Thursday, March 29, 2012

Oh, Room Picks

For those of you who do not know, the season in which we currently live, in addition to being allergy season, women's basketball season (go Irish), and "spring," is room pick season. This peculiar process, in which a series of randomly assigned lottery numbers determines the order in which residents get to bicker over closet-sized rooms to live in for the next year, is generally regarded as the most stressful thing to hit Notre Dame each year since - well, since the last dorm dance. Howard Hall is currently right at the start of its room pick process, and unsurprisingly, it promises to be the death of us all. In the post that follows, I will explain why it is that room picks are so horribly horrible.

First, there's the inevitable controversy over the workings of the whole system. The idea of randomly assigned lottery numbers determining where one is to live is rightfully terrifying. Once the numbers actually go up, however, terror almost inevitably morphs into rage. This year, for instance, in a move that I'm sure everyone has discovered by now, our hall co-presidents ended up with lottery numbers 1 and 2 for the rising junior class. While I haven't actually heard anyone say it, I'm sure at least a few people are less than pleased about this odd coincidence. (Let it be known that I am pick #4, so I could care less who the three people are ahead of me, because there are about a million people behind me, which sucks for them, but luckily I don't care.) Other people may be angered by a repeat appearance of a low room-pick number in back-to-back years, because this is simply not fair. When not fuming over the lottery policies of ResLife, students can also complain of the choices of hall staff as to which rooms are for freshmen and which are not. Admittedly, I was puzzled by some of these choices this year, particularly when I discovered that the tiny closet of a room that earned me so many "well, you know freshman year dorm life is rough"s last year is now going to be an upperclassman room.

Then there's the truest, cruelest room pick drama - who goes where. Each friend group has to decide who's lucky enough to live with or near them, where they want to be, what kind of rooms they want, and what floor they want, among other things. Once those are decided, there's the rest of the dorm to grapple with - what if this friend group wants the triple we want? We'll have to move to those neighboring doubles. But what if someone wants those? IT NEVER STOPS. The head staff in Howard attempted to alleviate some of this chaos by setting out floor plans on which we could make our "mock picks." In theory, this is a wonderful idea.

In practice, it is transforming this dorm into full-tilt jungle madness. (And it isn't going away.) In order for each grade of girls to pick their rooms with any certainty, the class above them has to choose theirs. This has, so far, not been working too well, since most of the seniors have yet to stake their claims to rooms. Ideally, anyone could put their number down on any room in the dorm (personally, I'm leaning toward claiming the chapel as my room - biggest single on campus, here I come!!). The rules, however, also allow for anyone to boot anyone else off a room if their lottery number is higher than the original claimant's. Though mock picks are completely unofficial and mean essentially nothing, this policy is pretty brutal. When you consider how few options we have in Howard this year, it becomes even worse. At my last count, there are nine doubles and three triples available for non-freshmen in Howard next year. Total. Of the entire sophomore, junior, and senior population of Howard next year, there will only be 27 girls in anything but single rooms. Luckily for me, I'm mildly self-obsessed and don't play well with others, so I'm quite content with the single I am likely to end up with. For normal people, though, this is pretty troublesome.

A report I heard from one of my friends in another dorm put it best. After the hall staff closed a room-picks email with "May the odds be ever in your favor" and the expected room-pick chaos ensued, someone said, "My God, we did not mean for you to actually go all Hunger Games on it!" For, when you think about it, room picks really do not matter that much to anything. Most of the rising junior class is only going to have to live in their rooms for a semester anyway before setting off to live in a foreign country for half the year. Beyond that, I think that the hours we spend hunched over the floor plans, plotting and sabotaging, blur our recollection of the actual size of this dorm. Howard is one building. One small building. No matter where you live in this dorm, you will be no more than a thirty-second walk from anyone else. So ultimately, room pick drama is fairly pointless.

With that in mind, there's only one thing left to say, namely: if you keep me from living close to my friends on the second floor where I hardly have to go up any stairs, I WILL CUT YOU. See you at room picks!

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