With the end of the interhouse selection period last Friday, many students are breathing a sigh of a relief as they finish up the task of picking a dorm for the next academic year.
Others, however, are still searching on for housing.
Friday marked the first run-through of Penn’s new housing-selection system, which was announced in October.
Students have offered two main critiques of the new system since its formal launch this semester.
The first is in response to the new points system, which awards housing points based on factors such as the number of semesters spent in the house, as well as involvement with a group or residential program in the house. If students apply for housing in a group, the points are then averaged between the members of the group.
The average number of points per student is then used to assign each group to a specific tier. Tiers are, in turn, used to assign randomized selection times in a housing lottery.
However, the system Residential Services uses does not allow for decimals, which has caused some students with fewer overall points to receive an earlier time than students with more points.
College sophomore Meryl Arnold’s group faced this issue when selecting its room during the in-house process this year.
“We had six points for four people, but there were some groups that had less overall points than we did and they went before us in choosing a room,” she said. “We’re not so upset that we didn’t get the room we wanted, just the fact that the system seems unfair.”
Lenny Zeiger, associate director for Housing Assignments, said the software Penn used this year was not able support decimals in the tiered assignments.
“By the time we found out, it wasn’t something we could change,” he said.
Residential Services did attempt to mitigate this problem by altering its point-assigning policies, but this was not implemented in time for the in-house selection process.
“It’s not what we wanted either, [and] it’s something that 100 percent will be fixed next year,” Zeiger said.
The other component that has drawn criticism from students has been the timing of priority selection.
“We were given a time of 3:30 p.m., and I had three back-to-back meetings and I didn’t have my laptop with me,” College junior Beverly Aiyanyor said. “Because of that, by the time I checked, the two-bedroom doubles were all taken.”
College freshman Emma Biegacki also experienced problems because of her priority-selection time.
Her selection slot was on March 15 at 4:15 p.m. — the last day of priority selection — and when she logged in through My Home at Penn, no rooms were available.
Ultimately, Biegacki and her group were able to find rooms in the Quad.
Still, though, “we felt that the time slot was either your golden ticket or a death sentence,” she said.
Despite these critiques, others found no real problems with the housing system.
“I was very pleased with my housing,” College junior Chevon Boone said. “I like it in that we don’t have to be in a physical location [to select a room]. I was able to do it electronically.”
“There may have been overall one student out of the 820 who didn’t get the system,” Harrison College House Dean Frank Pellicone said. “We’ve got really no one complaining. I’d say it was better than I had expected.”
Residential Services will continue to gather student feedback as it plans to make changes for next year.
“Overall, I think for a first time it went extremely well,” said Martin Redman, executive director of College Houses and Academic Services. “I’ve never found a process that’s 100 percent foolproof.”Comments powered by Disqus
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