Debunking Housing Myths: A Guide to Fall 2023 Housing Selection

On Tuesday, April 11, Swarthmore Housing informed students that the room selection process for Fall 2023 is underway. The announcement came in an email to students and outlined several steps, including roommate selection, pre-selection, and the housing lottery, as well as changes from previous academic years. 

The housing lottery process will begin on Monday, April 24, and continue through Wednesday, April 26. Pre-selection for students with disability accommodations will take place on Friday, April 21. In an interview with The Phoenix, Director of Residential Communities Amanda Atkinson described the new housing selection process.

“​​Our housing system will randomly assign [students] a number and then match that number with a time. The time a student receives is when they will select a room. A new lottery number is active to pick a room every two minutes. In real terms, this means that if the lottery is scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m. and your selection time is 4:46 p.m., you can deduce there are 23 people in front of you. If your time is 6:30 p.m., there are 75 people in front of you,” she explained. 

For students that matched with a roommate, the earlier of either time is used to select a room. Atkinson also mentioned that 50 rising sophomores with the last random times will not be choosing their rooms until the summer to accommodate the incoming class of 2027.

When selecting their dorms, Atkinson suggested that students keep an open mind. If a specific type of room is a priority, then look into multiple dorms instead of just one. Atkinson also encouraged people not to discount Mary Lyons (ML), especially since rising sophomores have the best chance of getting a single if they stay at ML.

Housing accommodations are handled by Student Disability Services on a case-by-case basis. Those who met the February deadline to request new accommodations are able to participate in an earlier room selection, but those who did not may face some difficulty. Atkinson described how she handles special requests not related to disability. 

“Students seeking special consideration based on their religion or gender can talk with me about their needs. These aren’t considered accommodations as they are not related to a disability. I first speak with the student to get an idea of what the specific request is. At times, I’ve worked with folks in the Interfaith Center to better understand the request,” she explained. “For example, a student who gets up in the middle of the night to pray could pray in a space outside of their room, could have a roommate who also gets up to pray, or could have a roommate who can sleep through anything.”

Former Resident Assistant Sara Yun ’23 recommended requesting accommodations if you have proof of disability because they are likely to be given to students if they have a reasonable request.  

“If you have any accommodations but you’re not completely sure [if you should use them], you should put it down. Sometimes the dorms are not the most accommodating; there will be pests and mold. So, if you have certain allergies just be mindful of that. Push forward and you will definitely get a better dorm,” she advised. 

During the Fall 2022 semester, Rushil Patel ’24 moved out of Wharton Hall because of mold growth in his room.

“I stayed in Wharton EF last fall but kept getting sick because there was most likely mold in my room. So, I had to reach out to housing, and eventually, they gave me a single in Alice Paul. I had to move everything out during exam season, which was not great, but I got a much better room. Aside from the mold, I really liked Wharton,” Patel recounted. 

One housing policy that is different from previous years is the ability to “block” in certain dorms. Blocking is for students who want to live with a large group of friends. In previous years, students were permitted to block in most campus dormitories, including Wharton, Mertz, and Alice Paul. This year, Atkinson explained, fewer students will be able to block in order to allow more upperclassmen to receive singles. 

“Blocking will continue to be part of the housing selection process. Based on student feedback, we are reducing the number of rooms available to block. Some students let us know they felt blocking prevented them from getting a single as a junior. Blocking will be limited to some of the NPPR apartments (for rising seniors only) and other select multi-room units in Pittenger and Roberts such as three-room quints,” she said. 

Atkinson suggested that students interested in getting a single look at housing statistics from the Fall 2022 semester to gauge their likelihood of attaining it. This data is available on the Fall 2023 web page. The statistics highlight the breakdown of class years in each residence hall from the Fall 2022 semester.   

Last night, on Wednesday, April 19, Swarthmore Housing organized a “Find Your Perfect Match” event in Science Center Room 204, giving an opportunity for students who wanted a roommate to find one.

Atkinson also shared the new rule for air conditioning (AC). Last fall, only students who had accommodations for AC had cooling in their rooms. For example, residents in Mertz Hall only had access to AC in their rooms if they had an accommodation. However, after a recent discussion between campus partners, the housing team decided that it made sense to turn on AC in all AC-capable buildings during the cooling season.

Each dorm has a variety of bathroom types — for women, men, and all genders. Unless a student chooses to live in a single-gender space, they will have access to all of these. However, some students may need to walk to the end of the hallway or across a flight of stairs to get to a bathroom that fits their needs. 

Abel Zeng ’23, who is the current RA for David Kemp’s third floor, said that she asked her residents about which type of bathroom they would prefer. 

“The restrooms on David Kemp’s third floor are gender-neutral. And at the beginning of the year, I sent a Google Form to ask people if they were okay with that. I think the policy is that in each dorm there is at least one bathroom that is gendered and another that is gender-neutral, and then RAs can adjust that,” she said.

For incoming first-years, the housing selection process works a little differently. Students fill out a form and then the Area Coordinators match them with a roommate. Atkinson emphasized that the system works well as long as students are honest about their habits. 

“As long as the forms are filled out in an honest way by the incoming students, the matches generally are a good connection. Sometimes the matches don’t work because maybe a parent filled out the form or simply because a student’s lifestyle in high school is different in college, but if the student is honest in their representation, it’s a good system.”

1 Comment

  1. That Amanda person – or whatever her name is – is such a racist individual in my opinion. I genuinely have heard so many horror stories from every student of color that approached her and experienced so many microaggressions and demeaning comments. This individual is simply inapproachable if you are a slightest shade darker than pasty white

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