By Allison Schoenauer
Elm Staff Writer

Spring is one of the hardest times for students here at Washington College. Seniors probably have the worst time of it—they’re scrambling to finish their thesis, killing themselves over comps, filling out applications for jobs, or worrying about living in their mother’s basement for the next six months. The non-seniors have to go through the process of whittling down possible classes to a manageable four or five, and they have to go through the screw that is housing.

And for the couple hundred who don’t move into specialty housing, squat, or move off campus, students have to experience the mess that is room draw.

I consider myself lucky. I’ve never had to experience room draw, and I probably never will. But the process of having to explain how it works (most of my information coming from one of the secretaries in residential life and the first-hand experiences of older friends) to someone who has never experienced room draw or has experienced a more orderly form of room selection, shows just how out-of-hand room draw can become.
For instance, one of my suitemates is a transfer from a larger university in New York. She explained their room selection as a completely online affair. You go to the website. You state your intentions. If applicable, you state your preferred dorm situation. If applicable, you state your roommates. Hit send. Hear back a week later. Done.

Honestly it blew my mind. There are colleges that don’t give out lottery numbers, corral students together, randomly call out numbers, leave students to hope for the best?

The random element of housing is what bothers me the most. When I got my lottery number this semester, I was disappointed because I got what I assumed was a really good number and I thought it was wasted on me. I’m not going to be on campus next year, so why should I even be given a number? It turned out that, no, if I had gone to room draw I would have been the 200th person called instead of the 20th. That would have been nice to know earlier in the evening, when I offered my number and my name as a faux-fourth roommate to one of my suitemates, who drew a bad number.

Also, why is someone who is not going to be using WC housing even getting a lottery number? I had already been accepted into study abroad by the time the numbers came out. I had already responded to the acceptance and said that I would be going abroad. The only thing that would stop me from going abroad is if the host university would deny me acceptance from their university—which they probably won’t—and I wouldn’t find out about that until May, months after this nonsense.

The answer to my own rhetorical question is that the number was a safeguard. Study abroad students are given numbers as a safe guard so that, if anything happens and they are not accepted into their host universities, they still have a place to stay here at the college. Let’s be honest, though—who in study abroad actually got a room here for next year?

I understand that I should be lucky for going to a school where I can be guaranteed housing for all four years. That doesn’t happen at all schools. This was the only school that I applied to that promised housing for all four years, and I know it’s because this is a small school. It’s a small school with big aspirations and if the College is going to expand, it has to clean up room draw; make it a more concise and clearer process. Signing up for classes, for instance, is run on a good, smooth, proven system. Why not run room draw the same way?

The Elm

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