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The Not So Suite Life of Tufts Housing

The past several weeks at Tufts have been marked by more stress for first-year students than the usual midterms or papers, caused by the infamous Housing Process. As first-years attempt to navigate their first round of the housing selection, many people question the validity of the process.

Lottery numbers are handed out at random to the freshmen class; these numbers, either compared alone for a single or averaged with others to form groups, determines the location and size of students’ housing for the next year. This process is, by far, fairer than on other college campuses, where only the highest number of a group determines the fate of everyone involved. This system leads to toxic power dynamics within friend groups, in which one member has all control of the situation.

Tufts’ solution to this problem, averaging a group number, helps to remove some the power of high numbers amongst their friends. However, another problem emerges regarding the most coveted housing option on campus: ten-person suites. These suites, located in buildings such as Wren and Haskell, are meant to give friend groups a joint living common space to share and enjoy together. The problem comes when groups form at random to maximize their lottery numbers to ensure their place in a suite. The only connection between many of these groups is their shared high numbers, a power they can take advantage of regardless of their friendships or lack thereof with other people in the group.

Where does the issue lie in this process? Groups formed to maximize lottery numbers may not represent friends or communities that will make the most use of the space. A shared common room is a commodity that can be most used by a group of people that are close together, and will take advantage of the opportunity to live with such close friends. What happens to close friend groups who do not receive high lottery numbers? They will not receive a suite, and oftentimes, do not even receive housing on the same side of campus.

At other schools, the housing system has been changed to benefit communities that wish to stay close after freshmen year. Many schools guarantee housing in the same building or part of campus for small groups, regardless of their lottery numbers. Implementing this change in Tufts’ current system would give students a chance to live near their friends, in West, Carmichael, or even Harleston (yikes). To many students, the ability to live alongside a supportive community of friends is more important than the quality of the dorm itself.

Tufts’ housing selection process deserves a second look, to make the stress-filled process more manageable for First-Years and all students living on and off of campus. Students deserve a new housing system that brings friends closer together instead of punishing them for bad lottery numbers, and to help out the poor souls with lottery numbers that predate the airing of Suite Life of Zack and Cody (2005, in case you want to feel old).

 

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