Butler housing: Is it too simple to work?

CHRISTIAN HARTSELLE | chartsel@butler.edu | Opinion Columnist

Students with high lottery numbers should not have to live in on-campus apartments they cannot afford.

As a small school, Butler University has a fundamentally simple housing lottery. Students choose their housing intention online; weeks later, they receive a message with a random lottery number. Lower numbers choose first.

Residence Life implements this process to ensure fair student housing. Special treatment is out of the question.

Nevertheless, even with good intentions, housing at Butler remains flawed for students.

Sophomore Holly York disagreed with Butler’s housing lottery’s structure. Two of her friends were forced into University Terrace this year.

“It makes it more fair,” said York, “for some students to have priority over others in the housing lottery.”

This includes students who can’t afford to live in an apartment.

It also includes students wanting to live in co-ed apartments. They should not have to be treated like guinea pigs in a “revolutionary” lab experiment and be limited to specific sections of Apartment Village.

York made a clear point: Same and fair are not the same thing here.

Giving every student the same chances with random lottery numbers doesn’t create a fair housing situation, because some students simply are in different circumstances—usually different economic circumstances.

Some students need some sort of stability in knowing they can live in a dorm.

According to Brown University’s Residential Council website, students enter the lottery as a group and select housing in a single night. This prevents miscommunication of needs since they are all addressed directly with the students. At Butler, the initial housing process is done primarily through email, which causes more confusion.

As a small school, Butler should be able to arrange a system similar to Brown University’s.

In another case, according to the university’s office of housing website, Syracuse University conducts multiple rounds of room selections to give students what they need “within the limits of available resources.” At Syracuse, students are well-informed about their available options.

Shelia Han, a freshman student at Purdue University, was ultimately satisfied with her housing situation, despite not even knowing she was attending there until August.

She lives in an apartment within walking distance from Purdue’s campus, despite her last-minute entrance.

“There are many property owners,” she said. “Purdue is a big campus, though, and there’s a lot of different choices.”

Butler students applying for housing all the way back in March have more problems than Purdue students like Han, who decided to attend a few weeks before classes. It makes you skeptical if Butler’s random lottery is really justified as the best method.

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