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Residence Life Assignments Office Rutgers Womens Basketball

Any undergraduate student who has lived on campus has experienced a process unique to Rutgers — the University's housing lottery system.

The lottery system is a tool used by Residence Life in order to determine where students will be living on-campus for the upcoming academic year. Some students see the implementation of the lottery system as helpful, while it has proven to be frustrating for others.

The system gives a seemingly random number to all students who apply, and then also takes into account seniority points to determine a continuing student’s on-campus housing assignment on a particular campus and dorm for the next academic year.

“A student’s lottery number is completely random,” said Alexandra Cupello Waters, the campus director of Residence Life on the College Avenue, Cook and Douglass campuses.

With a student body of more than 50,000 on the New Brunswick campus alone, as well as a high demand for on-campus housing, there is typically a large amount of lottery numbers distributed. 

The lower a student's lottery number is, the higher chance they have of obtaining their desired housing assignment.

But, if multiple students are paired together, the student in the group with the lowest number is used in determining housing for the entire group during the upcoming academic year.

“The process of the lottery is all done through Residence Life,” Waters said.

In addition to the random lottery numbers, seniority points also play a major factor in finding a housing assignment.

“As for a student’s lottery number, they are completely random. Seniority points are the other number involved, which are given by class year,” said Jason Hunt, the campus director of Residence Life on Livingston campus.

These points are assigned to students depending on their expected graduation year. With these points, older students, specifically upcoming juniors and seniors, are given higher priority for on-campus apartments. 

Incoming first-year and sophomore students are given higher priority for suites and doubles.

“The process has been developed so that seniority is factored in for juniors and seniors in apartments, but then flips over to reverse seniority to give rising sophomores a better chance at the suites and doubles,” Hunt said.

While some students have very few problems finding on-campus housing, the same cannot be said about everyone who has applied for the lottery. 

The Assignments Office in Residence Life is responsible for collecting applications and the housing selection process, said Jon Bouchard, the assistant director for Residence Life Administration.

A high lottery number should not discourage continuing students from finding their ideal on-campus housing assignment, as finding groups of multiple students, as well as seniority points, are all factored into the assigning process at Rutgers, he said.

If students are dissatisfied with their housing assignments for the upcoming school year, there is the option to request a room change or to swap room assignments with another student, he said.

“We work to establish deadlines and provide information to make the lottery accessible to all students,” Bouchard said.

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