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Housing selection process complicated by new rules

This year's housing policy changes made the room selection process more complex for all students, including those returning to the University after studying abroad.

The housing selection process concluded last Friday, when rising sophomores who did not link to their designated West Campus dormitories or quadrangles chose their rooms for next year. Rising juniors and seniors were also encouraged to "quasi-link," whereby they would receive higher lottery numbers if they chose to return to the same quads they lived in this year.

"[The housing selection process] was made more complicated because students could return back to the same quads," said Bill Burig, assistant dean of residence life, adding that it was these students "who really want to return back to the same quad."

In addition, housing plan adjustments now enforce a policy that mandates students live on campus their first three years at the University. As a result, students coming back from studying abroad will need to apply for on-campus housing to fulfill the requisite three-year quota. However, housing officials admitted it will be increasingly difficult to meet these students' housing preferences with the enforcement of this rule and another policy guaranteeing all sophomores housing on West Campus.

"It is a problem to try to accommodate [study-abroad students'] preferences when they return. Most of them all want the same [locations]," Burig said. "The only places we can place those students is in vacancies due to natural attrition."

Burig explained that most students have inaccurately assumed that a certain number of dorm rooms has been left empty to provide students who study abroad with residential space when they return. However, he said dorm rooms only become available due to natural attrition, which occurs in situations when students graduate early, study abroad in the spring semester or transfer out of the University. "Zero beds are left aside," he said.

Unlike last year, Edens Quadrangle is already full with the closing of Trent Drive Hall and the number of rising sophomores. Burig said, however, that dorm rooms will be available for students returning in the spring semester because there is always some level of attrition at the end of a semester. And since students are required to live on campus their third year, juniors who decide to withdraw from the University will automatically free up rooms on campus.

Students studying abroad will submit housing preferences such as room type and roommates while away from Duke. Burig said assignments will be made based on seniority and availability.

"We assume roommate preferences have the greatest priority, even if it means placing [students] in less desirable outcomes," Burig said.

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