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Jewett Makes Non-Ordered Compromise

The Lottery Debate

By Madhavi Sunder

There's an old saying that the mark of a good compromise is that it makes nobody happy.

By that criterion, the recent decision to change the lottery to non-ordered choice was an excellent one.

Coming after three long years of debate, Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 said last week that he has completed his plan to assign first-year students to upperclass houses through a system of non-ordered choice.

The new lottery plan is a marked change from the current one, which allowed student rooming groups to designate their first, second and third choices in housing, and assigned the houses according to lottery numbers.

Under non-ordered choice, first-year students will pick four housing choices, without selecting a preference from among them. They will then be randomlv assigned to one of the four choices.

According to Jewett, the non-ordered choice plan will be run for a trial period of three years, after which time its effects will be reviewed.

The non-ordered choice option, first introduced by the first year Committee Against Randomization (CAR) this fall, was the final compromise between students, who favored the old system of choice, and the dean and a majority of house masters, who favored totally random assignments. None are entirely happy with it, but they are accepting it.

Jewett and several of the masters said the old lottery system had created a situation where several houses had severely skewed populations in some areas, such as athletics and certain extracurricular activities.

Data released by the dean earlier this fall indicated to many that diversity within the housing system was a genuine concern; the dean's figures indicated that more than 60 percent of one house was composed of varsity athletes, and another did not have even a single varsity football, basketball or baseball player.

But statistics still have not swayed many first years, who are complaining they are being deprived of the right to choice upperclass students have had.

"Stereotyping is not such a big deal that you should go to such measures," said Nicholas L. Seaver '93, who said he has still has not decided which four houses he will put down on his housing form. "I think you should choose where you live."

"It's not fair that we came here expecting the old system, but they changed it on us a couple of months before we have to decide," said Kimberly A. Ziev '93. "It's a good idea to do it next year, when they would have been warned, but it's not fair to do it to us at this time."

Despite efforts by the Undergraduate Council and CAR to postpone the plan's implementation until next year, Jewett chose to start the new system this year, since many masters said postponing the decision would only exacerbate the situation.

Because the data released this year clearly outlined that skewing in some houses traversed beyond mere stereotypes to reality, Leverett House Master John D. Dowling '57 said he feared that the houses with the biggest diversity problems would get even fewer applicants of diverse backgrounds and interests under another year of choice.

According to Dowling and student leaders themselves, change was in the cards.

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