Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: You and your four friends are trying to get a suite in Taplin, but it only has four rooms. Perhaps your group will have to draw straws. Maybe you’ll all just decide whom to kick out based on messiness, sleep schedules or high volume of sex. The room draw process is stressful, messy and ruinous to friendships. It’s rumored that room draw keeps the Counseling Center in business. In short, it is a commonly held belief that room draw destroys friendships and should be avoided at all costs for the sake of your mental and physical well-being.
Students on this campus hate room draw. If you are not miraculously in the minority of students who are Resident Counselors, theme house residents or outgoing seniors, you will have to suffer through. Sooner or later next week (hopefully sooner), you’ll run to the Friedmann Room at your designated time, wait, nervously eat candy, wait, maybe cry a little bit, pick a room you’re generally unhappy with and call it a night. But, even after going through this horrendous experience and complaining about all that’s wrong with it, it’s surprisingly difficult to pinpoint how Residential Life could improve the process.
Despite our grumblings, room draw is actually a fair process. Student groups are ranked first by seniority using LUV (Living Unit Values), then randomly among groups with the same LUVs. Frustratingly, there are some rising sophomore groups that bring in juniors going abroad in the fall to raise this score. Yet, by making sure students who declare intent to study abroad in fall can’t participate, we could easily eliminate this problem. The underlying structure works similarly to every other comparable college; room draw everywhere, to put it bluntly, just sucks.
But room draw is inherently necessary. We need a place to sleep in between classes, constant activities and Val sits. Within that truth, however, is exactly why the annual process is so painful. We invest time, effort and ourselves into the ratty posters, bed sheets and stuffed animals that make up “homes.” That’s why students agonize over where they live and who they live with: It’s supposed to be perfect.
Yet, the group-based procedure forces us to choose friends and have friends choose us. Definitively picking a room based on both our own and other peoples’ preferences forces us to compromise on something we see as defining our identity for the next year. Unless you’re at the top of the senior list alone, you’ll never get exactly what you want. So how can we change room draw? Yes, it’s flawed and inefficient, but the core process of choosing a room is inherently fair and hard to change. Instead, the answer lies in a cultural shift. It’s time to let go of all the preconceived notions we have about housing and what has to be perfect for the next year. We should realize it’s only one year.