After a shortage in rooms listed on the Office of Residential Life’s student housing portal left some members of the class of 2025 without room assignments, many ended the spring 2022 semester uncertain of where they would live in the fall.
Due to complications with its initial process, ResLife opened a second housing lottery and an additional assignment process over the summer for those who did not select housing in the April lottery. Several upperclassmen elected to move off campus after receiving their placements.
In an email to The Herald, Brenda Ice, senior associate dean and senior director of residential life, wrote that 165 sophomores were unable to select housing after the second lottery.
The Herald spoke with seven students about their experiences with the housing process and where they wound up.
Michael Lu ’25 described the initial housing lottery experience as stressful and frustrating.
“The first moment when the reports started coming in of how quickly housing was going out, we were really angry because we had spent so much time looking at Brown Bear Dens, looking at the spreadsheets,” he said. “Like hours and hours every day that we should have spent probably studying or just relaxing.”
Lu explained that while the second housing lottery was similar to the first, ResLife did not release spreadsheets of available dorms prior to the process, so students could not plan to select specific rooms.
Despite the outcome of the initial lottery, some students told The Herald that they found ResLife’s support and the later lottery helpful and were satisfied with the outcome of their housing.
Lu received a large single in Hegeman Hall during the second lottery. “It’s quiet housing, so it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for,” Lu said about his current room. “But it’s really nice, and all around, I have no complaints.”
Like Lu, Zoe Siegel ’25 ended up pleased with her room assignment after the second housing lottery. She and her friends were assigned doubles in a suite. The other rooms in her suite belong to people she did not know beforehand, but Siegel said it did not worry her.
Lu and Siegel both expressed sympathy toward their peers who received housing late into the first lottery, as they received the leftover housing — for example, Perkins Hall. “It just didn’t really sit right with me,” Siegel said.
Unlike Siegel and Lu, Ava Ward ’25 didn’t receive housing through the first or second lottery.
Ward said that she was told by ResLife that she would be assigned housing by July.
“I was very surprised because I was expecting housing,” Ward said. “But I still felt confident that I was going to get housing. I also felt that they would most likely be very receptive to any requests I had since it was an unusual situation.”
After Ward learned that she would not receive housing through the secondary lottery, ResLife coordinated a meeting between her and a representative to discuss the situation. “I really liked that, because I’m sure some people were frustrated,” Ward said. “I think it takes some courage to open yourself up to criticism.”
“Over the remainder of the spring semester and throughout the summer, residential life staff gathered housing preference information from (students without housing assignments) via forms, emails and conversations,” Ice wrote. They “then made individual assignments that endeavored to match the students’ stated preferences for roommates and room configurations with the available housing.”
According to Ice, 80% of the 165 sophomores received housing assignments before the end of June, while the rest received their placements by Aug. 2.
After the first housing lottery, ResLife reopened the application for students to move off campus. Aaliyah Battle ’24 applied to move off campus after receiving her housing assignment: a suite in Graduate Center separate from the rest of her housing group. She said after receiving approval she was informed she would have to formally accept the decision within a week.
“We (were) already in the spring semester,” Battle said. “We’re like months late to the process. We had to tour, talk to landlords, look up places, tour them again and then decide on where we’re going to stay within a week.” Battle did go through with the process and felt satisfied with her find.
“Sending 500 20-year-olds out into College Hill to sign the first lease of their lives in a week is just bound to be a disaster,” said Ethan Drake ’24, who also ended up obtaining off campus housing after the initial lottery.
Jada Wooten ’24 and Lauren Griffiths ’24 — who organized a protest last spring pushing for changes within ResLife after the first lottery failed — said that one of their goals for this coming year is to push for more student involvement in ResLife.
After the protest, “we were able to meet with people at ResLife,” Griffiths said. “We had a pretty constructive meeting about different ideas that students had.”
ResLife “admitted to a lot of the shortcomings that they had last year, especially with the understaffing of the department and the way the housing lottery went,” said Drake, who also attended the meeting. “It was nice to have that meeting, but we didn’t get a lot of concrete plans going forward.”
As a result of that meeting, Wooten was offered a position over the summer to work on a search committee within ResLife. She said that the committee was primarily concerned with operations within ResLife, including expanding the size of the department.
“We have received feedback from students about their experiences with the housing selection processes last spring and have been developing plans that incorporate that feedback for the next round of selection processes,” Ice wrote. “We will be seeking additional feedback from students on our changes for key improvements and then sharing more information in the coming weeks.”