Students shelled out thousands of dollars for housing numbers Friday night at the 38th annual Martha’s Marathon as the highest bid reached $7,600.
Students entered a raffle for the top lottery number while the second through fifth numbers were auctioned off to the highest student bidder at the Hollywood-themed event. Housing selection is scheduled for April 26 for freshmen and April 27 for sophomores and juniors.
While the Residence Hall Association has auctioned off ten housing numbers in past years, Community Living and Learning Center officials cut the number in half earlier this semester. The move angered RHA leaders, who sponsor Martha’s Marathon. CLLC officials cited a lack of on-campus beds and noted the event was unfair to students who cannot afford thousands of dollars for lottery numbers.
The event raised almost $30,000 compared to last year’s record-breaking $44,738. The funds go toward housing scholarships.
“(I) was hoping that the added demand with fewer spots would counterbalance the loss of five spots,” RHA President Emily Naden said.
This year’s top bid, by freshman Gabrielle Pretto, was almost double last year’s high of $4,300.
” I went through a really bad experience first semester with my roommate, so it’s worth it,” said Pretto, who purchased the fourth number at the highest price of the night. Pretto said she plans on living in a double in New Hall.
Marathon organizers said this year’s event was also different from past years’ because it took place before students fill out Intent to Return forms and receive lottery numbers.
While housing numbers were set to be released in early February, the process was postponed in the wake of a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling mandating 70 percent of all undergraduates to live on campus next year, and other major housing changes still in progress.
Next year’s housing changes include allowing rising sophomores first pick of traditionally upperclassmen halls like New, JBKO and Francis Scott Key halls.
Students will be able to fill out ITR forms online the week of March 24, which will immediately allow students to see their lottery numbers.
Some students said the late release of the numbers encouraged them to bid.
“Knowing that there is limited housing next year, we knew the only way to get good housing was to insure it,” said freshman Gregg Sokoloff, who bought the second number with two of his friends for $6,600.
The event included a live auction on such items as weekend getaways and a lunch with University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg.
Student a cappella group Emocapella performed during a brief intermission. A silent auction featured signed sports memorabilia and gold-plated shovels.
Silence swept over the crowd as organizers shook the box of 920 lottery tickets.
The top housing number went to freshman William Poels, a current resident of the Hall on Virginia Avenue.
Poels said he bought twenty lottery tickets in hopes to improve his odds, and he plans to live in New Hall next year.
Bidding for the remaining four numbers wrapped up with No. 5 going for $6,900, Pretto’s No. 4 for $7,600, No. 3 for $6,000 and $6,600 for No. 2.
“(The bidding was a) nonstop roller coaster ride,” said freshman Adam Kravitz, who will share the second number with Sokoloff and another roommate.
While some students said they were concerned that others are allowed to purchase housing numbers, some defended the practice.
“I think it’s fine. It goes toward scholarships,” freshman Alex Halper said. “This is America, not some communist country. People with more money deserve to get better housing.”