Recent confusion over junior housing in Pierson College highlights students’ dissatisfaction with different housing processes in residential colleges, none of which are standardized.
According to several Pierson sophomores, the Pierson housing committee sent an email on April 8 with a spreadsheet showing 20 single rooms that were supposedly available to sophomores. However, the sophomores were informed less than 36 hours before their housing draw that the singles were going to be converted into suites of four. Travis Brady ’18, chair of the Pierson housing committee, confirmed that a master list was “mistakenly” sent out to the sophomore class and did not reflect the housing demands for the upcoming academic year, though it should be taken into account that these rooms are frequently used for flexible housing. Several students affected by the incident said they wished there had been more communication in advance of the correction to prevent a scramble into groups of four for the students whom had assumed they would be able to request singles.
“It seemed that at every stage the process was in some way geared against us,” said Robert Gerdisch ’19, who was affected by the last-minute change. “There was a lot of drama and unnecessary chaos.”
Daniel Flesch ’19, who was also affected by the change, said he did not think there was any ill will involved in the last-minute change and did not “entirely blame” the committee. Claire Rossi de Leon ’19, another sophomore in Pierson, said the committee “did the best they could” and “told us as soon as possible.”
Still, Flesch said he believes that the process was disorganized. Flesch and Gerdisch also noted that the dean’s office made a correction to the number of quintet suites available to rising juniors just under an hour before the draw, causing confusion among his classmates.
In an email to Gerdisch on April 3, the Pierson housing committee wrote that after the senior draw “most of the singles will be gone, but there will be a good amount left available (I’d say anywhere between 15 and 20).” A Google Sheets spreadsheet for unofficial housing registration listed 20 available singles on April 8, but was changed to nine on April 10.
On the same day, a representative from the Pierson housing committee notified current sophomores by email that the list of rooms available had been changed such that rooms formerly listed as singles had been turned into quads. According to Gerdisch and Flesch, they were told that the 20 singles would be mostly grouped together into connected threes that include two doubles and a common room.
“We talked to a [housing representative] and … it didn’t seem very evident to him the implications of such a miscommunication, because of the chaos it ensued,” Gerdisch said. “There was not a level of transparency that was conducive to efficiently managing housing for people.”
Pierson College Dean June Chu, who is in her first year of deanship, did not respond to a request for comment.
The recent confusion in housing in Pierson relates to other difficulties students have had with their own colleges’ housing processes. Though nine total colleges adopted the online system StarRez in the spring semester of 2014 to better integrate and manage the housing process, several have since returned to previous systems, such as Google Forms or Sheets. Timothy Dwight and Pierson are two of the three colleges to move away from StarRez this year.
Andrew Saydjari ’18 said TD could use substantial revisions to prevent chaotic situations in which too many groups of students will enter draws for certain sizes of suites in too limited number, leading to stressful situations in which groups need to be broken up, merged together and finalized within one night.
Still, the systems themselves are often not the problem. Isaac Shelanksi ’20 said he had an unfortunate experience with the Davenport housing committee, in which the body overrode an agreement his suite had come to with the college dean without proper notice, calling the committee’s decision “unfair and unnecessary.”
Three housing representatives from Davenport — Clay Bailey ’20, Sarah Gannet ’20 and Eren Kafadar ’20, a staff reporter for the News — said the process on the whole went smoothly this year. Gannet noted that implementing multiple college-specific deadlines helped ease pressure on students.
Other colleges have sought to fix some of the problems that Saydjari noted exist within TD.
“We’ve thought about this a lot over the past four years, what’s the best method for making this process as humane as possible,” said Mimi Pham ’17, chair of the Morse College housing committee. “I think housing brings out the worst in people.”
Pham said Morse offers students 48 hours to resolve conflicts after the draw to mitigate the sort of stress that Saydjari described. Noting that the process can be especially difficult for freshmen, she added that the committee often relies on freshman counselors to help mediate housing issues. She also stressed the importance of open, comfortable communication between students, the housing committee and dean as the most important part of organizing housing.
Saydjari, who recognizes Morse’s housing process as one of the best on campus, said Yale should standardize the housing processes to prevent the residents of some colleges from being left with less ideal housing situations.
Rising Pierson sophomores completed their housing process on Tuesday night.