Schirin Rangnick

Feeling lucky? This year, the Berkeley Head of College’s Office is running weekly lotteries for winnings as coveted as tickets to the Yale Symphony Orchestra’s renowned Halloween Show.

The new lottery system for Berkeley students was introduced at the beginning of the academic year by Head of College David Evans, who assumed the position in May 2016. It is currently managed by the college’s operations manager and two senior administrative assistants to the dean and head of college, and the lottery has gifted tickets to the Criterion Cinema, Yale Repertory Theater and most recently, a showing of “The Book of Mormon” at the Shubert Theater.

Evans said the lotteries — which receive around 100 entries each week — are a fun way to foster community spirit in Berkeley and said he is excited about their popularity.

“They’ve been great because for a lot of people who don’t have that much time to dedicate to Berkeley, they can just fill out something online and be part of a really cool community event,” said Safia Speer ’20, the Student Activities Committee chair on the Berkeley College Council.

The prizes offered are determined based on what the Head of College’s Office believes students will enjoy and to what type of events it can supply two or three tickets.

Distinct from other college activities, the lottery is a low-commitment means to draw busy students into residential college life, said Ethan Young ’18, Berkeley’s chief college aide.

“It’s the kind of thing that didn’t exist at all before, so I think that people are excited to see it,” Young said. “It’s kind of a low-stress, very simple way to, from your computer, get involved in what’s going on in the college”

Other residential colleges are also known to run regular lotteries for their students. Ezra Stiles College recently gave away tickets to see Trevor Noah live at the Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut on Sept. 16.

What sets the lottery at Berkeley apart from other residential college giveaways is its focus on New Haven, Young said, noting that the lottery makes an effort to gift tickets to local shows and activities.

“In the past, we’ve done subsidized trips, or some colleges will do lotteries for tickets in New York,” Young said. “But our impetus in this lottery is to always have New Haven-related events, so we’re trying to invest in New Haven stuff.”

Emily Schussheim |