Living arrangements on campus are a fundamental aspect of the Princeton experience. Students sleep, socialize, work, and decompress in their rooms; they are one of the few places that undergraduates can personalize and call their own. As such, room draw is understandably a stressful time. Students worry over their draw time, over the type of room they will be able to select, over who they will be living with. Princeton should ensure the logistical aspects of room draw ease the process for undergraduates and minimize these uncertainties. The Board proposes that Housing & Real Estate Services better circulate information concerning room draw, streamline the housing website and its available resources, eliminate loopholes in the draw system, and revise shared meal plan allocations.
To begin, information on the logistics and intricacies of room draw is not well publicized at Princeton. Few relevant emails are sent to college listservs; information sessions are sparsely attended. In a system as complicated as ours, with six unique draws that students can enter into as rising upperclassmen, Princeton needs to promote a better understanding of room draw among its students. One simple remedy would be for Residential College Advisors to explain the sophomore and upperclassmen draw processes to their freshmen students and remain available as resources once room draw starts.
Further reform should take place on the Undergraduate Housing website. As inspiration, Princeton could look towards the Eating Clubs site, which is easy to navigate and transparent regarding all aspects of the clubs. The My Housing portion of Princeton’s site is both lacking in information and difficult to navigate—in particular, the “How Rooms Drew” document could be improved. It should delineate between different draws and give the actual number that rooms drew in rather than just a list with draw times that change year to year. In addition, the document would be vastly more useful if it contained more information than just the room number; for instance, the square footage, the number of occupants, and whether or not the room has a bathroom.
The Board also proposes changes to the upperclassmen residential college draw process. It is currently possible for students to manipulate their draw time by entering into each of the three residential college draws with different groups consisting of students from the respective colleges. This gives them higher weights in each draw time selection, and the student can choose whichever of the three draws allocated him the best time. This loophole could be eliminated by requiring students to draw with the same group for each college, limiting the number of college draws they can enter, or averaging their draw position across each college.
The limited allocation of shared meal plans further disadvantages upperclassmen in eating clubs who would like to join a four year residential college. Princeton should strive to foster strong residential college communities; forcing some students to leave their college after they join a club defeats this objective. The University should either increase the allotment of shared meal plans to each club or discard the meal plan requirement for drawing into a four year college (while still giving priority to students who will select a meal plan). This change would greatly benefit eating club members who would like to room with friends not in clubs and those students whose schedules are more suited to college meal times than eating club meal times. Moreover, it would create stronger residential college communities and forge ties between eating club members and other students across all class years.
Room draw is a stressful time for all Princeton students. The administration should do all it can to improve the process—the changes outlined in this editorial would be both easy to implement and beneficial to the campus community.