forums conducted by the Residential Council this week.

ResCouncil hosted three forums ­Sunday, Tuesday and yesterday to solicit feedback on an array of housing issues affecting the student body.

Though students raised various topics at the meetings, ResCouncil consistently brought up the question of how to rework the housing lottery. Because Brown's current housing system does not match any other school's, a new lottery would have to be a "ground-up" creation, ResCouncil Chair Sam Barney '12 told The Herald after Thursday's forum. About 30 students attended Thursday's event.

Input at the forums suggests students approve of their current ability to pick their rooms, ResCouncil Policy Committee Chair Emily Gould '13 said during Thursday's meeting.

ResCouncil is also considering moving the lottery online, but students at the meetings and in talks with ResCouncil were wary of this change. Participants expressed concern over the possibility that the website might crash, which would make the process more stressful, not less. Christina Kata '14, who attended Tuesday's meeting in Arnold Lounge, said she did not like the idea of moving the lottery online because the current system is entrenched in the campus experience.

"It was stressful enough in Sayles," said Kata, referring to her first lottery experience last year, "But it was fun."

Students and ResCouncil members at Thursday's meeting pitched ideas to make an online lottery work, such as ranking top room combinations for a lottery group and then having an online system assign students rooms depending on list priority and room availability. Students also suggested extending the number of days for the lottery and allowing more time to make room selections. According to a survey circulated to the student body via Morning Mail, most students want to see the lottery spread across two weeks rather than having it limited to two nights, said ResCouncil Housing Lottery Committee Chair Andy Chang '13 during Thursday's meeting.

The forums also addressed issues such as reassessment of the suite fee, revival of the first-pick competition and furthering ResCouncil student outreach. Ben Farber '12 attended Thursday's meeting to voice his support for the first-pick competition, calling it a "fun Brown tradition" that can exist as long as rules on campaigning are clarified, he said. Farber himself was part of a winning first-pick competition group in 2009.

Some members of student groups and programs attended the forums to give ResCouncil specific feedback. Maddy Jennewein '14, co-president of the Queer Alliance subgroup GenderAction, attended Tuesday's meeting to discuss with ResCouncil GenderAction's proposal to expand gender-neutral housing options to first-year students and more dorms on campus, she said. ResCouncil is working with GenderAction to provide feedback and counseling on the proposal, Barney said.

Brittany King '12, a community assistant for Minden Hall, has never participated in the housing lottery, but because the students in her care do, it is important for her and other counselors to be knowledgeable about the process, she said.

Though ResCouncil might not incorporate specific policy proposals from the forums, the flow of ideas will help them brainstorm their next steps, Barney said. She added that further outreach attempts, like setting up tables on the Main Green or in the mail room, might be helpful in educating students about housing.


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