The number of upperclassmen applying to live in on-campus residence halls is on the rise.
At Lehigh, it is mandatory for students to live in on-campus facilities during their freshmen and sophomore years—whether that be a residence hall or Greek chapter house. In the past, the housing lottery was reserved for students who were not involved in Greek life and did not have the option of living in a Greek house as an upperclassman.
However, within the last two years, residential services has opened up the housing lottery to juniors and seniors in Greek life that lived in a chapter house during their sophomore year. This change was due to over-occupancy in several Greek chapter houses.
This year’s housing lottery opened Feb. 16.
Dara Lakin, ’17, a member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, said that the housing lottery has become an attractive option to her and other members of her house as they look toward their junior year.
“This year, with the new member classes being so big, our house only had a few spots open for rising juniors,” she said. “So, instead of worrying whether or not we would get spots in the house, my friends and I decided that it would be safer to register for the housing lottery.”
Christina D’Aversa, the associate director of residential services, said that only certain Greek houses are able to apply to the housing lottery.
“The policy is, rising juniors and seniors in Greek houses that are going to be over occupied in the fall, based on projected numbers from recruitment, can sign up,” she said. “Not every Greek house has eligibility.”
D’Aversa explained that in the past, some Greek members did not have the option of living on campus their junior or senior year even if there was a large influx of new members.
Now, the amount of people by which the chapter would be over-occupied determines how many chapter members are allowed to participate in the housing lottery.
This year, there are going to be about 400 spots available to upperclassmen applying to the lottery, which is an increase from the 388 spots last year. D’Aversa said that this year there was a decrease in special interest housing, which has allowed for more residential spaces for the lottery.
D’Aversa also said that as of Sunday morning, 444 students had registered for the lottery.
“That number will drop because of financials, or they change their mind and signed something off-campus, or sometimes they see their lottery number and don’t think they will get housing,” she said, “so they don’t do anything further.”
Based on how the lottery numbers have fluctuated in the past, D’Aversa anticipates that between 30 and 40 students will drop out before contracts are signed.
With the housing lottery, there is a $400 deposit or payment commitment form that needs to be submitted. Students that are on the educational commitment plan, or with financial aid packages, can sign a payment commitment form. This means that they don’t have to pay the $400 upfront.
“The goal of the deposit is to commit students to wanting to live on campus,” D’Avera said.
If residential services does not offer a student a housing option in the lottery, that student receives their $400 deposit back. If a student signs a contract with residential services, looks at the remaining housing options and decides to forego the process, that student will lose $50 of their deposit. If residential services offers a student housing and that student signs a contract, they are eligible to lose the full $400 deposit.
Chloe Stein, ’17, a member of Zeta Tau Alpha, is living in Campus Square next year through the housing lottery.
“I’d definitely recommend the housing lottery,” she said. “It’s a nice alternative to living off-campus. You know that Lehigh will fix anything that breaks, and the facilities are all really nice.”
Lakin said she and her roommates did consider living off-campus, but ultimately, the housing lottery was their best option.
“My friends and I toured some off campus houses, however since it was pretty late when we did this, the only options available were too expensive,” she said. “We decided to stay on campus for next year. I am very happy with my decision to participate in the housing lottery, and I’m excited to see what it’s like to live in an upperclassmen residential hall.”