New Draw System Leads to Changes in Dorm Class Mix

The implementation of the tier lottery system for housing assignments, which replaced the former priority draw system, substantially changed the way students are assigned to housing. The new draw structure has caused the class mix of dorms across campus to change, with more freshmen in Stern and Wilbur, sophomores in Toyon and Crothers, and seniors in the lower-row houses.

According to Nipun Kant ’10, who is living in Bob for a second consecutive year, the house has gone from being almost completely divided between sophomores and seniors last year to 80% seniors this year, with no sophomores. Kant adds, “The shift towards a more senior-dominated row has significant implications for the social life of its houses.” Among these implications are, according to Kant, that seniors, already having their social groups, have fewer reasons to get to know other dorm residents.

In 2008, the cutoff number for a group of four men at Bob was 211, with the number rising to 263 in 2009. Since sophomores are not allowed to draw tier 1, they are excluded from most lower-row houses, which require a draw number below 1,000. The 2009 cutoff number for a group four men for other lower row houses were 354 for Xanadu, 514 for Mars, 143 for Casa Italiana, 712 for Storey and 2,170 for the co-op Columbae.

Xanadu resident Justin Costa-Roberts ’11 wishes his house’s class composition was not dominated by seniors. “Had I known how lopsided the junior-senior ratio would be, I would have thought twice about using my tier one this year. It just makes for an odd, fragmented social scene.” Costa-Roberts estimates that only five of Xanadu’s approximately 60 residents are juniors.

Looking forward, Director of Housing Assignments Susan Nunan predicts that these changes will continue. “The mix of class will probably change this year as students have the opportunity to choose both room type and location and also as the transition from preferred to tiered level takes place,” she stated.

Executive Director of Housing Rodger Whitney claims that most houses still have students from various classes. “Providing more housing locations with premier spaces has actually spread students out among more types of housing creating more opportunities for students at various class levels to mix.” He added that the Draw Task Force did not want to limit students’ options any more than absolutely necessary by “prescribing class level as criteria for housing.”

With their exclusion from much of the row, sophomores have flocked to Crothers and Toyon. According to Crothers’ resident Chamal Samarayanake ’12, about 80% of his dorm belongs to the sophomore class.

The all-sophomore Toyon was widely popular in last year’s draw, with a cutoff number of 1,254 for a group of four men and 1,229 for a group of four women. David Chung ’12 stated that he likes Toyon because the dorm’s “energy and social life remind him of his all-freshmen dorm Larkin.”

Despite Toyon’s popularity, Nunan stated that at this time, there are no plans to expand the number of all-sophomore and all-freshmen dorms.

In contrast, other sophomores prefer to live in multi-class dorms. Devin Lu ’12, who lives in Florence Moore Hall’s Paloma, says he likes his dorm’s class mix, which is made up of mostly juniors. Sarah Stiltner ’12, who lives in the upper-row house Narnia, stated, “I like living in a multi-class house, it’s fun.” Parts of the upper row still have some sophomore presence. Stiltner estimates that about half of her house’s residents are sophomores, with most of the rest being seniors.

Other students do not notice significant changes to the class composition of campus dorms. According to Kimball staff member Lewis Hom ’10, who lived in the same dorm the previous year, the changes in his dorm were “within the realm of normal dorm fluctuations.”

The new housing plan has also led to approximately two thirds of freshmen living in Wilbur and Stern this year. Whitney stated, “This was done as a result of the implementation of the master plan and at the request of the Draw Task Force, other departments on campus, and requests from freshmen.” Nunan adds that while the number of four class dorms has decreased, “there still are many three class houses.”

Despite the changes in class mixes across dorms and houses on campus, Whitney is satisfied with the new housing assignment system. “These changes,” Whitney said, “have been very positively received by students as shown by a decrease in the number of reassignment requests and increase in our survey results.”

Subscribe to the Stanford Review