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Students express mixed reactions to online housing lottery

Students express mixed reactions to online housing lottery

The 2019 Kenyon housing lottery will draw to a close on April 23, marking the end of the school’s first all-digital housing selection process. Despite the school’s push toward modernity, some students report that the lottery remains as frustrating as ever.

“It’s horrible. Everything’s taken,” Catherine Gonzalez ’22 said, scrolling through housing options on a laptop. “We didn’t have this kind of stress [coming into Kenyon]. Everything was just given to us.”

Bridget Molnar ’22 also finds the lottery stressful, but feels that the online system adds some sense of control. “I like that we can compare the rooms to a list online, and look at the dimensions,” she said. “It gives me some solace.”

The new system is powered by a website called Residence. Earlier in the month, the Office of Residential Life sent email contained a 10-page document explaining how to use the website, as well as a phone number students could call for assistance. Using Residence, students can search for rooms, make lists of favorites and form housing groups with friends.

Kenyon’s pre-housing options — which include theme housing, substance-free housing and medical and religious accommodations — do not use Residence, and are still done via an application process. This becomes especially important as the number of students using pre-housing options increases. This year, nearly a third of Kenyon students opted out of the lottery process; this was due in part to an extension of the substance-free housing program.

“We expanded it this year to include both market apartments, and then the ninth and eighth floor of Caples,” Train said. “We were able to fill them all, which, to be honest, surprised me. We actually had a waitlist; we had more people than what we had spaces for.”

Train expects that in the future, the housing lottery website will include options for accessibility and substance-free housing, among others. “Since this was our first time doing it, we wanted to make sure we didn’t spread ourselves too thin trying to do too much right away,” Train said. “Next year we’re hoping to incorporate the pre-housing into the online process.”

Despite the novelty of the new system, many students find it easier to navigate. Dani Martinez ’21 prefers the online lottery, but wishes it had come with a more comprehensive guide. “They just kind of sent us a PDF, like ‘Here you go,’” Martinez said. “There wasn’t enough information. But it was pretty user-friendly, once you got into it.”

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