Harvard Law School Makes Online Zero-L Course Free for All U.S. Law Schools Due to Coronavirus


For Kennedy School Fellows, Epstein-Linked Donors Present a Moral Dilemma


Tenants Grapple with High Rents and Local Turnover at Asana-Owned Properties


In April, Theft Surged as Cambridge Residents Stayed at Home


The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Eliminating Discontent


By Gay Seidman

Ever since the College got rid of masters' choice as a method of assigning rising sophomores to Houses, freshmen have cursed the computer that places them in their bottom choice.

It isn't that they want to return to the old system, but somehow the computer winds up putting people either in one of their first three or last three choices.

The middle range tends to disappear, because those Houses that are considered mildly desirable are someone else's first choice, and get filled up the first time the computer scans the lists.

And for the last few years the bottom choices have been the Quad Houses. Last year, virtually all the rising sophomores who received one of their last three housing choices were sent to Currier, South or North House.

The widespread discontent with the assignment system led the College Dean's Office to announce last week that students will now list only their first three choices on their housing applications.

The computer will place as many rooming groups as possible in their first three choices, and after that, it will assign them at random.

Ann B. Spence, assistant dean of the College, explained last week that this system will not only increase the number of groups receiving their first choice, but it will alleviate some of the misery students suffer when they are assigned to their twelfth choice House.

"The 12-choice system forces people to think about the distinction between their eleventh and twelfth choices, when there probably isn't much of a real difference in preference," she said.

What the new system also does is cut down the amount of information about the number of disappointed freshmen, because it will no longer be possible to differentiate between mildly disappointed and really miserable students.

Which is, perhaps, the easiest way possible of cutting down disappointment with the assignment system.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.