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Student Assembly’s Housing Lottery Reform

02/14/2010

Three resolutions passed unanimously by the Student Assembly in the fall of 2009 were accepted by President Skorton on 2/9/2010 and will be fully implemented over the next two years.

The first resolution that we passed unanimously recommended the creation of an in-house lottery system for Collegetown residences, including Sheldon Court and Cascadilla. The system that used to be in place gave an extra advantage to students who lived in West Campus dorms, since they had two opportunities to win the room lottery. As current Collegetown residents know, Campus Life promptly acted on our recommendation and has already implemented that system for this year.

The second resolution called for asking Campus Life to release more information about previous lotteries and room availability, including a distribution of beds across buildings and class years. After speaking to many students, a major concern that the SA’s Residence and Community Life Committee heard was that there was a broad sense of uncertainty regarding the whole housing lottery process. President Skorton replied that Campus Life supported this resolution and that they have acted on our request. Representatives from Campus Life are scheduled to appear at a coming Student Assembly meeting to answer student questions about their distribution of the requested information.

Finally, the third resolution passed unanimously by the SA called for a reordering of classes in the Spring 2011 lottery. In other words, rising sophomores would get the first opportunity to select rooms, instead of rising seniors. This is a major change to the process and was the product of extensive discussions between the SA and community members. Based on feedback from President Skorton regarding the timing of this resolution, the Assembly concluded that it was in the best interest of undergraduate students that this change be implemented for the following year’s lottery cycle.

All three resolutions were the result of hard work both by the Student Assembly and members of the SA Residence and Community Life Committee, which is comprised of community members and representatives from the Residential Student Congress, IFC, and PanHel. Feedback was solicited during the formation of these proposals from Campus Life administrators and the Campus Life Student Advisory Committee. After initial concerns raised by President Skorton, the SA revised the original resolutions to ensure a process that was in the best interest of both undergraduate students and Cornell University.

I am very proud of the hard work of members of the Student Assembly in drafting and passing these three major proposals, which will both improve the on-campus housing lottery system and reduce pressure for students to sign leases early in the fall semester for off-campus houses. In approving all three resolutions, President Skorton made the right decision. This project was a model example of the SA being responsive to student concerns and working with administrators to get real change at Cornell that will benefit undergraduates. The SA looks forward to working with Campus Life to ensure the effective implementation of these proposals.

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