Author: Lucy Feickert
The room draw process is slightly different this year due to the results of a student poll distributed by Residential Education and Housing Services (REHS). REHS released a survey on Oct. 8 asking students what they wanted the room draw process to look like this coming spring. Following the lead of the majority of respondents, REHS did not change the way in which rooms were divided among the grades, but did make some changes to the senior room draw process.
The student survey addressed two elements of room distribution. First, REHS looked at how to divide the rooms in each residence. For the past three years, a third of each type of room in every hall was reserved for each class, according to Associate Director of Housing Services Michelle Saldana. Based on the majority vote of 181 student votes, REHS will continue to divide residence halls in the same manner. This result means that students’ room draw number matters in the pool of their grade, not among the entire student body.
The rest of the students’ votes were split among three other choices. “Purely Seniority-Seniors can pick all their rooms, then Juniors etc,” received 154 votes and
“School wide lottery, class standing doesn’t matter,” received 39 votes.
Students also had the opportunity to write in their own idea of how rooms distribution should occur, which 36 students did.
“I like the fact that they distribute the rooms evenly. It’s not seniority when it comes to housing, which I think is good,” undeclared Rachel Cohn (first year) said.
Theater and psychology double major Emma Blickenstaff (senior), liked the multi-age community formed in residence halls but not the potential for bad luck in room draw. “It does mix the classes well, and I enjoy that, but I also think that can be frustrating sometimes if a senior has gotten a bad room draw number every year and is living in a Stearns single for the third year in a row,” Blickenstaff said.
The second part of the survey addressed the fees imposed on rising seniors in room draw. The survey asked students if fees should be applied upon registration in room draw or once a senior claimed a room. The majority of students, 274, voted that seniors should not have fees imposed until they actually select a room and not when they register for room draw. Based on this result, REHS will implement the change, allowing seniors financial freedom until they have selected a room and committed to living on campus.
Rising seniors will have more freedom in to work out their living arrangements because they will not have the pressure of committing to a residential choice, on or off campus, before they know their on campus options.
“It’s better if seniors have the chance to say, ‘I might want to live on campus but I’m not sure yet,’ and not have the pay anything to do that,” Blickenstaff said.
In order to accommodate the fluctuating choices of seniors, REHS has decided to change the timeline of room draw for the spring. Rising seniors will select their rooms two weeks before the rest of the student body, allowing REHS to know how many seniors will be living off campus so they can determine how many juniors will be able to live off campus as well. Rising juniors, in turn, will be able to find out earlier whether or not they can live off campus or if they need to find on-campus roommates.
Saldaña has noticed that more students, and seniors in particular, are choosing to live on-campus and attributed it to community on campus.
“I think there’s a sense of community, a sense of convenience of living on campus as well, all the dining facilities are here. I think it also helps that dining facilities are open a little later,” Saldaña said. ”It helps that there’s something to do later in the halls, the RAs are doing really effective programming in their halls to engage the residents and develop a sense of community.”
However, students’ choice to live on-campus could also be attributed to the fact that students’ financial aid will be reduced if they choose to live off campus, according to Occidental’s website.
This survey is part of a REHS plan to regularly evaluate and update the room draw system on campus and get input from students. REHS Fall Feedback sessions, occurring in rotating residence halls this semester, also provide students with the opportunity to contact REHS directly with questions and concerns regarding housing at Occidental.
“I think it’s important if students can attend those info sessions,” Saldaña said. “Myself, Ross Maxwell, and Juls White, who oversees the residential education portion, are there to be able to answer any questions, provide any feedback. There are questions we get asked that we don’t have an immediate answer, but that’s something we bring back to our associate dean and review that information. We’re always open to any feedback. It’s not something that will impact an immediate change, but it’s not something we’re reluctant to review.”
This article has been archived, for more requests please contact us via the support system.