Implementing students’ ideas to improve room-assignments and move-in

May 9, 2019
Cynthia Barnhart, Chancellor, 2014–2021 | Suzy M. Nelson, Vice President and Dean for Student Life, 2016–2021 |

Dear students,

With the end of the semester nearing, we write to close the loop from our February email, and to thank all of the students who came up with thoughtful ideas for improving the move-in experience and mitigating first-year students’ sense of rejection and undue stress. If you want to learn more about what prompted this work, or how the workshop went, please read this 3Q or connect with your house’s student leaders or house team members.

We understand that this work has been challenging and time-intensive. It has been the same for us. Students made all the difference in this process, though, and we could not have generated so many creative ways to approach this challenge without their hard work.


Every house’s solution to the concerns we’ve been discussing is unique, and each house is finalizing their action implementation plan for making positive change to their process in the fall. Later this summer, we will post each community’s individual plan to the website where we have been documenting this process. For now, we want to share a high-level overview of how houses will align their room-assignment practices with these principles:

  • For communities that require exploration, first-year students may opt out of exploration and required moves if they are unduly stressed or overwhelmed;
  • New students’ preferences will be used to make room assignments, and houses will remove from their processes steps that allow upper-level students to rank or pick students to live on their floor or entryway;
  • Every community will have principles that guide their room-assignment decisions. These principles—aimed at achieving the overarching goal of maximizing all students’ happiness and satisfaction through a fair and transparent process—will underscore that housing decisions are based on non-personal factors including available space, gender balance, and students’ housing preferences, such as sleep schedules, study habits, quiet/social floors, and cooking commitments.
  • Communication will be enhanced across the board so that first-year students and their families are more informed about a community’s traditions, norms, room-assignment process, and move-in expectations; and
  • This is not the end of this process. DSL will partner with students next academic year to determine how things are going. We want to ensure new practices are having the intended positive impact and that they adhere to the agreed-upon principles. We will work with each house to make adjustments and improvements where necessary over the coming years.


Many voices have been heard as each house set about designing their updated move-in and room-assignments process. Thank you to all who lent their energy and time to creating a more positive and welcoming experience for all of our students.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us or members of your house exec or house team.


Cynthia Barnhart, Chancellor
Suzy M. Nelson, Vice President and Dean for Student Life