With the arrival of spring comes the inevitable stress of housing selection for the 2012-2013 school year. General Room Selection, or GRS, numbers were released on Wednesday, April 11, but many rising sophomores and a few juniors sidestepped the process by applying to program housing, community-based living, or the Copenhagens and six-person clusters available to sophomores in The Butterfields.
Though bids for program housing were offered before spring break, a number of houses did not fill their spaces through the normal application process, and offered a second round of applications—known as “open bids”—from March 30 until April 6. The open bid process works much like the typical program housing application process, in that interested parties fill out the same application as those in the initial application process. The difference lies in the fact that students in this round are admitted to houses on a rolling basis. Open bids afford a second chance to students who might originally have discarded the idea of program housing.
“I applied for an open bid because I was nervous about not being with my friends who had gotten into program housing,” said Olivia Mason ’15, who applied with an open bid to two program houses, but ultimately decided to go into GRS. “I was having second thoughts. Obviously GRS can be really complicated, so I was nervous that I would get a bad number and regret not doing program housing.”
One particularly notable house to offer open bids was The Bayit, which last year had 64 applicants; it was the most selective program house. However, before the open bid process began this year, The Bayit had eight remaining spaces.
“We did fill the remaining spaces during the open bid process,” said Gideon Levy ’13, the House Manager of The Bayit. “There was a lot of interest for that; we actually had to turn down a few people.”
Levy explained that it is difficult to account for the initial dip in interest, but guessed that, in the case of The Bayit, it might just be a combination of bad timing and bad luck.
“There’s usually a pre-orientation Jewish camping trip, but that didn’t go so well this year [because of Hurricane Irene],” Levy said. “The Jewish holidays also came at different times this year, so people were usually home, as opposed to last year, when they would stay and visit The Bayit.”
Daniel LaBonte, Area Coordinator of Program Houses, noted that any increase or decrease in interest in program houses often relate to the campus climate at the time, and the composition of each class.
“We always have a changing community here at Wesleyan,” LaBonte said. “There is some trending data, but each year is very different for each house. There’s sort of an ebb and flow.”
Until this year’s increase in housing options in The Butterfields, program housing was the go-to alternative to GRS, especially for rising sophomores. For the 2012-2013 academic year, however, 12 groups of six sophomores will be living in either Copenhagens or six-person clusters.
A Copenhagen is a living option that fits six individuals. They are situated in corners in the Butts, and consist of four singles and one double; there are six scattered throughout the Butts. A six-person cluster, on the other hand, is in the middle of a hallway. These options allow underclassmen the unique option of grouping themselves much like rising seniors and juniors do.
“My current (and now future) hall mates and I have grown really close this year, and we just figured we’d rather stick together in The Butts than get randomly spread out over campus,” said Henry Sikes ’15, who, along with his hall mates, applied for and successfully secured a six-person cluster. “To a certain extent, we wanted to stay in the Butts to be around both sophomores and freshmen.”
The professional staff at ResLife emphasized that there is no reason to believe that the number of houses offering open bids were the result of an increase in alternative housing options for sophomores in The Butterfields: the two are “ying and yang,” according to LaBonte.
LaBonte also mentioned that the numbers of applications for program housing this year remained consistent with past years. Stacey Phelps, Assistant Director of the Office of Residential Life, agreed with this analysis.
“I don’t think [Copenhagens] had an affect [on the number of applications to program houses], but I think students thought about what it meant to try for either housing option,” Phelps said. “Copenhagens and Six-Person Clusters [are] a way for you to definitely live with your friends, and I think that was attractive to a lot of students.”
Both program housing and clusters offer a way for students to avoid the anticipated mayhem of GRS, something that Jasmine Masand ’15, who will live in a Copenhagen next year, cited as an incentive.
“It makes room selection a lot simpler in terms of avoiding GRS and crazy room selection nights,” Masand said. “Groups who applied for [Copenhagens] had their own numbering system with priority according to those with point boosts, so it works just like a more specific GRS.”
Evan Thorne ’15, who will also be living in a six-person cluster next year, explained that, because so many members of the Class of 2015 will have point boosts going into GRS due to the increased number of triples this year, he and his friends thought it was best to avoid ending up at the bottom of the pile with a low GRS number.
“All of my friends were in doubles, and we knew that with all the people with point boosts, we’d have a very hard time all getting into Hewitt,” Thorne said. “Since we wanted to be together, and realized we wanted to be together and live in The Butts, the Copenhagen was a great opportunity.”
With an increase in housing choices comes an increase in opportunities to strategize, something that many students consider as they evaluate their options for the year to come. Ultimately, however, the decision comes down to a combination of personal preference and luck of the draw. Thankfully, no student is ever left without housing.