Number of Lawn applicants increase

Living on the Lawn, the heart of the University community and the site of countless University traditions, remains a highly-coveted honor sought by many undergraduates.

Last Thursday, 250 third and fourth years submitted applications vying for one of 47 places of residence in Mr. Jefferson's Academical Village, a five-person increase from the 245 applicants last year, Assistant Director of Accommodations D. Cole Spencer said.

Applicants have consistently numbered around 250 over the past several years, Spencer said.

Although there are 54 rooms on the Lawn, only 47 are open to applications from rising fourth and fifth years because seven of the rooms are endowed, Head Lawn Resident Shan Wu said.

Wu, a fourth-year Engineering student, also serves as chair of the Lawn selection committee.

In addition to the top 47 candidates, 10 are placed on the waiting list, Wu said.

Formal decision letters and e-mails will be mailed Feb. 13, and those chosen will have one week to accept or decline the offer, she said.

The endowed rooms guarantee a room for a member of the Honor Committee, the head Lawn resident, the recipient of the Gus Blagden or "Good Guy" award, the recipient of the John Crispell award, who is usually a pre-med student, a member of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society, a member of the Trigon engineering fraternity room and a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity, Wu said.

Applications were received in the Accommodations Office of the University Housing Division, where they were stripped of any identifying information to preserve the anonymity of applicants while being reviewed by the selection committee, Director of Accommodations John Evans said.

The organizing committee, chaired by Dean of Students Penny Rue, began the planning process last semester.

"Every year we try to improve things a little bit, based on what went well or what did not go well during the previous year," Rue said.

In past years, the applications were numbered sequentially in the order they were received, but the numbering process was changed this year to avoid any bias that might favor students who submitted their applications earlier, Evans said.

"When the organizing committee got together last fall, we talked about the application process and what we could change this year," Wu said. "We thought the selection committee members might be affected inadvertently by [the assigned] numbers, so we scrapped the whole process.

The organizing committee considered identifying applicants by the last four digits of their social security numbers, but decided against it because of the possibility that siblings might recognize each other's similar social security numbers, she added.

Wu said she and Spencer finally shuffled the applications out of the order they were received and randomly numbered them.

The applications were then given to the 35 members of the selection committee, 20 of which are members of various student groups ranging from the Inter-Fraternity Council to the Queer Student Union, and 15 of which are randomly selected, Wu said.

Each member of the selection committee reviews all 250 applications and ranks his or her top 47 choices.

Wu also reviews each application, but does not get a vote since she has seen the names of applicants.

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