Council Recommends New Housing Lottery

The Residential Committee of the Undergraduate Council last night voted unanimously in favor of a new housing lottery plan entitled "enhanced choice."

The new plan would allow first-years to specify one first- choice house, followed by three non-ordered choices.

The present system, which is at the end of a three-year trial period, requires students to give four non-ordered choices.

"It's clear, it's simple, and it makes a lot of sense," said Malcolm A. Heinicke '93, chair of the council and a co-sponsor of the new plan.

The new plan would scan the list of rising sophomores three times. Lottery numbers would be assigned randomly, as they are now.

The first scan would fill 25 percent of each house with groups who listed that house as their first choice.

On the second run-through, remaining groups would be assigned randomly to one of the four houses they listed. The final groups would be randomized.

A report endorsing the new plan has been drafted by Residential Committee Co-Chairs David L. Hanselman '94 and Jennifer W. Grove '94, Council Chair Heinicke and Vice-Chair Steven N. Kalkanis '93.

The report cites a Harvard Independent poll that showed that 48 percent of students prefer ordered choice, while 38 percent are happy with non-ordered choice. The new plan was proposed as a compromise between the two lottery methods.

The report says the advantages of enhanced choice include increased choice given to students coupled with the retention of a large degree of the current randomization.

The report also speculates that "students willbe more content with their housing assignments,"reducing requests for interhouse transfers.

The report addressed concerns about the newplan possibly causing a decrease in diversitywithin the houses by saying that diversity wouldbe preserved by the 25 percent threshold forstrict first choice selection.

After the formality of being docketed at thecouncil's executive board meeting this evening,the housing issue will go before the entirecouncil Sunday night.

"I'm very optimistic that [the plan] will passresoundingly," Hanselman said.

Council executives were positive about theplan's chances with the administration as well."Most of the house masters seem to like it too,"Hanselman said.

If approved by the entire council, the planwill be recommended to the Committee on HouseLife, which consists of five council members, fivehouse masters, and members of the administration.

Dean of the College, L. Fred Jewett '57 has theultimate say in the plan's fate. "Dean Jewett hasencouraged us to look into this and other ideas,"Heinicke said.

If approved, the plan should "definitely" beimplemented in time for the class of 1997,Hanselman said. Since the current first-yearschoose houses in March, however, Hanselman said hewas not sure whether the plan could be implementedin time to benefit them