More than 50 percent of the students requesting housing transfers will move this week into the House of their choices, a University housing official said yesterday.
Fifty-three of the 95 students who applied last month were allowed to transfer, Susan A. Neer, housing officer for the College, said. Whether student requests were approved depended on the applicant's seniority, each house's independent selection process, and the attrition rate of the original house, she added.
Some House officials said the principal reason motivating transfer requests was the desire to be near friends. Other cited the need to live closer to activities; one called "disatisfaction with the houses they are in" the major reason. "I once had an applicant who said he wanted to get away from the city and move to the suburbs," Shirley Broner, assistant to the master of South House, said.
Although all freshmen are assigned to their houses by lottery, the transfer process varies widely from house to house. Mather, for example, uses a "blind" method; Eliot and Lowell use what Neer called a "more personal" system of mandatory interviews.
The official criteria published by each house before the process begins lists available space, seniority and class balance as the only factors. But some students complained that decisions are made on more subjective criteria. Getting letters of recommendation from members of the House and having other "contacts," for example, are considered virtually necessary for acceptance into certain houses, some students said.
"Definitely the more people you know the better," said Teresa L. Ridley '84 a North House resident who tried to transfer to Adams. Calling the process "very political," she added, "I just didn't try as hard as other."
Elizabeth A. Segal '84, who transferred from North House to Adams, however, said. "I can't say that I had any pull," adding that she had no letters written in her behalf.
"Everything is done under the table," said one student who tried to transfer to Eliot but was not accepted, adding the she was naïve for not realizing that "there's a lot going on behind the scenes."
Other students who applied to Eliot and were rejected felt they were not given accurate information. Officials at Eliot House originally said they did not have any space "but were interviewing anyway," one student said. After saying that there was only one space available, Eliot accepted six people, said Thomas S. Strickler '84 of North House.