Beloit College Magazine

Beloit College Magazine

Summer 2015 (July 21, 2015 at 6:00 am)

Get a Room


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July 13, 2015 at 12:54 pm

NEWS_room lottery_BCMSum15.jpg
Students weigh their room options from floor plans posted in Pearsons Hall during the room lottery. Choices are ruled by a combination of luck and seniority. Photo by Trevor Johnson’08

Each spring, Beloit’s Office of Residential Life has the unenviable task of helping hundreds of students select their digs for the coming fall. Typically around 450 sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have not opted to live in special interest or Greek houses select living spaces through a room lottery, a system originally devised by Beloit students.

This process involves an esoteric vocabulary, required face time, and certain unwavering rules (lottery numbers are NOT transferrable, for instance). Seniority rules this process, but luck comes into play, too. Seniors draw from the lowest range of numbers, an ascending range goes to juniors, and so on. Students pull numbers within their class year range. Low numbers are most prized because they give students first shot at available rooms.

On one designated, well-publicized day in spring, students stop by the Residential Life Office to pull their lottery numbers out of a box. About a week later, they assemble on three different dates by class year in Pearsons Hall to vie for rooms in their respective groups. The lowest lottery number in each group gets first choice and the selections work their way up the number range. As students’ numbers are called, they step up either as individuals or in self-selected groups to choose their abode from what’s available on floor plans posted on the walls.

Rising senior Sammi Kinard’16 drew numero uno in the 2015 lottery, but then decided to “squat” in her existing room, a corner single in Whitney Hall.

“I decided to keep it because it has the largest closet space on campus, and it’s a pretty decent size for being a single,” she says. Kinard also likes her building’s proximity to Commons and to The Wall, which is the spot where carryout orders are typically delivered by local restaurants. “Once during the last school year, Pizza Hut actually came with free individual slices for anyone who was around, which was pretty neat,” she adds.

Definition of Terms

“Keepers”: students who opt to retain their existing rooms from one year to the next. About 130 students were “keepers” this year.

A “friendship group”: four to six students who want to live together or in adjacent rooms. They submit a list of names and draw lottery tickets individually, then average their numbers for the lottery. If two friendship groups average the same number in the lottery, a coin toss determines the winner.

Beloit has a six-semester residency requirement, so most first-years, sophomores, and juniors need to select housing on campus, but many seniors do, too. Roughly 95 percent of students live on campus.

Students with classes or athletic contests scheduled during the lottery drawing and room selection are encouraged to use a proxy, which allows a friend to act on their behalf. The lottery booklet, which includes detailed instructions about the process, emphasizes:  “If you have class, you will need to obtain the service of a proxy - do not cut classes!!!” 

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