Students Still Unsatisfied with Room Draw Reform
The words "room draw" often evoke dread and anxiety in a large percentage of the student population. This year, however, the Housing and Facilities Advisory Committee (HFAC) worked in conjunction with Campus Life to bring about changes in the room draw process that they hoped would alleviate some of these negative feelings. HFAC and the rest of the College finally got a chance to see how these changes affected the room draw experience, as students finished selecting rooms this past Sunday, April 18.
HFAC, a committee created by the Student Government Association (SGA), is made up of SGA representatives, students and members of the administration. The committee worked all year to determine what type of changes students were looking for. In response to HFAC's findings, SGA approved three major changes to the room draw policies this year.
The first of these is that the senior housing quota has increased from around 20 percent to 35 percent. This 15 percent increase gave the rising senior class greater access to rooms in every building. Consequently, almost all of the largest rooms and most desirable suites on campus, such as five-mans and quads, were filled by the time seniors were finished selecting rooms.
"The one thing I really like about this change is that, regardless of their number, every senior will get something they're happy with," Justin Rouse '12, one of the SGA representatives who spearheaded the HFAC reforms, said.
The second change in policy that was made this year was the introduction of block housing in the Hillside and un-renovated Roberts Row dorms. With block housing, one student can pick a "block" and pull four, five or six people into a set group of rooms that are next to each other.
Finally, the third change made in the room draw process this year was "number chunking," which gave students a better idea of when their numbers would be called. Rather than having everyone show up at the start of room draw and wait around for as long as two hours, Campus Life broke numbers into groups and sent students an e-mail before room draw allotting numbers into specific time slots.
"Number chunking is really making [the room draw process] less of a hassle," Rouse said.
Kim Kenniston, associate director of Campus Life, said that the number chunking process had mixed results. "We ran a little bit behind schedule but [in the future] we need people to trust and believe in it more."
Rouse said that he has heard that "overall people seem to be happy" so far this year, and he believes that "the drama of room draw has been greatly mitigated this year because of the new policies."
However, some other students may beg to differ. Luke Siebert '12 said that he found it frustrating that "expanding senior quotas barely benefitted the rising senior class [and left] rising juniors with minimal options and rising sophomores with even fewer options."
Megan Browning '10 said that she feels "the system is generally inefficient" and suggested that "Colby would do well to make the system electronic." She added, "In an age where everything is becoming electronic and the internet is so central to communication...an electronic system in which students could view floor plans online and make choices from their own computers at a given time slot would streamline the process for everyone."
Molly Rogers '13 was part of a small group that tried unsuccessfully to renew the Green Dorm's approval this year. She said she was "frustrated with the lack of support from the student body and the administration," in her group's efforts. "I feel Colby can and should do better on the subject of environmental living," she said.
Room draw is a sensitive subject for many here on the Hill. Yet Kenniston assured students that, "We do the best we can with what we have" and that although some students have been placed on the waitlist, "We guarantee housing" and "we will stay and talk to every student that wants to talk."
Rouse said that "rising juniors are going to be a little bit less thrilled" about their housing options, but he thinks it will be a "fair trade-off given how great the rewards will be when they become seniors."
And in the end, "if people aren't happy, we can definitely change that for next year with the formal review process that takes place after room draw," Rouse said.
Kenniston's advice for students who are still worked up about room draw is, "Just breathe....Sometimes you get so caught up in it, but you just need to breathe. We're going to work things out."