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It’s almost that time of the year again: Room Draw. A time when anxiety rings across campus and students agonize over a Google spreadsheet. For the 2017-2018 academic year, Room Draw will take place in McKenna Auditorium April 11-13.

Six new changes to the process were introduced by DOS and the ASCMC Dormitory Affairs Council, composed of dormitory presidents and overseen by the Dormitory Affairs Chair Daniel Ludlam ‘18. Here’s the breakdown:

Submit a request by Friday, March 10, if you want substance-free housing.

To draw into a room in Stark Hall, students must submit a request by Friday, March 10. From there, they will complete a substance-free contract. The room draw process looks the same, but only students who have indicated an interest and have submitted the contract will have the option to choose a room in Stark.

This policy was in response to students’ concerns last spring when a number of students who wanted sub-free housing but couldn’t get it petitioned for more sub-free housing. According to Jamie Kammerman, Interim Director of Residential Life, the new process for sub-free housing holds promise as the numbers so far look as if needs will be met. In the event that the response rate exceeds the number of beds available, DOS has a back-up plan to accommodate students. “The next step to expand [substance-free] housing is to supplement Stark with a floor or two, depending on the need, in an adjacent building…most likely one of the towers,” said Dean of Students Sharon Basso.

You cannot retain North Quad pods.

Last year was the first year that students could retain rooms in North Quad pods. In practice, students weren’t retaining their rooms because of the gender rotation for pods. Both DAC and DOS agreed that the retention policy didn’t make sense. “Room retention is like getting first pick, and if that is applied in the pods, that’s not fair. Students won’t be retaining the exact room,” said Ludlam.

Though there was discussion about doing away with retention as a whole, the committee decided that it would be too drastic of a change. “That is a direction that needs more discussion among the student body because it seems to have strong opinions on both sides,” said Kammerman. “We weren’t in a position this year to make a change on that, but it is definitely under review.”

Find a roommate (if you want to live in a double).

Students without a roommate can no longer draw into a double. DAC found that by allowing students to draw into half-open doubles, dorms were prematurely filled up. This limited those looking for a full double, especially with the freshman quota (20-25% freshmen in each dorm). For DOS, this created an occupancy problem when trying to accommodate returning students or transfer students into half-open doubles.

Students interested in a double must find a roommate, or be put on a waitlist of which residential life staff will have the discretion to pair them up with a roommate. “People tried to game the system, and this policy closes that loophole,” said Ludlam.

Live next to your friends in Auen and Claremont Hall.

Following the North Quad suite style of living, students now have the ability to draw into two neighboring double rooms in Auen Hall and Claremont Hall.

DAC and DOS realize the lack of options for block housing, as senior apartments and North Quad suites quickly fill up with upperclassmen. Block housing, therefore, was extended to Auen Hall and and Claremont Hall to provide an opportunity for friend groups to live near each other and for more class diversity in Mid Quad and South Quad dorms. Depending on this year’s response, the policy could be expanded to other Mid Quad and South Quad dorms and to neighboring single rooms.

“It could certainly bring in some opportunities to shift culture a little bit in those buildings,” said Kammerman. “If there are people who want to spend their time together [in the hall], it gives an opportunity for the RA to support and build that [community].”

There are more resident assistants (RAs), and they can pull you into a single next to them.

Three new RAs were added this year, giving Beckett, Marks, and Stark two RAs each. Additionally, all RAs can pull in a buddy into a neighboring single. “It was a policy of equality,” said Ludlam. “North Quad and senior apartment RAs can pull in their friends to the half-suite or in the apartments, but Mid Quad and South Quad RAs can’t — that seems unfair.”

In terms of staffing, DOS found that CMC’s resident to RA ratio (close to 90:1 in some dorms) was too high, especially for a private liberal arts residential college. Dean Basso said that hiring more RA staff would “make the RA role more manageable” and increase the community’s access to RAs.

Marks Hall first floor is gender-inclusive.

The first floor of Marks Hall is now gender-inclusive.

DAC and DOS had two main reasons for this change. First, there was feedback that more students were supportive of and find value in gender-inclusive housing. The second reason was that Marks Hall already had an inequitable gender proportion: two floors for males, and one for females. Last year’s exit survey indicated that more females wanted to live in Marks than males, so it was a matter of “supply and demand,” according to Ludlam.

Both DAC and DOS feel confident that the new changes will accommodate the needs of the students. Ludlam said, “There was no shortage of communication from students regarding these changes, whether it was one-on-one conversations with students and DOS or discussions in Senate.” Changes were voted on by Senate with nearly 85 percent approval rates in early January.

Moving forward, DOS is looking into ways to modernize Room Draw, such as interest-based housing and automatic housing software. They promise that these changes will take place gradually and in accordance with both college policy and the students’ ideas, suggestions, and requests. “There’s a whole horizon out there that we want to explore in the future…but it’s a very student feedback-looped process,” said Dean Basso. “We strongly seek and listen to what students have to say about their residential experience.”

The Forum will work collaboratively with DOS to host official guides for room selection and availability on the week of Room Draw.