Rising seniors must now follow a new General Room Selection (GRS) policy that prevents them from splitting and merging groups when choosing housing for the upcoming year as long as there are enough prospective units available for their group size.

The premise of lottery selection will remain the same; based on the number of people in the group, rankings will be randomly assigned, with priority given to students who, as rising juniors, were members of four- or two-person groups who did not have a high enough rank to get a LoRise or HiRise apartment.

However, whereas rising seniors previously had to worry about groups with better ranks potentially splitting and merging, altering the overall ranking of successive groups, students now need only be concerned with the number of groups ahead of them that are of the same size. If there is an insufficient number of units available in a particular group size, the excess groups will be forced to reconfigure, as is the case this year with some three-person groups.

According to Director of Residential Life (ResLife) Fran Koerting, splitting and merging have been particular concerns of students and ResLife for several years; the new policy is a step towards the implementation of a potentially more simplified online GRS process.

“We’re hoping to go to an online selection system next year, and we haven’t done it yet because our housing stock is so diverse that any of the programs that are out there don’t work very well for our housing stock,” Koerting said. “The on-campus ITS [Information Technology Services] thinks they can write something for us.”

ResLife chose to include only members of the class of 2014 in this year’s change in part because rising seniors are the ones who are most affected by the constant flux of groups separating and combining.

“This will give us a chance to see how we might be able to adapt our system to a computer system that is not going to have the flexibility that we have right now,” Koerting said. “By doing this with the rising seniors, it gives [ResLife] the chance to see how we can try to make [splitting and merging groups work] when we go to an online system.”

Because rising sophomores enter the lottery in groups of either one or two, and groups of two often split depending on their lottery pick, ResLife staff members could not find a simple resolution when prioritizing how rooms are chosen for these students. Members of the junior class  also have more limited options, typically choosing between a LoRise and a HiRise, whereas seniors tend to pick depending on the varying sizes, locations, and other features of different woodframe houses.

“We couldn’t find a good solution that worked out for everybody with the sophomores,” Koerting said. “[Juniors] are not causing a problem for other groups behind them because they are not reconfiguring their groups [as much]. So [we decided] to just look at the seniors.”

ResLife sought the best possible compromise for a fair solution between what would be most practical and manageable for administrators and what would address student concerns and wishes.

“[The new policy] is based on feedback we have received from students over the past few years,” Assistant Director of ResLife Stacey Phelps wrote in an email to The Argus. “They have shared with us that the ability to have groups split and merge so early in the process creates a lot of stress and planning issues. We feel this change will allow students to plan better and hopefully relieve the stress rising seniors have felt in the past.”

ResLife also communicated with the Undergraduate Residential Life Committee, made up of seven students and four administrators, when deciding what would be the best course of action for addressing the GRS process for this upcoming school year.

“We had three different meetings at which we discussed this, and we talked about all different angles of it,” Koerting said. “There was a lot of student input that went into it to talk about what are the pros and cons of all different things, and at the end of it, based on the feedback we got, I made the decision that, yes, this is the right thing to do.”

After going through the GRS process twice, Ravy Uong ’13 thinks that the new splitting and merging policy will bring more clarity to the process and peace of mind to participants.

“GRS for junior year was crazy because we got the very last LoRise, but senior housing is definitely the most stressful because there are so many more options, so if your group has a so-so number, it can be a toss-up,” Uong said. “Taking away the ability to split and merge would definitely simplify GRS, and it would make the whole process more streamlined and less stressful.”

After acting as a Residential Advisor for his sophomore and junior years, Oscar Takabvirwa ’14 is going through GRS for the first time as a rising senior.

“The [current GRS system] is really complicated compared to something like joining a program house that’s extremely simple—you say why you want to do it, and you either get accepted or rejected,” Takabvirwa said. “GRS is this concept of lotteries, winning things, and picks, and the process itself seems to be really fair, but it is just really involving with so many stages. I think it’s too much.”

Takabvirwa thinks that a lot of the stress and confusion frequently associated with room selection can be alleviated through a more thorough distribution of information related to the process. For those not well informed about how the procedure works, GRS can be overwhelming and complex.

“Having more interesting and informative workshops would be extremely helpful,” Takabvirwa said. “If they are boring, people don’t end up going to them, and then they don’t know what to do when the time to participate in GRS rolls around. Also, more specific how-to’s and information about housing picks would be really useful.”

ResLife hopes that the new policy will work well for students so that the GRS process is less of a hassle.

“Every year, we try and find ways to improve GRS and next year we are hoping to roll out an online selection system,” Phelps wrote. “This is something we know students want and we are working hard to move towards an online system. We will be taking notes and evaluating how these new changes work to see if we should be incorporating them in the new system.”

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