Section: Opinion

Playing the lottery: may the odds ever be in your Farr-vor?

Julie France, Features Editor

Often compared to The Hunger Games, the Housing Lottery is known to be a terrifying experience in which the odds are usually not in your favor. Yet for me, the anxiety takes place much before the one Saturday that defines whether you will go to your P.O. Box three times a year or live in a basement with no light.

The real game starts every February when students start anticipating their housing situation for next year, and by March this turns into panic. Friends break promises of rooming with each other, one friend is always left out and then there is the roommate who assumes he or she will live with his current roommate next year and is thus in for a little surprise.

But there is also the issue of preference, and that was the source of my lottery panic this year. After always getting my last choice for housing the past three years — Gund, Mather and now Old Kenyon  — I was excited for the prospect of living in a woodsy Taft Apartment. Yet almost all of my friends wanted to live in NCAs next year. I found that to be understandable, considering they are brand new, spacious and just stunning. However, my preferences differed from my friends because convenience was key to me; I wanted to have the apartment experience with friends, too, but live in a hip-looking cottage. Not much to ask when you have suffered Gund, Mather and Old Kenyon, right?

Finding two other friends to live with was not a problem. But searching for a fourth apartment mate was like a quest for the Holy Grail. Every time my two future apartment mates and I thought we finally found our fourth apartment mate, our hopes vanished. One of my future apartment mates, a daughter of a professor, even had her dad ask his students if they needed people to live with. The three of us reached out to everyone we knew abroad, sent allstus, posted on Facebook and humiliated ourselves by asking strangers in Peirce to live with us. We could not believe our lack of luck. Who wouldn’t want to live in a cozy little Taft?

During the struggle, I reached out to Housing and Residential Life to ask would happen if we cannot find a fourth apartment mate. They told me that I would not be able to live in a Taft.

This answer seemed unfair. Why should someone be denied their dream of living in a Taft if he or she has a good enough lottery number to do so, but just has not filled all of the spots within the space? This rule is ridiculous in that students are penalized for a) their friends preferring to live in different places than them and/or b) not having enough friends.

ResLife may be wary of allowing empty spots in housing to be filled later by people with worse numbers. Theoretically, this may lead to many cases in which strangers live together and do not get along. However, I doubt this would become a major trend due to the fact that people want to know who will live with them.  Yet in rare cases like mine, a policy allowing students to not complete an apartment would have been a saving grace.

The process seems biased in more ways than this, however. ResLife has a system for matching roommates, but it only applies to dorm doubles. Why is this any different with apartment mates?

But these issues of unjust punishment for not finding enough apartment mates is not the only thing ResLife needs to change. Many more questions come to mind about this housing process. Though I am not Greek, why do Greeks lose a lottery point when they live in Division? The loss of a lottery point makes sense for a first-year planning on living in Division. Yet losing a point when jumping from sophomore to junior or junior to senior Division housing seems ridiculous in that they could have lived in those places regardless of being Greek.

The Housing Lottery is full of rules with unfair consequences, and thus calls for a major change. Though we finally found our Holy Grail in the form of a fourth apartment mate, we now await the next question: Is our lottery number even good enough to get a Taft?

Julie France ’15 is a philosophy major and math minor from Columbus, Ohio. Her email is


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