Room draw reform petition seeks housing transparency, improved randomization| May 1, 2019
In response to the controversy surrounding room draw randomization, a group of students created a Room Draw Reform petition with an action plan to ensure mistakes are not repeated in future room draws.
The petition requests, among other items, that the University’s Housing and Real Estate Services (HRES) take steps to improve room draw feedback, testing, transparency, auditing, and infrastructure.
The petition also asks HRES to form a joint student-faculty committee to consider the requests, produce a report detailing the errors in the 2018 and 2019 room draws, and oversee an auditing process of the software used for next year’s room draw.
As of 11 p.m. on Wednesday, the petition had 369 signatures.
Betsy Pu ’22 first organized the petition’s group of student authors. She said their motivations in creating the petition were firstly to propose a solution to ensure the randomization error was fixed, and secondly, to demonstrate the magnitude of the problem and the concern of the student body.
“There are some pretty blatant errors in the room draw randomization process, yet numerous attempts to bring this to the administration had very little impact, especially proportional to the problem,” she said.
Pu is “optimistic” that the administration will respond to the requests if students are persistent about making next year’s process “transparent and functional.”
The first section of the petition, titled “What Went Wrong,” describes HRES’ claims in their original email to undergraduates and summarizes the data analysis done by Adam Chang ’20 and Yang Song ’20.
Next, it proposes an action plan requesting steps be taken to “review what went wrong, to discuss what can be improved, and to ensure past mistakes are not repeated in the future.”
“The scope of systematic unfairness in both the 2018 and 2019 Room Draws — although inadvertent — is nevertheless extremely concerning,” the petition reads.
The students ask for an “improved HRES feedback and review pipeline,” an HRES review of their internal auditing process, and an “overhaul of the Housing Portal interface,” among other things.
They also request an investigation into the partnership between HRES and CBORD, “particularly with respect to the software specification HRES delivered to the vendor as well as the vendor’s internal testing process.”
Yafah Edelman ’20 recalled that many of the group’s members had their own frustrations with room draw in the past. She drew as a single at the end of freshman year. According to Chang and Song’s analysis, single person draw groups tended to fare significantly worse in room draw times than larger draw groups.
“I’m hopeful with the magnitude of the problem and with students really speaking out that the administration will see the steps that we propose to take in the petition and do something,” she said.