Editorial: Changes to lottery system are welcome but insufficient

On Nov. 28, 2018 ResLife announced a number of changes to the lottery system, changing the application process for Tufts housing. While the changes to the lottery system make it fairer and less stressful, Tufts should be doing much more in order to make it easier for students to live on campus.

For groups applying to suites and apartments, lottery numbers will no longer be averaged to determine selection order. Groups will now receive one lottery number. This change is welcome, as it would mitigate the phenomenon of students with lower lottery numbers getting cut out of housing arrangements, making it easier for them to live with their friends.

The second policy change pushes up due dates for special interest housing applications to a date before lottery numbers get assigned. This makes sure that students applying for special interest housing have a genuine interest in living there rather than applying for the spots motivated by convenience. By ensuring that residents are passionate about the communities and ideas their houses represent, special interest housing will become more community-oriented.

Despite these beneficial changes, on-campus housing remains inaccessible to many students, especially upperclassmen. The new tiered housing system being implemented this year makes housing less affordable overall. With tiered housing, most housing units will increase dramatically in price, while first-year housing and normal doubles, triples and quads will experience moderate increases. This change hurts students as higher prices deter students from living in particular dorms. With off-campus housing prices in the area significantly higher than state and national averages, enrollment increasing and on-campus costs skyrocketing, upperclassmen are now faced with dwindling options. While Tufts has added some beds through the new CoHo option and by turning doubles into triples, these policies will continue to be outpaced by the administration’s lofty plans to increase enrollment. CoHo’s development also displaced tenants, including faculty and staff, from houses owned by the university, in a blow to the character of local neighborhoods.

The housing crisis at Tufts is no small matter. Far too many students have trouble finding housing that is affordable, safe and close to campus, and this will only get worse with the imminent Green Line extension. While the changes in the lottery system are sure to benefit students, especially those who live in special interest housing or with lower lottery numbers, the university has a duty to ensure housing is affordable and accessible to all students, and that decisions about housing are made transparently and with public input.


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