Housing lottery disappoints rising second-year students

Housing lottery disappoints rising second-year students

From March 21-29, Case Western Reserve University’s returning students, who submitted their housing application by March 18, participated in the housing lottery to select their 2024-25 academic year on-campus housing assignment. For many current first-year students, this lottery would determine their housing assignment for the next academic year as they are required to live on campus. They could choose from single and double rooms in the new South Residential Village (SRV) Buildings, existing SRV locations (four- and six-person suites on Murray Hill or Carlton Road) and a limited number of four-person apartments in Stephanie Tubbs Jones Residence Hall (STJ).

With the new SRV buildings expected to open in fall 2024, this complicated the room selection process for some rising second-year students. Despite the university’s excitement about the new dorms, its anticipation was not reflected amongst the first-year students who would be their inhabitants.

Accounting and finance major Merry Ding said her four-person group was hoping to select a suite in STJ.

“Because I am a business major, the majority (if not all) of my classes are [on the north side] in [Peter B. Lewis],” she said. “Thus living on north-side would be extremely beneficial for my morning commute to classes.”

The Office of University Housing sent an email on March 26 informing first-year students that suites in Murray Hill or Carlton Road were almost filled and followed up with an email after the lottery that waiting lists would open the week of April 1 for students who want the remaining single rooms in the new SRV dorms, suites in STJ or less expensive housing options.

“We released all room types at once in the second-year lottery to streamline the process and avoid confusion,” Vern Rogers, executive director of University Housing, said. “We anticipated some mismatch between room supply and demand, which is common in housing lotteries. The process itself functioned as designed, ensuring fairness for all participants.”

Ding was assigned March 29 at 5 p.m. for room selection, so her group was unable to select a suite.

“My initial reaction to the news was frustration, anger, and eventually resignation. You could say I did go through all five stages of grief. I think my sentiment was largely a reflection of my friends’ and peers around me,” she said. “The process of room selection was stressful and understanding the complicated nature of it had already taken a toll on many of my friends so hearing the news that something so out of our control resulted in the loss of majority preferred housing within the first day of room selection was very demoralizing.”

Ding’s group separated and, during her lottery time, she selected a double room in John Sykes Fayette House (formerly called SRV 2).

“Since my lottery ticket was released on the final day at a late time I had no choice but to choose between three double rooms in the new Hall 2 on south-side,” she said. “At that point I was too tired of the whole thing to care.”

Majoring in biomedical engineering, Christy Li also had a March 29 time slot. After receiving the email from University Housing, her group chose to separate.

“I ended up in a double. I am upset that I didn’t get a choice to choose whether or not I would be living in SRV nor the amount of money I would be spending on housing next year,” she said. “I don’t think it is fair for there to be a lottery process that will only benefit a select few students that get lucky, and then basically screw everyone else over on their living arrangements for a whole year, and not allow us to live off campus.”

Liu said that some members of her original group went through the housing accommodations process with Disability Resources (DR) to be assigned a single room.


“The fact that they reserve a lot of the rooms for disability accommodations is being severely abused by students, and it is also limiting the amount of rooms for all of the other students to choose from,” she said.

Mentioning DR’s process in reviewing each accommodation request, Rogers said that University Housing will work to place approved students in housing that meets their needs.

“We understand concerns about the potential misuse of housing accommodations,” he said. “This process includes verifying a documented disability and determining how a specific housing accommodation would address the documented need. We are committed to upholding these procedures to ensure fairness and equity in our housing system.”

Physics major Chloe Meyer needed a wheelchair-accessible dorm. She said that getting housing accommodations is a somewhat difficult process.

“You have to get extensive documentation of your disability from a physician for Housing to even consider your request,” she said. “I don’t think it’s right to file with DR simply because you want a single, but there are a lot of reasons why someone genuinely needs one for accommodation reasons. There may be some people abusing housing accommodations, but I don’t think it is a widespread issue and it’s unfortunately an issue that already occurs with accommodations in general. There are people with legitimate needs for housing accommodations, and abusing these accommodations makes it harder for those who truly need it to receive their accommodations.”

University Housing places approved students into rooms that satisfy their accommodations prior to the lottery.

“I don’t think that it’s right that students with disabilities have no say over which dorm they can choose. Students without accommodations at least have some say in where they stay, but we don’t get any choices,” Meyer said. “My dorm is [$1,750] per semester more than the cheapest dorm option for sophomores. I think it’s odd that I have to pay so much extra to just even get a dorm that I can live in, especially when I get no say over the process.”

Rogers believes there are several reasons for higher demand in Murray Hill and Carlton Road suites.

“Price and the configuration of private bedrooms are likely factors students consider. Additionally, some students may feel more comfortable with familiar, established housing options compared to a brand-new building where the experience is still unknown,” Rogers said.

Several students expressed frustration with the 2024-25 academic year price of SRV doubles, which are $7,000 per semester, compared to $6,250 for a Murray Hill suite or $5,500 for a Carlton Road suite.

Referencing that the first-year buildings’ cost is $5,335 per semester for a double room in 2024-25 academic year, Liu believes it’s unfair for the university to require the majority of second-year students to pay $1,665 more to live in SRV double rooms.

“I feel like the only perk is that it’s a new building and has air conditioning, and shouldn’t warrant it to be so expensive.” she said.

Ding highlighted the lack of choice students felt in regard to their room and board rate.

“This loss of ability to choose I’m sure was a huge distress factor for many people since we are already paying so so much for housing,” she said, referencing some students’ inability to choose a less expensive housing option.

While not partaking in housing selection, Meyer believes the lottery process causes a financial burden for students with later selection times.

She said, “A student may not have the extra $1000+ per semester to pay for an SRV dorm but are stuck with it due to their place in the lottery line.”

Rogers said that University Housing offers options at a range of price points and that the office is working with students who have financial concerns to relocate them to less-expensive options as availability opens.

“We offer second-year housing options at a range of price points to accommodate different budgets, including lowering the price of existing housing options,” Rogers said. “Our second-year housing prices reflect the amenities and value provided within each housing option. Revenue from housing fees is directly invested in maintaining and enhancing our residence halls.”

With the cost of living increasing for the majority of rising second-year students, some students, including Liu, have contacted the Office of Financial Aid.

“They don’t really care about the price increase, and the housing people just defer you to financial aid,” Liu said.

Acknowledging students’ disappointment, Rogers encourages students to “remain open-minded” and to favorably consider the amenities provided by the new SRV buildings.

“Case Western Reserve has a variety of living spaces, and we’re excited about the new residence hall coming online!” he said. “This building offers fantastic amenities, creates a new hub of activity on the south campus, and will be a vibrant community for the second-year experience. We’re confident that students living there will have an exceptional experience.”

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