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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Students claim inconsistencies in housing process

Published: March 9, 2007
Section: News

Several students faced problems with the housing lottery this year. Some students say that they registered to participate in the housing selection process but were not assigned lottery numbers, others claim that they did not sign up to participate but received numbers, and a few received incorrect numbers.

Students were required to indicate their intent to participate in the housing selection process by checking a box in SAGE by January 31. The computer system generates lottery numbers for every student, but numbers are only released to students who signed up to participate in the housing lottery process.

There are a number of students who say they checked the box and did not get a number, but SAGE is the official record, said Associate Director of Residence Life Jeremy Leiferman.

Students who did not receive numbers were put on the bottom of the waiting list.
According to Leiferman, the waiting list usually has around 300 students, although the list is longer this year due to the demise of Ridgewood.

Josh Sheena 08 claims he checked the box in the SAGE but did not receive a lottery number. He explained, What happened was that I am officially registered as being abroad, though my program won't start until March 20. They told me that I would have to wait until they sent out an email with my number. That email never came, so I called them up and they told me that they didn't have it on record that I had checked the box. I know I had, as I am paranoid and I triple checked that the box had been checked.

However, Sheena did not have the printout from SAGE and therefore could not prove to ResLife that he registered to participate in the room selection process. He was put on the waiting list.

The fact that I do not have a number ruins the plans of a half dozen people, said Sheena.

Other students received numbers that were not part of the correct housing lottery. Leiferman said that a mistake was made when the list of students who registered to participate in the housing lottery was merged with the report that generates the lottery numbers for all students. To resolve this problem, ResLife simply translated the number to the correct lottery system so the student had the same number standing.

Merging of the data from the two lists is a human process and there is sometimes some confusion in the process, said Leiferman.

Etta King 10 received a number in the low 2000s. Once the rising sophomore realized she had an upperclassman number, she contacted ResLife and received 561.

ResLife was really great about getting back to me and giving me virtual and hard copies of my new number. I don't know, it wasn't really a hassle, just funny. I wish I had gotten a better number, said King.

Kara Manson 08 said she did not check the box to participate in housing because she had already found an apartment to live in with friends, but she received a letter from ResLife with an assigned lottery number.

To make sure I wouldn't be fined or anything if I didn't show up to my appointment, I called ResLife. They told me that I did not need to show up for my appointment, nor would I be fined, and they thanked me for bringing the matter to their attention, she said.

Two graduating seniors also received housing lottery numbers, including Kevin Montgomery 07. He did not check the box, but received a letter from ResLife with his assigned number, 1033. Leiferman attributed the mistake to a human error in the process of consolidating the two lists. Leiferman said, Every year there are a couple of hiccups, but we are trying to make the process as smooth as possible.

I think the school would be well advised to see how other schools do housing so they can adopt a more equitable system that doesnt continue leaving people without housing, said Montgomery, who has had numerous problems with the Brandeis housing system over the past three years. As a transfer student, he was promised housing upon acceptance but was notified by email months later that he would not receive housing. The next year, he says he checked the box on SAGE but did not receive a lottery number, and last year he received a poor number. I think its a flawed process, he said.