For many, the verdict on housing will be handed down this week. And as the dates of housing draws near, students seem consumed with ranking rooms, planning the perfect pick, and calculating their odds of success. Yale may have a great theater program, but no production compares to the drama of housing. Although there are some steps Yale could take to make the process easier, it is students who bear the responsibility for creating the existing melodrama and students who have the power to put an end to it.
A natural outgrowth of Yale’s residential college system is that each college has vastly different living arrangements, and, therefore, housing procedures. Talking to friends in other colleges about housing is pointless; the colleges have such different rules and regulations that discussions and complaints don’t translate. The dates of different colleges’ registration and room draws also vary widely. Such differences can complicate matters for students moving off campus with friends from other colleges and give students in some colleges an unfair advantage.
Because of the greatly varied capacities and configurations of suites in different colleges, however, developing standardized procedures is not feasible. What we would welcome, though, is some sense of overarching structure or a set of uniform guidelines. What might be of great benefit, for example, is standardizing the registration process. The University should establish a specified window with specific dates during which students in all colleges must register for their respective draws, putting all students in the same time frame for dealing with housing issues.
Such standardization obviously won’t solve all the inequities of on-campus housing, but nothing really can. Each year, housing draws create high drama on campus. More than a few students have cried or thrown tantrums during their draws. Others have tried to intimidate their competitors into dropping out of certain draws or even tried to pay off other students in order to obtain their dream rooms. Such melodrama over where we live turns the whole process into a much nastier and more painful one than it has to be. It’s a shame that a few students used to getting what they want are so determined to commandeer their housing draws.
So we suggest that instead of complaining about the inevitable last pick or gloating about the desirable first pick, students all take the housing draws a little less seriously. It’s not worth trying to beat the system. The nature of a draw is inherently unfair — someone must pick first and someone last — but it’s the best option we have. And really, there are few students who can’t be happy regardless of what room they pick.
Often, superficial attributes that seem so important during the draw turn out to be irrelevant the following year. How will our lives really be different if our common room is 10 square feet larger than our neighbors’ or if it has a bay window instead of a regular one? We could convince ourselves that living in a walk-through double will ruin our entire year or that we can’t possibly have any fun at all if our friends live in another entryway. But in the end, a room is just a room, and housing, like everything else at Yale, is not inherently good or bad, but is simply what we make of it.