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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

With precarious housing, students find aid from strangers

Published: March 23, 2007
Section: Opinions

Elyssa Kanet 08 was in despair when she recieved her housing number in the mail. Number 2,156, printed clearly on her Residence Life form. First I laughed it off, she said, but then I realized it was actually a problem. It came down to a week before housing decisions and I still hadnt made any plans. The situation was similar for Jeremy Heyman, 08. I was number 2,146, so I wasnt getting any housing. My friends were all getting awful numbers as well.

Ordinarily, without a lucky roomate or someone with a higher number to perform a pull in, students in these cases cannot find housing on campus. But, determined to do everything they could, Elyssa and Jeremy showed up toward the beginning of the lottery selections anyway, empty handed but hoping for kindness from random strangers.

The road was anything but straight. We went to rooming…it turned out that there were like five or six of us in a group. We tried to get anyones attention that we could. At first there was some tension…people were going outside the doors so that they could try to nab people not using their pull-ins before the others. Then we organized ourselves, letting the worst numbers go first, Kanet recalls.

One of the people also competing was Miriam Nachum, 10. You just start talking to people, like hi, how are you? I already had my paper ready in case someone said yes. I pretty much asked everyone who walked in to please pull me in,? added Jeremy. I would say Ive been here since 11, please pull me in.

Amazingly, all six found success, and some got more than they could have hoped for. After I got pulled in I found out that my next door neighbors were my best friends! exclaimed Nachum. I got everything I wanted…I had been getting pretty nervous. When I finally got the pull-in I kind of took charge, which was obnoxious, but whatever.

I was confident that we would find someone, stated Jeremy. Wed heard of other people doing this before us. In the end, we ended up getting pulled in by this nice random girl.

The story was more adventurous for Kanet. I did a lot of running back and forth…a lot of running. At one point my friend called and said she needed one more, and then at the last moment it fell through.

Another time, I got this girl to sign a pull in form for me and my friend and then at the last minutes, two of her friends that she knew wanted her to pull them in and she chose them over us. In the end, she ended up being pulled by a stranger, rather than the friend that she thought was pulling her in. I thought that, finally, I had found a friend who was signing a pull in form for me. Then I found out the friend was a proxy for someone else. So basically, I dont know half of the people that Im going to be living with next year.

The Hoot has stated before that the Lottery system for housing needs a drastic overhaul. Maybe one day, students like Jeremy, Elyssa and Miriam wont be forced into such precarious situations just to find a nice place to live on campus.