The housing lottery is stressful, but it is a system that works


Bethany Abrams

As a first-year student and rising sophomore, this was my first experience with Augustana College’s housing lottery. As expected, it was quite a stressful time waiting and watching all the available rooms disappear. But that moment of panic may just have to be tolerated for the sake of having as fair of a room selection as possible. 
The housing selection process for rising sophomores began on April 5 at 9:45 AM. Each student participating in the selection process was given a certain time where they could access the Augustana Housing Self-Service website and choose an available room.
In an email sent to rising sophomores, Residential Life said, “[h]ousing preferences are filled on a first-come,first-serve basis. This is why it is important to make parallel plans in case you do not get your first choice. For rising sophomore housing, two-person options are the most available option.”
With this warning to have backup plans, many students, including myself, prepared to have a potentially difficult time getting the exact room and residence building desired. Luckily, some students did get the rooms that they desired.
First-year Elena Haffner was ultimately happy with her results even though she and her future roommate had different selection times.
“I had an early enough time that not many rooms had been taken. We got the room we wanted in the building we wanted, and altogether the process was pretty easy,” said Haffner.
However, despite fortunate results, there were a few qualms about the housing selection process that she and I share. For instance, although it was not terrible, having the room selection process occur the day after Easter while on break did add some stress to a day meant for relaxation. 
“It was a little annoying, but only because my roommate and I had to video call each other to make sure the applications went through correctly,” said Haffner.
For me, the rooming selection process was less smooth. With a roommate group of four individuals, including myself, we were hoping for a room in Swanson residence hall. Except with our earliest selection time being 11:15 AM, all the rooms in Swanson were already taken.
Albeit a bit disappointing, this was something we had prepared for. However, as we attempted to then look at backup plans in Erickson Residence Hall, we were unable to find any rooms there either. It became apparent that this process was going to be a long one, but we were still on a time crunch to figure it out in our 30-minute time slot.
With making phone calls and sending emails to Residential Life and having an impromptu group video call, the process ended up being more stressful than any of us had anticipated. This video call included two of my future roommates whose selection time was later, and one happened to be driving back to Augustana from her home when all of this was going on.
Fortunately, we were able to get a hold of each other and the Residential Life staff was receptive and beyond helpful. We were able to figure something out that worked for all four of us and our parents, but it definitely made our last day of Easter recess stressful.
All in all, the housing lottery was a stressful experience. As it was my first time, I did not know entirely what to expect, besides that it would be similar to registration. However, after experiencing it and even getting a result that was not necessarily our first choice, it became clear that the lottery system may be the best if certain things, such as navigating the website, were improved.
With a lottery system, everything is ensured to be completely random. This is a good system as it allows for students to not feel gypped by the school itself, considering it is not premeditated. In addition, with someone from Residential Life available on call, it feels as though we are supported to as much of an extent as possible.
In that way, the housing room selection process is a messy, panic-inducing process. But it seems to be one that we just have to tolerate.