The Residential Life Department has recently announced several changes to the housing selection and room draw process for the 2017-2018 academic year. Application forms and sign-ups for on-campus housing began on Monday, Feb. 13, and room draw this year will start on April 5.
The most significant change to the general room draw process is the redefinition of the groups that students form to enter the room draw process. In previous years, students were only able to form room groups, but the 2017 room draw will also offer the option to form “time groups.”
“This [is] to prevent some mishaps last year, when one person would enter a suite or double by themselves and block out other people from being able to take the suite or double,” Student Housing Advisory Committee member Justin Lee ’19 said.
Time groups, which can include up to six students, will all receive the same time slot to pick rooms, like room groups in previous years, but will be required to select rooms with occupancies matching the number of students in their group.
“For example, let’s say in a [time] group of six, two people were trying to live in a double and the other four were trying to live in a four-[person] suite,” Lee said. “They would have to break into two room groups of size two and size four and then enter the room[s that] they would like.”
Residential Life has also designated 75 percent of dorm rooms as single-gender in order to create a more balanced gender ratio in the dormitories. All of these rooms will be assigned as either for women or for men. When students choose their rooms during room draw, they will only be able to choose from the rooms that are designated for their gender.
Because some students are gender-nonconforming or transgender, about 25 percent of the rooms will be coed and can be occupied by any student.
As with housing selection processes in previous years, students with housing accommodations and students over 25 years old will be placed into their rooms for next year prior to room draw.
“This way, we take everyone out who is not participating in the general room draw process so we can focus on the general group of students,” said Colonna.
Residential Life is also adding an extra night for room selection, making the room draw process four nights long, instead of three.
The first two nights of room draw will take place on April 5 and 6, and then the last two nights will take place a week later, on April 11 and 12. This will “[give Residential Life] the ability to spread people out more when choosing rooms and allows more time for assistance,” said Colonna.
Colonna said that last year’s housing selection data demonstrated a widespread demand for substance-free and quiet housing. In response, Residential Life has designated Morrow, Valentine Hall, Chapman, Seligman, Tyler and Wieland as “quiet halls.” Morrow and Valentine will also be substance-free dormitories.
“Quiet does not mean silent,” said Colonna. “We are creating spaces where there would not be the ability to register a party on a weekend and that overall the people who are there are agreeing to keeping noise and disruption to a minimum for the community.”
Update: Chief Student Affairs Officer Suzanne Coffey sent an email to the community at 4:14 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23 stating that the college has withdrawn proposed changes to the housing selection that would have designated rooms by sex. “Gender inclusive housing will remain our policy in all upper-class residence halls,” she wrote. “We recognize and apologize for the impact the proposals described in The Amherst Student have had on our community.” The Residential Life website has been updated to reflect these changes. This article was updated at 9:55 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23.