Students navigate new lottery changes

The lottery for on-campus housing is currently underway and several recent changes to the room selection process have created both challenges and opportunities for students looking to live on campus.

On December 18, 2009, Vice President of Student Life Eddie Ade Knowles and Vice President for Administration Claude Rounds sent out an e-mail to the student body detailing the provisions of the new room selection process. These changes include the requirement that all second-year undergraduate students live on campus and participate in a meal plan, with the exception of those sophomores who have been accepted as new members of a fraternity or sorority that has signed the Greek Life Commons Agreement before February 1.

Additionally, specific locations were designated sophomore housing, including: Burdett Avenue Residence Hall, the Quadrangle, Warren Hall, Davison Hall, Nugent Hall, Sharp Hall, Apartments in Bray, Cary, and Crockett Halls, The Rennselaer Apartment Housing Project, and Stacwyck Apartments.

Upperclassmen belonging to Alpha Phi, Delta Phi, and Fiji will be permitted to continue living in the sophomore designated areas of Stacwyck and RAHPS.

Dean of Students Mark Smith sent out an e-mail late on Monday night to members of the Alumni Inter-Greek Council, Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council, undergraduate chapter presidents, house corporation presidents and chapter advisors providing updated information regarding Housing Grants, bursar billing, and the Greek Housing Agreement.

According to Knowles, delays in finalizing the housing grant policy led to the extension of the deadline for greeks to sign the Greek Life Commons Agreement to February 15. Housing grants provide students with additional assistance for meeting the cost of room and board living in Rensselaer housing. Greek students living at their chapter house can only apply their housing grants to having a meal plan on campus and not to chapter house room and board. Knowles anticipates an additional notification will be sent out in the near future detailing the progress of students signing up for rooms and meal plans, along with a timeline for the lottery for upperclassmen.

Associate Dean of Residence Life Amanda Bingel held an open question-and-answer session on January 27 in order to discuss on-campus housing changes with students. According to Bingel, approximately 55 percent of sophomores, 35 percent of juniors and 25 percent of seniors tend to live on campus.

In addition to working with Public Safety to improve campus safety by increasing their presence on and off campus, Bingel stated that, “We are in the process of working … to increase the frequency, number and variety of bus routes on campus as well as around [the city].” Bingel also offered apartment search assistance to those students looking to live off-campus.

Additionally, Bingel addressed concerns about theme housing, stating that only Arda in Warren Hall and Ground Zero in Nugent Hall will continue to allow upperclassmen to dorm there. She added that “… we are definitely looking into a larger variety of themed housing as an option for changes in future residence life…”

The changes to the on-campus housing process has led to more students signing off-campus housing agreements earlier than usual according to local landlord Tom Garrett, who owns several properties surrounding campus. Garrett stated that “Normally students don’t even start looking for apartments for another month and all of my apartments have already been leased for next year except for one.”

On January 28, Grand Marshal Michael Zwack ’11 hosted a question-and-answer session open to the entire student body. Student comments ranged from frustration over the recent changes to a desire to pursue constructive ways to participate in future changes.

The Student Senate passed a motion on February 1 in response to changes in the housing process. The motion expresses dissatisfaction with current on-campus housing and communication from the Division of Student Life regarding the changes. It also includes an invitation to members of the Student Life Division to a roundtable discussion on the housing process with members of the student senate.

Regarding the current lottery process, Zwack stated that, “We were able to change some things in the process this year and the ultimate goal is to create a process for next year that is widely received as acceptable for the students and the institute.”

Apartments in the Polytech Commons filled up over the weekend after the first one hundred students, forcing approximately three hundred students who applied to turn elsewhere. Of these students, those who had also applied to Blitman were given priority in their lottery number for Blitman.