Residence Life changes housing fair to lottery-based system


Franciscan University Residence Life is changing its housing process for students living in the Upper Campus dorms to lottery style from the previous first-come-first-served system.

Students received an email March 15 from housing specialist Allison Peleskey explaining the new system and detailing the plans to create a lottery system through which each student in the dorms who is assigned to household beds is given a random number and a time to arrive at the fair April 15. The students will arrive at the fair in numerical order and select where they want to live next fall.

Catherine Heck, assistant vice president of Student Life, said this system will eliminate the need for a long line of students before the fair starts hoping to get the dorm and room they wanted.

Under the old system, many students camped out in line all day outside of the J.C. Williams Center, missing meals, classes and sleep in order to get into the dorm they wanted, a practice that was highly discouraged by Heck and the staff at Student Life.

“We tried a variety of ways to manage that line,” said Heck. “We tried giving tickets and having people come back. …We had rules saying you can’t line up at a certain time and had security sending people away, which was funny because they didn’t leave. They circled the area. We tried different things and it just didn’t work.”

There were also complaints from students about other students cutting in line when the fair started after those at the front had waited many hours to get a good spot, said Heck.

Sophomore Cristina Palacios-Gomez experienced this last year. Although she got into the hall that she wanted, she said that it was an annoyance.

“It was frustrating in that sense that if you were there in the morning and waited, once the fair started, people swarmed and you didn’t get to keep your spot,” she said.

When the spring semester started, Heck led two focus groups that were open to all students and that discussed the issues with the current housing system. Heck said that with the exception of a small handful of people, attendees were eager to try a new system.

Heck also met and exchanged ideas with Student Government and Household Council, two leadership groups on campus.

Peleskey said, “I think that just in the last few years with the line-cutting and all that, some of the students got really discouraged with waiting in line. That was probably a key reason why they wanted to change that.”

Heck said that students wanting a specific roommate will have to attend the housing fair at the time for the roommate with the lowest lottery number. Each student will be called in numerical order in the Gentile Gallery where the fair is taking place to pick what hall, floor and bed that he or she wants, she said.

Heck said, “This way, no one should have to miss class, no one should have to wait a full day, no one should have to stand in line. We did do focus groups. We did investigation based on student frustration with the old system, and we really hope that this will serve the student body more effectively.”

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