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Columbia Spectator Staff

We've gotten a veritable avalanche of questions about this. A lot of it can't really be answered definitively, but what follows here is our best guess. The short answer: Not much. Relax!more What are they doing with those brownstones next year? Previously, Student Affairs said: "The rooms in the brownstones will become part of general assignment for the 2011-2012 academic year, after the undergraduate housing lottery takes place. (In other words, the rooms will not be included in the housing lottery for the upcoming year. Beyond that, it's simply too early to comment.)" Who's going to live there, then? According to a spokesperson from Student Affairs, the rooms "would first be assigned to individual students who are guaranteed housing but who were not part of the housing lottery system. This may have been for any number of reasons." What sort of reasons might those be? And again, who's actually going to live there? That's all we've got right now for official specifics. A decision on what to do with the brownstones naturally comes after a decision on the frats, so it seems like a detailed allocation of this space is up in the air and may be for some time. But there are a number of possibilities. The first thing that's important to remember is that Housing doesn't match the exact number of rooms it has to the exact number of students in the lottery. There's a great deal of flexibility built in to deal with necessary room transfers, unexpected yield rates, and the like. It doesn't appear that they're adding as many rooms this year via renovations or additional buildings as they did last year (when there were renovations to McBain and Ruggles, and the new brownstone on 113th) or the year before (Harmony). This might mean that they'll ultimately use this space to maintain the flexibility they were going to lose. They just aren't including these buildings in the initial lottery. They could hold the space for transfer students. Perhaps they'll grant additional special interest or disability housing requests. They may need extra rooms for students who plan to go abroad for fall semester but return next spring (who thus aren't eligible for the lottery). What then might this do to the lottery itself? Probably not much. Will there be a few extra students in the mix this year (either non-seniors being kicked out of their brownstones or those who were planning to move in there)? Probably. But there aren't really that many students that live in these places---15 or 20 apiece, maybe. So perhaps 50 or so extra entrants into the lottery, probably in groups to try to continue to live together. Does this hurt your odds a little bit if you're a group of six gunning for an EC townhouse? Maybe, but it's unlikely to be a huge difference. If you're worried and really want to be safe, go in as pairs---that hasn't changed. Plus, if other students are moved to these brownstones, that might offset whatever shift this causes. If you know more, feel free to let us know. Much more on dorms and housing rules coming in the run-up to Spring Break.

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