Campus North Residents Speak on Housing Lottery Issues

“The point isn’t that we’re in North; the point is that we’re being kicked out of a community that we’ve built.”


Looking north from 55th Street at Hyde Park and the South Side, with the Loop in the distance.

By Katherine Weaver

Last quarter, students had the opportunity to participate in the House Lottery, the part of UChicago Housing and Residence Life’s annual room selection process in which students have the opportunity to choose a room within the house they currently live in. However, many residents of Campus North Residential Commons experienced difficulties securing a room in their current houses, and some were pushed out of the dormitory entirely.

In the House Lottery, students are allowed to choose a space in their current house before it opens to the rest of the student body for the General Lottery. Priority is further determined within each lottery through time slots—each student or roommate group is given a date and time in which to choose their room. Earlier time slots are usually allocated to upperclassmen, but assignment within class years is randomized.

First-year Dariel Cruz Rodriguez is one of several current residents of Campus North Residential Commons’s Dougan-Niklason House, affectionately known as “D-Nik” to residents. His roommate group received the 1:10 p.m. time slot and quickly noticed that the lottery was not turning out as expected. With time slots assigned every 10 minutes throughout the day, students with later time slots still expected to have options in their original house, even though those choices may be limited to the less desired rooms.

“By the time we had reached our time slot, all the singles were filled, all apartments were too, though we expected that already. There were only about eight doubles left by the time we were done with the housing lottery, and many of our friends in our group had gotten time slots for things like 2:20 and 3:00,” Cruz Rodriguez said in an interview with The Maroon.

“Everybody was super stressed by the fact that they likely won’t have a dorm assignment and everybody, including those that got a room, was really upset that half of our house pretty much got booted,” he said. “The house events aren’t what makes the house—it’s the people—and so there was kind of a sense of sadness and frustration that people who called this their house for the past year won’t be able to return, especially since admissions advertised it as a thing that is for your entire college career.”

The high competition for a limited number of rooms in each house prevented a large proportion of students from remaining in their current houses. Usually, this is offset by some current residents moving off campus or into other houses, but this year that appeared not to be the case.

First-year Aryan Shrivastava, another resident of Dougan-Niklason House, spoke with The Maroon about his roommate group being unable to continue living in their current house post-lottery.

“We got the 2:30 time slot, which doesn’t seem that bad, but we were watching the room selection, and as time went on, more and more rooms were taken off. So eventually, when it came to our time slot, there were only two spots left in the whole house for students, and because we had a group of four, we weren’t able to put everyone in a slot, so we ultimately all had to sacrifice our house position,” Shrivastava said. “I was talking to some upperclassmen, and it usually never fills up this fast. I know some other houses in North got filled up by 1:00 or 1:30.”

The issue seemed to be limited to Campus North—students in other residence halls generally reported no unusual issues in room selection, nor a large influx of upperclassmen from other dorms. Shrivastava speculated that this is because of Campus North’s location and facilities, and credited the overpopulation to students “pulling in” students from other residence halls.

Shrivastava echoed Rodriguez’s sentiments on the housing process. “I completely understand allowing people to pull other people in because they want to be with their friends. But if the priority is to build a community and diversify experiences, diversify perspectives by randomly putting people into a community first year, and that going well—I feel like we had built such a tight community here in my house—and then throwing that away in favor of something that doesn’t really align with their goals just doesn’t seem right to me.”

“You’re making us live here [for] two years, trying to build a community. And then when you make policy that doesn’t prioritize that, it just seems really contradictory and paradoxical,” he continued. “The point isn’t that we’re in North; the point is that we’re being kicked out of a community that we’ve built.”

Current Campus North residents received an email from Executive Director of Housing & Residence Life David Hibbler, Jr., on March 7, almost two weeks after the North lottery closed.

“Housing & Residence Life (HRL) is aware that some students were unable to select their current House for the 2023-24 academic year after participating in their recent House Lottery,” the email begins. “We regret that not every student has been able to return to their House, and we understand that impacted students may be feeling distressed and unsatisfied with their housing situation.”

“We also recognize that this system has its constraints. However, changing the House Lottery process while it is underway would undermine its integrity and result in a greater number of disappointed students. Most students have been able to return to their current House if they chose to do so.”

The email concludes with encouragement for students to participate in the General Lottery and join the Summer Waitlist starting April 3 as well as the promise of an assessment of the housing process with “various stakeholders” during the coming months.