While GW’s first online housing lottery went off without catastrophe, Housing Services and the Community Living and Learning Center should have been better prepared to handle glitches that did occur. Students went most of the day without knowing which rooms were being taken, and at least a handful of students were booked to rooms that were already full.
The availability screen, a crucial page that tells students about room supply, was taken down at about 11 a.m. after it gave unreliable information. Students cannot make informed decisions about their next home if they lack real-time information.
While CLLC officials could not predict all possible problems, they should have established better contact with technology officials to troubleshoot in advance and come up with a reasonable back-up plan. CLLC could have utilized the cable TV system used in years past or had a back-up site in place to be updated manually.
Some students who purchased their rooms through Martha’s Marathon and at least two lottery participants were placed in the same rooms. By Sunday evening, some quad rooms in New Hall ending in 06 were booked with eight people, instead of the four. This seems like a problem that could have been avoided with a simple double check by CLLC officials. More troubling was a lack of information about the scope and cause of the problem by Sunday night, leaving students in the dark on an important issue.
Because of this error, the University Honors Program students who chose and were promised by CLLC to be placed in New Hall will now receive housing in the Dakota. Accommodating honors students by giving them their own floor in the Dakota works well to solve the overbooking problem, but it is unfortunate the University must back out of its promise. At least underclassmen in the Honors Program will receive the chance to live in New Hall in the future.
Predictably, students did not react warmly to having rooms chosen for them. This time around, a good housing number did not ensure a good room if you were unfortunate enough to land a first-floor room. Students should be aware that the opportunity cost GW was willing to spend for new technology was their right to choose specific rooms. Despite this, the lottery so far has avoided a wait list, which is a welcome change from previous years.
Sadly, it seems CLLC has not learned from its insufficient first attempt at the online process. Housing Services Director Andrew Sonn said he sees no reason to have a back-up plan for updating progress of the selection for rising sophomores, coming March 10. We suggest he change his mind.
This article appeared in the February 28, 2002 issue of the Hatchet.