Room draw will go online for the 2012-13 academic year

By Kyle Coombs

Sophomores and juniors participating in room draw this year will notice a few changes to the system including an entirely online draw and a system that averages roommates’ numbers, Kathleen McEathron of the Residential Life office said. “There’s always a concern for students to have to commit some time to come to the draw and stand in line for an hour, two hours for the whole process to go through,” she said. “[Going online is] more convenient to pick your room wherever you’re at rather than have to appear and stand in line.” McEathron, the Operations Manager of Residential Life, said that the office started using Housing Director in January, a software program that contains an online room draw component, MyHousing, which students can access through 1600Grand. According to Keith Edwards, Director of Campus Life, Macalester’s move to an online platform is nothing more than following a popular trend. “When we talked with [our] vendor they let us know that all of their clients who consider doing a traditional room draw end up doing it online because of the much better experience for the students,” Edwards wrote in an e-mail. The main challenge is educating students, especially sophomores and juniors, in the new process. Announcements about Room Draw have been on posters around campus, in the Daily Piper, explained at floor meetings and put up on the Residential Life website, McEathron said. Eric Seonbuchner ’14 and six of his teammates from the football team plan to participate in room draw together in some roommate configuration. They are worried that they do not have enough information, he said, since little information has come out since the first Residential Life e-mail at the end of February. “Right now we’re worried we’re going to miss a deadline that we didn’t know about,” Seonbuchner said. “We are supposed to have picked roommates by the 23rd, [but] are you able to do it after that?” A reminder e-mail from Edwards on March 12th showed that many sophomores and juniors probably missed the original deadline, Seonbuchner said. “Will a lot of people miss the deadline?” he said. “Yeah I think so, so ResLife will have to adjust to that.” The website explains room draw in a three step process. From February 27th to March 11th students needed to sign the housing contract on ApplyOnline, then applicants select roommates from March 13th to March 26th and last log onto MyHousing on March 27th to receive a draw number and time and choose a room by April 5th. An e-mail from Edwards explained the application deadline was extended, but students should apply as soon as possible. Applicants are divided into two groups: students who have lived on campus for two semesters, or “first-years,” and those who have lived on campus for longer. Members of the first-year group will receive a randomly assigned number between 3000 and 3600, while the second group will receive a number between 1000 and 2000 after they have selected their roommate groups. The system will use the average number of each group to determine the room draw time. “We’re thinking that [this system] is more fair,” McEathron said. “I think there is always pressure … if you had a really high number, like what are you going to do, or [if] you have a really low number you might have a lot of pressure from other people saying use your number in the best way possible. I think it sort of takes that pressure off a little bit.” This system emphasizes the roommate groups over the actual space on campus, which McEathron said was an improvement. “Not that we don’t want students to get the best rooms,” she said, “but no matter where you live if you’re not in a group that [is] getting along, it’s not as enjoyable.” Seonbuchner disagrees about the fairness of the new system to pick roommates before receiving numbers. “No one, myself included, knew that this was average numbers,” he said. “If everyone in the group gets poor numbers except for one guy, then that’s great for everyone, but that one guy. Also, if a person is a Rising Sophomore letting them in will hurt us.” McEathron is concerned that upperclassmen will not apply in time because the old system allowed them to sign up for a number the day of Room Draw. “We are a little bit concerned that they will not be involved in that and not be able to choose a room,” she said. She added that students do not need to worry about being bound by the housing contract after they apply for a Room Draw number. “Let’s say you decide on Mar. 20 to live with your friends the contract is canceled,” she said. “They’re still not committed until they actually pick a room.” After the draw all leftover rooms will be available to students whose plans change and need a space on campus, McEathron said. The size of a group of roommates will affect what rooms are visible at the time of their draw. If a person has one roommate they will be entered into the doubles and singles draw; if there are four roommates they will only see the quads and four-person suites in their draw. In the case that all of the rooms of a particular size are gone, she said, roommate groups will have to divide. She advised roommate groups to sit together at the same computer when they choose a room, but she doubts a shortage will occur. Residential Life tried to make the system easy to use, but McEathron expects new problems to arise during the process. She urged students to come to the Residential Life offices to work through any encountered problems. Residential Life will be available to answer questions in the Campus Center Atrium from 5 pm to the end of the draw on Tuesday Mar. 27 and Apr. 3 and their offices for the other days of Room Draw. “It’s important for us to keep contact so that students don’t feel like they out there by themselves,” she said. “They’re still going to need to select their room online, but if they want to come over and work with us to do that, we’ll be there and we’ll have the floor plans.”