Understanding Bryn Mawr’s Room Draw Tradition

Posted April 5th, 2012 at 4:59 pm.

The students who decorated this Erdman suite won a room-draw boost in the Project Dorm Room competition.

The students who decorated this Erdman suite won a room-draw boost in the Project Dorm Room competition.

April is a notoriously busy time for Bryn Mawr students. There are finals to prepare for, theses to be written, summer plans to be made. And for those returning to campus next fall, there’s a chance to snag that coveted single with a window seat overlooking the green—by negotiating room draw.

Room draw is the way returning students select their living quarters for the following year. The goal of room draw is to assign every student a room in a fair manner.

However, like most things at Bryn Mawr, it’s also a process steeped in tradition and full of quirks.

Room-Draw Archetypes: Which One Are You?

There’s the statistician who creates an algorithm to calculate her odds of landing a room in her favored dorm. There’s the strategist who parlays her miserable lottery number into a comfortable single by sussing out hall groups. There’s the obsessively scrupulous proxy for a student who’s spending the semester abroad … Read the story to find the BMC room-draw archetype that best describes you»

Outcomes are determined by the availability of spaces, demand for each of the residence halls, class size, and the assignment of a random, computer-generated priority number to each student (there are a few exceptions to the randomness of the lottery, including students who have won high priority numbers as a result of promotions like Project Dorm Room). On dorm-draw night, students flood Thomas Great Hall armed with their priority numbers, class years, and whatever strategies they’ve devised to choose their dream rooms. Priority numbers are called, starting with the rising senior class and proceeding to juniors and finally sophomores. As dorms start to close, the tension begins to build in the room.

Bryn Mawr’s dorm-selection process for next year began April 4 with apartment, hall-group, and multiple-occupancy draws. Next is dorm draw, held April 10 for rising seniors and juniors and April 11 for rising sophomores. The last of the draws is room selection itself, which will be held April 17.

Following room draw is a three-day period in which each student can trade rooms with another same-year student. Room trade begins April 18 and ends April 23.

“The Room Draw system here at Bryn Mawr was developed as part the self-governance system and that is still the case through Residence Council.  Students at a lot of other schools don’t necessarily have the opportunity to choose where they live, nor do they have the ability to create, change, and implement their own housing-selection process each year,” says Residential Life Director Angie Sheets. “As stressful as room draw feels at times, students feel wedded to it.  It’s part of Bryn Mawr’s culture.”

Below are some of the quirks that set Bryn Mawr’s room draw process apart from what happens at most colleges:

  • Residential Life sets class-year quotas for each residence hall. These quotas prevent a single class from taking over a dorm and encourage students to interact between class years. However, class quotas limit the number of spaces available in each dorm for each student within a given class year.
  • Sophomores who have lower numbers, and those who value friendship over room size, are encouraged to take part in hall groups—clusters of rooms that are assigned to groups of students—or choose multiple-occupancy rooms.
  • With the exceptions of Haffner and Erdman, most residence halls at Bryn Mawr don’t have “standard” rooms. Within a given residence hall, rooms range in size and amenities, as some include fireplaces and even double doors. There is also an abundance of single rooms on campus.
Filed under: campus/physical plant,Students Tags: , , by Tracy Kellmer

Comments are closed.