If you think Residential Life’s housing system can get stressful these days, you would not have been pleased 18 years ago.

Sure, the lottery system can get under your skin, but imagine if you had to qualify for it. There was, indeed, a time when students were threatened with twice the stress: two lotteries. Before they could even worry about their drafted number in the main lottery, there would be a primary lottery to qualify for on campus housing.

In a January 30, 1992 issue of the Campus Times, a headline read ‘Class of 1994, 1995 to lose out in qualifying lottery.’

Apparently, the UR’s new initiative to enroll a larger pool of students resulted in a shortage of beds and crowded classrooms. Then-Director of Residential Life Logan Hazen estimated that there would be a shortage of 171 rooms for the 1992-93 school year. The situation wasn’t helped by the fact that Hoeing Hall was closed for renovations.
ResLife was left with no choice but to ration campus housing. A formula that weighed the ratio of a given class year to the entire student population would determine how many students from each class year qualified for housing.

Thus, students would have to go through a preliminary lottery system to qualify for the main lottery system that we have today.

The students that didn’t qualify for the lottery were simply out of luck and had to scramble for housing elsewhere.

Incoming freshmen and the rising senior class were exempt from the qualifier, since they signed a contract that guaranteed them housing before the plans for an exile were put into place.

But, this only left swarms of juniors and sophomores in disarray. The only ways that they would be exempt from the qualification lottery was for medical reasons provided by University Health Services, students studying abroad at the time or being a D’Lion.

However, D’Lions that performed poorly would lose one point in the main lottery.
Even under the system, the number of students living in crowded housing would double from 150 to 300 students. The burden would fall on the larger rooms in South Side Living Center, with doubles turning into triples.

While parents and some administrators argued for the exemption of female students and students who lived the farthest from Rochester, it seemed as if they were out of luck.

Just as I was ready to conclude that UR shafted its sophomore and junior class, I came across a March 5, 1992 issue that followed up on the whole situation. ‘Residential Life cancels qualifying lottery,’ it read.

Apparently, with 767 students who requested to live off campus, the expected 2,533 applicants came out to be 2,329. J.J. Reed reported that students were relieved they wouldn’t be forced to live in ‘an area of high crime rates.’ It looks like everyone got to live where they wanted to after all.

The moral of the story is when you complain about ResLife, remember there’s a a roof over your head that some members of the class of ’94 and ’95 might have been denied.

Nathaniel is a member of
the class of 2011.

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