How Fair is the Lottery System of Housing Selection?

By DAHLIA DEHAAN // APRIL 13, 2016 //

Curry College, a school with relatively poor academic outcomes as well as a poor retention rate, uses a system for student housing that does not reward academic achievement nor encourages student involvement and leadership on campus.

At Curry College housing selection is an event, which students must attend in person. Curry uses a completely random lottery system when determining which students get to pick their dorms first. The lower your number, the better room you will get.

In determining the order in which students select on-campus housing, some colleges factor in grade point averages as well as extracurricular involvement and leadership roles on campus, said Jennifer Maitino, director of Residence Life and Housing at Curry College. Other schools penalize students for violating the code of conduct. However, “I have yet to encounter a perfect system,” said Maitino.

Maitino explained that Curry College has no immediate plans to change the housing selection process, because Residence Life and Housing has not heard feedback from students who want to see changes. If an on-campus group such as Student Government Association (SGA) were to propose a specific change to the housing selection process, “we would certainly be open to exploring options,” Maitino stated.

In the lottery system of housing selection at Curry College, a student’s GPA or campus involvement have no impact on what rank lottery number a student is assigned. Sophomore Communication major Molly Fanikos believes housing selection should take GPA into account.

“I don’t think it is fair that kids who work [extremely hard] to get good grades could end up in worse housing than those who don’t care and party all the time,” Fanikos said. “If people want to live in a nicer dorm, they should have to work for it.”

Freshman Psychology major Dayna Smith has a different opinion. “Just because someone is smarter and gets better grades doesn’t mean they deserve better housing. Random is the most fair way,” she said.

Smith was one of the Curry students who voted in a Twitter poll that asked Curry College students, “Is the lottery system of housing selection fair?” The results: 59% answered “Yes; random is fair” while the remaining 41% said “No; [housing selection should] consider GPA, credits.”

Sophomore Communication major Jimmy Bonneau considers the lottery system of housing selection fair because everyone has an equal chance of getting the first lottery number.

Bonneau believes it would be unfair if housing selection was done according to GPA, because some classes and some majors are more challenging than others. That would benefit students who take low-level classes and get high, unweighted grades, in comparison to students who challenge themselves academically by taking more difficult courses, which require a lot more work and dedication.

Freshman Information Technology major Max Bramble feels as though the lottery system of housing selection is not particularly fair because the incoming freshman class of 2020 will be placed into better dorms than the current students (rising seniors, juniors and sophomores), which will not make underclassmen want to stay at Curry after the first year.

Bramble noted that this preference to freshmen over current students could easily affect the retention rate, which is already considered low. The college’s retention rate — the percent of first-year students who return for a second year — has been around 70 percent for many years now. The administration is currently working to improve that rate, but as Maitino of Residence Life noted, housing selection isn’t yet part of the discussion.

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2 replies »

  1. Why SHOULDN’T people who work harder get a bigger reward? That’s how the world works, or at least how it should work. You reap what you sow.

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