February 14, 2010

University Reorganizes Housing Lottery

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Rising sophomores will now be the first to choose on-campus housing each spring, after President David Skorton approved the Student Assembly’s Resolution 13 last week. Currently, rising seniors are given the priority in the housing lottery, so they pick housing on the first day of selection. Rising juniors choose on the second day, and rising sophomores choose last. Beginning in spring 2011, this order will be reversed.

The resolution, which the S.A. originally passed in October, had to be returned to the assembly for clarification before Skorton would approve the measure.

“Resolution 13 was [a] big one. It was a pretty popular resolution in the Student Assembly,” said Executive Vice President Nikhil Kumar ’11, who sponsored the resolution.

Despite the resolution’s popularity among students, the S.A.’s charter required that it be sent to Skorton for his approval before implementation. Resolution 13 was considered a legislative action, which requires Skorton’s approval, rather than a sense-of-the-body resolution, which would have simply gone into effect after the S.A.’s vote.

“Skorton sent [the resolution] back asking us to specify when the changes would be implemented, and we specified that they wouldn’t be implemented for this lottery cycle but for spring 2011 cycle, and so once he saw that change he approved the resolution,” Kumar said.

After Skorton requested that the S.A. clarify when the changes would be implemented, the S.A. had to vote to approve the changes to the resolution.

“I personally think [Resolution 13 is] a step in the right direction,” said Arts and Sciences Rep. Jonathan Rau ’12, who is also chair of the S.A. Committee on Residential and Community Life. “It’s a kind of natural progression for seniors to move into Collegetown, but we discussed it with the [Residential and Community Life Committee] and there are definitely strong opinions on both sides.”

After the S.A. originally approved the resolution, Skorton took several weeks to respond.

“We sent [Resolution 13 to Skorton] in October and he got back to us in November and we made the requested changes and sent it back in December. Then he approved it in early February,” Kumar said. “The good part was that throughout the time he was considering the resolution, we were in contact with Campus Life about how to tweak the resolution and improve it.”

Kumar declined to speculate as to why Skorton took so long to respond to both the initial resolution and to the revised version.

When the S.A. initially passed Resolution 13 in October, it also approved two other housing resolutions. The two measures, Resolutions 12 and 14, were considered sense-of-the-body and investigative resolutions, not legislative actions, so they did not require Skorton’s approval.

Resolution 12 was designed to create an in-house lottery system in the Collegetown dormitories, Cascadilla Hall and Sheldon Court, similar to the system already in place on West Campus.

“The resolution calls for the establishment of an in-house lottery system for the Collegetown residences [because] in the past, the people who lived on West Campus … basically had two shots at getting housing for the next year, while those in Collegetown only got one chance. The S.A. thought that was pretty unfair,” Kumar said.

The resolution has already been implemented because it did not require Skorton’s approval, he said.

Resolution 14 “basically calls for [the Department of] Campus Life to release more information about results of past [housing] lotteries and of the current lottery,” Kumar said.

Kumar said he was pleased with the status of the implementation process. “We’re working with Campus Life on [implementing the resolution] and they’ve also been good about publicizing floor plans, so they’re clearly moving in the right direction on that,” he said.

With the three new resolutions, “students will have a little more breathing room to make decisions on housing,” Kumar said. “I remember when I was a freshman, by the time I’d made a decision as to where I wanted to live the next year, all the good places in Collegetown were gone.”

The Residential and Community Life Committee wants to try to bring students more information about housing next semester, Jonathan Rau said.

“Campus housing already has a website where landlords can post things, and we wanted something like ratemylandlord.com where student can rate their landlords,” he said.

“The ResLife Committee is looking into how to have better student relations with landlords and how to create more transparency in the off-campus housing market. I think that off-campus housing is going to be one of the next projects for the S.A,” Kumar said.

Original Author: Keri Blakinger