By Russell Booth
At the end of each spring semester, college students must find a place to live for the next term. At Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, students must sign up for a lottery number on the housing website. The web address is housing.Rutgers.edu. According to the housing office and website, this is a fair solution to figure out where students will live for the fall semester. Yet, many undergraduate students detest this lottery.
There are five campuses that host for student dorms. The five campuses are Cook/Douglas Campus, Livingston Campus, College Ave Campus, and Busch Campus. There are currently 40 housing units on campus. Towards the end of the year, students apply for a lottery number, and depending on how low the number is, they could possibly live in the on-campus suites or apartments. The numbers range from one to 10,000. The best number to get is a lower number. All undergraduates with the lower lottery number are capable of living wherever they please. Civil Engineer student Gary White, 21, said, “It should be chosen based on year. People have good lottery numbers and are not old enough to live at certain places they are eligible for.” This is also another major problem with housing on campus. There is a year requirement to live in certain suites across the university. Although a sophomore may receive a low lottery number, he will not have enough credits to park his car in the suite parking lot. A 21-year-old junior, Monique Williams exclaimed, “Housing should be done by seniority.” The way the lottery is set up, any sophomore, junior, or senior could possibly be left to live in a freshman dorm.
The housing process at the University has received much criticism from the undergraduates. The number of students that entered Rutgers over the past two years has been so high that there are not enough dormitories for them to live in. This drastic inflow of incoming freshmen caused Rutgers University to reach out to hotels to accommodate those who were unfortunate enough to receive a high lottery number. The major issue that those living in the hotel have to face is the commute. The Holiday Inn hotel, for instance is located about twenty minutes away from the University, but the shuttles that run from the hotel to campus only come around every thirty minutes. Any student that gets out of class and misses the shuttle must wait thirty minutes for the next one.
However, the University is currently trying to solve the overcrowding problem by informing upperclassmen of off campus housing and also building new dorms on both Livingston and Busch campus.
Over the past two years, many upperclassmen have decided to move off campus rather than apply for a lottery number. The Rutgers housing website on also offers a link that shows all houses and apartments that are available to rent off campus. These off-campus homes are cheaper than living in the dormitories when including utilities. As more upperclassmen decide to move off campus, more dorms open up for incoming freshmen. Rutgers uses the off-campus housing as a way to limit the number of upper classmen that live in dorms. There are also negative aspects that college students must face when living off campus. Landlords are able to increase the rent from 2.5% to 5%, according to one Rutgers University student. It is vital for all the residents of the off-campus housing to have money to pay for cable, phone, Internet access, and food. These facts still do not deter college students from renting apartments and homes off campus, because most of them would rather live on their own rather than rely on the arbitrary lottery numbers given out by the housing department.
Despite the large number of students who have great disdain for the lottery numbers, some feel that it is unbiased. Dom Pickett a 22-year-old senior stated, “I don’t like the lottery, but doing it by seniority would mean that the incoming freshmen would not have any housing.” This statement does hold some validity, because if given the option the upper-classmen would chose to live in dorms and suites, leaving the hotels for the freshmen. The housing department feels that seniority is too biased and unfair for incoming students. So housing lottery remains a controversial, unresolved issue among Rutgers students.
Russell Booth is a junior at Rutgers University. He is majoring in Journalism and Media studies and has an American Studies minor. After college, Russell plans to write for film magazines.