Room selection resembles something out of Panem

February 27, 2015

Next week the Number Games begin. Soon, across our dining halls and classrooms, from Shapiro to Shapiro to Shapiro our students will duke it out to conquer that resource so valuable men would lie, cheat and (hopefully not) kill to acquire it: housing. Some of you have been planning for ages, ruthlessly studying floor plans and interviewing residents to determine our kingdom’s largest single or best view. For others, room selection has snuck up on them like an assassin slithering through the night and now ready to kill their hopes of the ideal room. No matter your position, now is the time to find your allies, make your groups, and cast your lot in the great lottery to determine your fate for the next year. Winter might not be coming, but that dreaded lottery number email is.

OK, I hope we can agree that room selection really ought not to be like medieval warfare or some dystopian future combat, but the stress it seems to evoke among our students is striking. I’ve seen panic attacks, arguments and generally upset behavior result whenever room selection is talked about. The Department of Community Living has tried to minimize the impacts on students, but their current policy hasn’t really done a good job assuaging fears or making the process simple.

This year’s room selection has the added bonus of one residence hall that may or may not collapse into the ground at any moment. Ever since the first safety inspections of Usen Castle were launched, rumors have been flying around campus. I’ve heard about collapsed roofs, water leaks, electrical issues, bad smells and all kinds of other problems. I’ve heard only minor repairs are required and that the entire building needs to be condemned. I honestly don’t know the truth of any of these rumors, and I honestly don’t know where to find answers. I can’t get access to the actual structural reports, and DCL’s official position that the Castle is perfectly sound seems to fly in the face of an increasing amount of anecdotal evidence to the contrary. The fact that I received an email at the end of last semester telling me that I should stay away from the Castle, in case parts of the building fall off and hit me, makes me personally afraid to pick a room there. Ultimately, I don’t know if the Castle is safe or not, but the way the DCL has handled this issue makes them seem unreliable.

Unfortunately, the way this process was handled in general makes it difficult to trust that it’ll be efficient. The information about room selection, nominally available on the DCL website, wasn’t updated until recently. This made it impossible for first years to plan ahead, especially since most students are constantly subjected to random and certainly overblown rumors from upperclassman. That being said, there is some hope for improvement in the system. Although it took a long time for DCL to update the room selection website, the current information is both complete and accurate. The information online now is really helpful, and will definitely assist students when it comes down to actually deciding which room to pick. In fact, the numerous online tours and other information online really helped me make my decisions more easily.

In addition, the proxy system that DCL has set up should really help students out who don’t have computer access when their number is called. Seeing as the window is so narrow for selections to be made, allowing students to contact DCL and not have to worry about getting access to their laptop while in class really lowers the stress of the system. That being said, it does create a burden on students to provide DCL with enough information in case their initial choices are denied. I could easily imagine a situation where a student’s first choice is picked right before their number comes up, and without a backup plan DCL might choose housing the student didn’t intend.

Housing selection so far has been a mixed bag. The information we’ve received about the process from DCL has so far been incomplete and suspect, but every indication shows that that has changed. With the days counting down until that stressful moment, it’s time to get ready for the Number Games and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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