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Room assignments - FAQ

1 Entering the lottery

1.1 Do I have to enter the lottery?

No. Only if you want to change rooms. If you want to stay in your current room, do not enter. The only (rare) exception is incoming officers accepted from outside Ashdown, who must enter the lottery and preference every room in some order in order to truly be guaranteed housing.

1.2 The lottery entry form does not load for me.

Please ensure that you are using a certificate-capable browser (such as Firefox or IE) and have an updated MIT Certificate installed.

1.3 The lottery algorithm is too complicated to think about. What should I do?

The lottery algorithm is designed to make your best strategy as simple as possible: to rank all rooms in Ashdown, that you would be willing to live in over your current room, in the order that you prefer them from most preferred to least preferred. Do not list rooms you would prefer less than your current room. If you don't get moved in the lottery, you will get to stay in your current room anyway. No other strategy can give you a higher utility in this lottery.

1.4 Why do I have to rank all the rooms? Can't I just rank the vacant ones?

You can, but others may enter the lottery to move into the vacant ones (especially those with higher seniority than you) and their rooms may become vacant, and if their old rooms are preferred by you, you could then take them, so you would miss this opportunity if you didn't list them. If you're unhappy with your room, consider taking the time to preference all rooms you would potentially like in Ashdown once and for all, saving it on your computer, and submitting that list for every lottery.

1.5 What if I get a room that I do not like?

Too bad! -- Please do NOT list rooms that you would not be willing to live in, in your preferences. ONLY rank rooms that you would live in above your current room. If we can't move you to a room from your list, you will keep your current room; you have nothing to lose that way.

1.6 Can I withdraw or modify my lottery application?

You can withdraw your application from the lottery, or submit an updated list BEFORE the lottery deadline. To withdraw simply re-submit with a blank preference list and clear any stapling groups you joined. After the lottery deadline, all applications are final and if you get reassigned, you MUST move on the move date, which is dependent on the room but typically within 3-4 weeks of the lottery.

1.7 Will my rent change?

MIT Housing will be notified of the lottery results and they will send confirmation notices directly. If you move to a different type of room, your rent will change. The current price of each type of room can be found at the MIT Housing page on Ashdown. You should not list rooms that you are not willing to live in, in your preferences (including rooms that are too expensive for you). It is your responsibility to ensure that your list reflects your willingness to live in those rooms.

2 Making decisions

2.1 Which has a kitchen, 3-bedroom or 3-bedroom suite?

"3-bedroom suite" has no kitchen and no living room; "3-bedroom" has a kitchen, living room, provided common refrigerator and the rent is higher.

2.2 Can I visit rooms to see what they look like?

If you personally know the current residents, you can of course contact them as friends and visit them and check out the suite. However, since most rooms are occupied until close to the move date itself (and not yet), nobody other than the current resident can let you in to see the room. In short, you're more or less on your own to visit rooms; we unfortunately can't facilitate visits or contact people for you, and this would bother too many current residents if we did this.

2.3 Can I at least get data about rooms?

Yes, we have floorplans as well as square-footage charts available on the Room info page.

2.4 There are too many rooms! Is there any easier way?

Unfortunately not yet. You can try your chances at only listing the known vacant rooms that you prefer, but other rooms will open up as well as people move to the vacant ones. We are, however, working on developing a tool similar to the "Damien's ranking tool" that old W1 veterans might be familiar with, that will help you automatically rank rooms in Ashdown based on your weights to factors such as size, location, noise, proximity to kitchens, and so on. For now (and always) you can still always rank the rooms yourself.

3 Special requests

3.1 Can I make a request to live with a particular person?

Yes, stapling is our mechanism for doing this.

3.2 I strongly prefer a male-only or female-only accomodation. What can I do?

Ashdown is a gender inclusive dorm and unless you are granted special circumstances or live in one of the few designated single-sex suites, any vacancies may be filled by incoming residents of any gender. However, as long as you don't necessarily require it, we have a few suggestions to use the lottery algorithm to your advantage:
  • Consider stapling with friends of the same gender and preferencing as many suites as possible so you get in somewhere as a stapled group.
  • Give a higher preference to rooms in suites with others of the same gender (if those others aren't planning to enter the lottery themselves). These may be known vacancies that we publish the genders of the current suitemates, or suites with people you happen to know.
  • Preference the single-sex suites (see next question) high on your list, in case a vacancy opens up there.
  • Once moved, keep in touch with your suitemates, and ensure that if one of them moves out, that you enter the subsequent lottery to try to "staple in" a friend of the same gender into that vacancy. If you're in one of the few single-sex suites, you don't need to worry about this.
  • Consider efficiency apartments.
While it's not 100% guaranteed, it's extremely likely that you'll end up with a single-gender arrangement if you follow the above steps. Ashdown has no shared-bedroom accomodations and each room has its own individual lock and key, so if you are in a not placed in a single-gender accomodation, you would only be sharing a bathroom, kitchen (if applicable to your suite) and common area.

3.3 I require a male-only or female-only accomodation for a religious or ethical belief. Can you make special arrangements?

