March 7, 2001

Housing Lottery Draws Near

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This Friday and Saturday, 2,263 Cornellians will test their luck in the University’s housing lottery, the results of which will determine their on-campus accommodations for the 2001-02 academic year.

The basic process of the housing lottery remains unchanged from previous years. Students had until Feb. 15 to sign up to receive a lottery number. Numbers were then randomly assigned to students by class, with rising seniors receiving the best numbers. Students learned their lottery rankings on Monday.

According to Patrick Savolskis, manager of the Housing and Dining Co-op Office, the actual room selection process on Friday and Saturday will also be fairly similar to past housing lotteries. Room charts will be posted to show students which beds are still available, and students will be called up based on their lottery numbers to select rooms. At that point they will have the option of pulling in roommates.

“I strongly recommend that students go into the lottery with more than one plan,” Savolskis said. “Many times, students go in with a particular room in mind, and when that doesn’t work out, roommates stand there and argue about it. Make sure you go in with a backup plan.”

While the actual process remained largely unaltered, some significant changes have been made to on-campus housing. North Campus is completely reserved for incoming freshmen, leaving housing lottery participants to choose between West Campus and Collegetown accommodations. Additionally, while always guaranteed for freshmen, University housing is now guaranteed for all rising sophomores.

Some students cited this guarantee as a prime motivator in their decisions to live on-campus for another year. Other reasons for choosing University housing included social opportunities and convenience.

“I think that dorm life is important to building strong relationships with your peers,” Casey Burt ’04 said. “I don’t think I’ve had the best opportunity to do that living in a low rise; I feel rather secluded.”

“I didn’t want to take care of the bills and everything, or for that matter clean the bathroom of an apartment,” Kyu Rhee ’02 said.

As a rising senior, Rhee said he saw no problem in the lack of guaranteed housing for juniors and seniors.

“I think the system’s fine,” Rhee said. “The student population is so large that you can’t guarantee housing to juniors and seniors. It’s just part of the business.”

Rhee does not think he will have a problem obtaining on-campus housing because last year he was on the housing waiting list and was still offered a spot in Cascadilla Hall, his first-choice dormitory.

While Rhee was able to move off the waiting list before classes began last fall, many students were not so lucky. According to Savolskis, predictions about the number of accepted students who would choose to attend Cornell were too low. The University could not meet the housing demand, and about 140 freshmen were forced to live in temporary housing, such as dormitory lounges, until permanent accommodations could be found.

“All the things that could have gone wrong did, but we’ve done a lot to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Savolskis said. “Admissions is being more careful with their numbers. They are putting a lot more into making sure they get an accurate picture of the yield off their acceptance.”

There is enough on-campus housing to accommodate every student in the housing lottery, Savolskis said. And, when Mews and Court Halls open in the fall, they will provide North Campus with more than 400 additional beds.

Despite potential concerns from past housing problems, most students are pleased with their housing lottery experiences.

“The process has been simple and user friendly,” Casey Burt said. “It was merely a matter of filling out a simple form and waiting for your number. I got a decent number for a freshman, so I was actually thrilled. Now just cross your fingers so I get a good room.”

Archived article by Abigail Conover