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U. claims error in room draw process, provides compensation to affected students

Photo Credit: Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian

Upperclass room draw processes were not completely randomized this year, according to an email sent to the dorm-undergrads listserv by Director of Housing Dorian Johnson. Johnson wrote that $1,000 would be deducted from the 2019–20 housing fees of rising seniors directly affected by the issue and in the lower half of their class’s draw.

Johnson explained in the email that a student notified the Department of Housing and Real Estate Services on April 8 that there were “similarities between the selection orders of the 2018 and 2019 upperclass draws.” The department is working with CBORD, a company which provides software to manage the room selection process and its randomization, to identify the cause of the issue.


Johnson said in an email statement to The Daily Princetonian that the logistics of how the compensation-eligible students would receive the $1,000-deduction are still being finalized.

“The University is committed to all compensation-eligible students, regardless of aid level, receiving the full benefit of the indicated amount,” he said.

In the email, Johnson said that Housing consulted the USG executive committee and members of ODUS in reaching the decision to offer affected students financial compensation, rather than the option of re-drawing.

In an email statement, USG president Zarnab Virk ’20 said that Housing contacted and met with the executive committee on Tuesday, April 23, in order to get students’ perspectives on the issue.

“They ran through several options with us, and given the time constraints, the number of people that had already chosen rooms and meal plans for the year, and the feasibility of achieving a truly fair and randomized draw schedule, we agreed that redoing the draw would not be feasible,” she said in the statement.

Virk wrote that the committee negotiated an appropriate compensation for affected students and emphasized the importance of having a fair draw going forward. The executive committee will continue to work with Housing as “they seek to resolve the issue for next year.”


In the email statement, Johnson also said that previous room draws would not have been affected because this is the second year Housing has used the housing management system that provided the randomization algorithm.

According to the email, the approximately 220 students affected by the issue are all rising seniors.

“Overall, their draw times are improved from last year because of their seniority on campus,” Johnson wrote in the email to undergraduates. “However, their order among the other rising seniors does not appear to be random when compared with last year’s draw times.”

Johnson wrote that students in the same upperclass room draw group this year as they were in last year were more likely to have drawn times in the same order as last year.

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Concluding the message, Johnson wrote that Housing regrets not having delivered a definitively random draw and will continue to work to understand the issue and ensure it is resolved before next year.

One rising senior said she received the email notifying her she was affected by the non-randomization of room draw because she was in the lower half of the senior class draw group.

“I had honestly had my suspicions about the lack of randomization in various respects,” she said.

The room draw list has been changed to remove independents. According to the rising senior, this step changed which students are considered to be in the “bottom half” and thus eligible to receive compensation.