USG x Housing: how students helped enact change to 2020 room draw| March 12, 2020
In the spring of 2019, students found similarities between the 2018 and 2019 room draw times, uncovering randomization errors in the University room draw process. An article published in the ‘Prince’ on March 3 addressed these issues, citing students’ “concerns about the draw,” but failed to acknowledge the changes that are effective starting this year. In reality, since the ad hoc data analysis, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) has worked extensively in conjunction with Student Housing to fix randomization and improve Room Draw for 2020.
In the spring of 2019, USG passed a resolution approving the USG Committee on Student Housing with the purpose of “ensuring an informative, transparent, and accessible response to student concerns,” after investigating “the root causes of draw fairness and communication difficulties in the 2018 and 2019 Room Draws”.
I currently serve as Chair of the USG Committee on Student Housing, along with Betsy Pu ‘22, Yafah Edelman ‘20, Lachlan McCarty ‘22, and Alec Leng ‘21. Since September, we have advocated to improve the student experience with Room Draw and Housing. In a series of four technical meetings we collaborated with Housing administrators such as Dorian Johnson, Dennis Daly, Lynn Grant, Joe Johnson, Michelle Brown, and Angie Rooney to investigate 2019 Room Draw and provided student input to improve the Room Draw experience. None of us were reached out to during the reporting of the March 3rd article.
Our “belief” that this year’s room draw process “will run smoothly” isn’t based on pure optimism, but rather the culmination of several months of work and advocacy.
In the fall, Housing extensively tested the randomization of various groups in the new in-house system and with the latest update of CBORD, Housing found the randomization issue to have been fixed. We compiled our findings in a report released to all undergraduates through the USG Senate newsletter on Feb. 16.
In addition to fixing randomization, further changes will be reflected in the 2020 Room Draw:
- The timer to complete the specific room selection (5 minutes in 2018, 8 minutes in 2019) will be extended to 10+ minutes.
- A full list of available rooms will be on the website.
- A confirmation email of selected room assignment and meal plan will be sent at the conclusion of each day of room draw.
- Information about the waitlist process (timing, further steps, for both upperclassmen and residential college room draw) will be released.
- There will be extended time between room draw groups.
Earlier in February, Housing’s Instagram (@princeton_studenthousing) hosted a Q&A for students to easily submit questions about room draw, utilizing social media for communication outreach. A comprehensive Room Draw guide for all class years can be found here, and students with further questions can ask their Housing engagement specialists or attend lunch sessions at the residential colleges hosted by Michelle Brown.
When room draw times are released on March 18, our Committee members will be working through Spring Break by running a statistical analysis to ensure the randomization of 2020 Room Draw. Once our analysis is completed, we will be releasing the results through a USG email to all undergraduates.
Our efforts show that student voices can have significant impacts on the development of housing policy at the University. I urge students who have lingering concerns to voice them to myself and other members of the Undergraduate Housing Advisory Board (formerly named Students’ Housing Advisory Group).
UHAB meets monthly and is a space where students can speak with Housing administrators and provide valuable feedback on campus issues relating to student life, housing, and facilities, such as co-ops, pest concerns, policies, processes and more. This is my second year serving on UHAB. Before each meeting, I request questions from students through an Instagram poll on @ucouncilee, and post meeting minutes on the account after.
Change can be enacted by proactive outreach. Your feedback is valuable and can lead to tangible results. UHAB is accepting applications, and I encourage you to apply! All students who currently live on campus or have lived on campus in the past can provide a unique perspective that will assist Housing policy. Furthermore, I urge you to reach out to your student representatives and your Housing engagement specialists for your concerns to be heard. Only by voicing our experiences can we as students truly create a community that works for us.
Sarah Lee is a sophomore from Adams, Tennessee. She can be reached at email@example.com.