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Randomization Likely in 1996

Jewett Indicates Support for Changes

By Sarah J. Schaffer

Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 indicated yesterday that he will randomize the housing lottery for the class of 1999.

Although Jewett would not say what his decision will be, he strongly hinted that he was tending toward making the change.

"Historically, I've leaned more toward randomization policies than to choice policies," Jewett said.

His statement came at the end of yesterday's joint committee meeting of the Committee on House Life and the Committee on College Life.

Jewett said he will make a final decision within a few weeks.

The majority of house masters have indicated to Jewett that they support complete randomization. Some students at yesterday's meeting, however, said they prefer the current system.

Jewett said that he would have to think carefully about points raised during the meeting's hour-long discussion on the pros and cons of different housing systems before making his decision.

"I thought people were very thoughtful about what they said," Jewett said. "It would be an easy decision if everything pointed in one direction. I'll do what I think is best."

He will make the decision soon, he said, because he wants to let the incoming class of first-year students know what their housing lottery fate will be.

Jewett added that whatever decision he makes could be quickly overturned when the incoming Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 takes over July 1.

"None of these things are irrevocable," Jewett said.

Lewis reiterated last night in an interview his stance in favor of randomization. Lewis also co-authored the Report on the Structure of Harvard College, which urges complete randomization.

Different Definitions

The discussion at yesterday's meeting focused on four different options: preserving the status quo of non-ordered choice with four houses; raising the number of houses first-years can request from four to six; completely randomizing first-years into houses at the end of their first year; or placing first-years into houses before they come to Harvard (as Yale University has done for years).

There was no clear majority in favor of any one option.

Undergraduate Council representative Randall A. Fine '96, who brought up the Yale option, said he was surprised at the response.

"I really was surprised at the amount of sympathy that was expressed for the plan," Fine said. "It immediately took on the characterization of an actual option."

"If students didn't know that they had to worry about where they live, they wouldn't worry about it," Fine said.

The Yale system assigns first-years to dormitories in the Old Yard; each dorm corresponds to an upper-class house. If students form sophomore rooming groups from more than one dorm, the group is randomly assigned to one of the students' houses.

At the meeting, one of the problems raised with a Yale-style plan was that students might not easily be able to form blocking groups across different dorms.

The meeting served more as an airing of opinion for Jewett's benefit than as a definitive statement on randomization.

Other issues raised in relation to the housing lottery included the question of adequate representation of various groups in each house under the current system and the possibility of moving the date of the housing lottery to early February. Currently, Harvard students learn their housingfate in April.

Also discussed at the meeting was modifying theinter-house transfer policy to make it easier forrooming groups to transfer together or, ifrandomization is implemented, to accommodate forthe lack of choice in first-year housing by makingtransfers less difficult.

Party Policies

Also proposed was a suggestion to change theCollege's policy on parties where alcohol isserved. Currently, only members of the house andinvited guests may attend a house party thatserves alcohol, and the party may only beadvertised in the house where it is held.

The masters at the meeting were amenable to theidea of allowing more joint-house parties wherealcohol is served, either at the house master's orthe dean of student's discretion

Also discussed at the meeting was modifying theinter-house transfer policy to make it easier forrooming groups to transfer together or, ifrandomization is implemented, to accommodate forthe lack of choice in first-year housing by makingtransfers less difficult.

Party Policies

Also proposed was a suggestion to change theCollege's policy on parties where alcohol isserved. Currently, only members of the house andinvited guests may attend a house party thatserves alcohol, and the party may only beadvertised in the house where it is held.

The masters at the meeting were amenable to theidea of allowing more joint-house parties wherealcohol is served, either at the house master's orthe dean of student's discretion

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