A few suites are designated single-sex. These are:
1018A(M) 1018B(M) 2004A(F) 2004B(F) 2004C(F) 2018A(F) 2018B(F) 3004A(F) 3004B(F) 3005A(M) 3005B(M) 3005C(M) 3007A(F) 3007B(F) 3007C(F) 3023A(F) 3023B(F) 3023C(F) 3026A(F) 3026B(F) 3026C(F) 3027A(F) 3027B(F) 3027C(F) 3029A(F) 3029B(F) 3029C(F) 3083A(F) 3083B(F) 3083C(F) 3104A(F) 3104B(F) 3104C(F) 3113A(M) 3113B(M) 3113C(M) 3117A(F) 3117B(F) 3117C(F) 4114A(M) 4114B(M) 5012A(M) 5012B(M) 5012C(M) 5114A(F) 5114B(F) 5115A(F) 5115B(F) 5115C(F)
If you are in one of the above rooms, it is guaranteed that your suite will always remain that sex as long as you are there, so you do not have to worry. Efficiency apartments are also (in a degenerate sense) single-gender accomodations. If you do not have a single-gender accomodation yet, but absolutely require one (such as for religious or ethical reasons), please contact MIT Graduate Housing directly to make arrangements. These types of situations have to be handled separately from the lottery.

3.4 I am handicapped or have a medical reason to require a certain type of room. Can you make special arrangements?

Please contact MIT Housing as soon as you have such an issue. They will handle your request promptly and appropriately and find a suitable arrangement for you. AHEC is not qualified to deal with these issues.

3.5 Can I just swap rooms with someone, one-to-one?

Swaps may be granted only on a case-by-case basis. Please have both parties contact AHEC directly about this at ahec (at) and explain why the two of you wish to swap.

4 Stapling

4.1 What is stapling and why should I staple?

Stapling means that you form a group of 2-3 residents so you can preference entire suites together and live together. You should staple if you are interested in living together with particular friend(s). You should also enter and staple if you are NOT interested in moving but have a vacancy in your suite and want to try to preference a particular friend to move in and be your new suitemate. It is not guaranteed, since it is seniority based, but you are highly likely to get your request since the seniority of a staple group is the sum of the constituents' points.

4.2 How do I preference suites for stapling?

Two parts. First, visit the stapling entry form and propose a group. Tell your friends to also do the same. After all group members propose the same identical group, it is automatically confirmed. Then, any group member can revisit the page and in the second section enter a list of suites on behalf of the group. By joining a stapling group you acknowledge that any group member has permissions to edit the list and this will affect your lottery results. If you staple, it is your responsibility to ensure that you staple with people you trust, or quit the stapling group if you cannot come to an agreement with your group.

4.3 What suites can I staple into?

If you are a staple group of 3 people, you can preference any 3- bedroom accomodation including those with or without kitchens. If you are a staple group of 2 people, you may preference 2- or 3-bedroom accomodations. Groups of 2 will only be assigned to 3-bedroom accomodations if exactly one (not zero) bedroom in the suite is occupied at your lottery iteration.

4.4 What if our staple group "loses" and doesn't manage to get assigned anywhere?

If your group members submitted any individual forms, they then get processed as individuals. Anyone who didn't is removed from the lottery and they keep their current room.

4.5 How do seniority points work for staple groups?

You are treated as a "virtual person" with the sum of your seniority points. Also, in the event of a tie between a staple group's sum and an individual, the staple group wins. This does mean that it's much easier to get a nice room if you staple!

4.6 I have a vacancy in my suite. How can I use stapling to pick a suitemate without risking moving?

Have all involved members staple together and preference only that one suite number (example: Alice lives in 1000A, Bob lives in 1000B, Eve lives in 5432; Alice and Bob want Eve to move into 1000C; they should all staple together and preference only '1000'). Those who were already living in it won't get moved, of course, and the vacancy will get filled by the remaining staple group member. The one who is moving is also welcome to fill out an individual form for other rooms in the building too, in the event that the staple group fails to get assigned.

4.7 Can an individual beat a staple group to a room in the suite, preventing the suite from being available to that group?

Yes, if that individual has more seniority points than the combined seniority of your group. Though it can happen, this is somewhat rare, since there are only few people in the building with seniority that high, and most of them have probably settled in for a while and are unlikely to want to move.

4.8 How do I change or leave my staple group?

Go back to the stapling page and change your stapling group. To un-staple, simply clear the username fields and "staple" with nobody. This will inactivate your preference list and your group will no longer be considered unless you re-join. It may be a nice gesture to let your friends that you are going to leave them, because they may want to find a new person to join their group.

4.9 Can I staple with people from the Housing waiting list or entering the continuing allocation because they don't have continuing status yet?

Unfortunately, no. The waiting list and continuing allocation are beyond the control of AHEC. You can only staple with people who are eligible to enter the in-house lottery. If after the in-house lottery, your suite still has a vacancy, you can try to contact MIT Housing to see if they can accomodate your request. AHEC and seniority points cannot help with this. If your friend gets into Ashdown House one way or another, they can staple with you in future lotteries afterwards.

5 Seniority points

5.1 Can I transfer seniority points from former Green Hall, S-P, etc.?

No. Only from Ashdown House in W1.

5.2 Where can I check how many seniority points I have?


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