The Ides of March is more than just the commemoration of the death of Julius Caesar. March 15 is, perhaps appropriately, also the day when the Department of Community Living (DCL) releases its priority numbers for the housing lottery. In a way, the two events are almost identical, replete with alliances, secrets and backstabbing. However, the housing lottery of 2017, or LottoGate as it is becoming increasingly known, became even more tumultuous than it has been in previous years due to a heinous error on behalf of DCL.
At 8:30 p.m. on March 15, an email was released claiming an error in the DCL systems in regard to how numbers were assigned. Juniors and seniors, rather than being combined into the same lottery as has been done in previous years—and as was confirmed in a campus-wide vote last academic year—were separated into two separate pools, essentially guaranteeing housing for rising seniors and severely limiting the available housing options for rising juniors.
To remedy this, the solution given by DCL was a second lottery, with numbers to be released around noon on Thursday, March 16. Basically, the original lottery that occurred on March 15 is null and void, and those who had already made plans given those numbers previously released must now completely readjust their plans after a hectic day.
After the email that was sent out, a screenshot of the housing guidelines, which were released before the initial set of numbers was assigned, began circulating on Facebook, stating that “Rising seniors will receive #s [sic] 1-635, rising juniors will receive #s 636-1382.” The DCL Facebook page posted an apology to students, stating that their computerized housing system automatically updated the housing guidebook in order to give preferential treatment by class. However, this does not make up for the stress experienced by thousands of Brandeis students.
To add insult to injury, on March 16, the day of the second lottery, DCL was over an hour late in releasing housing numbers. When numbers were finally released, many rising seniors found that their numbers had been almost exactly doubled, leaving many afraid that they will not be able to find housing.
Rising juniors shared a barrage of angry posts due to their less ideal situation after being largely led to believe that they would be unable to find housing, and the change to the lottery and subsequent repeat of the lottery has caused an immense amount of undue stress to the rising upperclassmen student body as a whole. Numerous students have taken to social media to voice their outrage at the change, especially given that DCL painted this as a computer error without explaining the nature of the error, and the fact that the error could have been spotted by any member of DCL who simply read the housing guidebook.
Needless to say, this is absolutely unacceptable on behalf of DCL, which sent an email that was painstakingly crafted in order to deflect the blame on a computer error. DCL, which claims that it is “made up of individuals who care about each student,” is recklessly creating a toxic and stressful environment within the student body. The housing lottery is not something to be taken lightly. It is a serious process that, even when running smoothly, causes high amounts of stress for the students. For DCL to now come out and say that it was all a mistake and that the whole process needs to be repeated is a disgrace.
DCL fed many seniors false hopes that they would all miraculously be able to get the Ridgewood or Foster Mod that they wanted. For DCL to simply say “we apologize for the added stress of the issue, and are committed to a fair and just housing selection process” is absolutely unacceptable. Add the fact that DCL severely delayed the re-release of lottery numbers on Thursday, and they have numerous mistakes to answer for.
DCL has consistently misled and lied to both students and parents regarding the lottery, and their continued actions have had a real impact on the stress levels and mental health of students. And they fully expected the student body to just accept their irresponsible actions. A brief apology is not enough to compensate for what has occurred over the past few days. A more comprehensive apology as well as a detailed and more thorough explanation of why this error occurred to begin with is necessary. Until then, a lukewarm apology with no explanation that reduces the entire incident to an “error in coding” is just not enough.