Pamela McDowell, director of Residence Life, attributes the unusual pod draw to two factors. First, she said that students had difficulty getting together groups of ten. Second, the incoming senior class is approximately 40 students smaller than previous classes. Two female pods went to all-junior groups. One male pod went to a mix of juniors and seniors and another went to all juniors.
Triple suites in Rand Residence Hall remained popular at draw, and Rand filled with a mix of juniors and seniors, similar to previous years.
McDowell was surprised when female juniors drew preferentially for Mellby Hall over the traditional junior haven, Thorson Hall. After the junior females finished drawing, there were 14 rooms left in Thorson. McDowell attributed this to Mellby Hall's central location and quieter atmosphere.
"Mellby has a quaintness," she said.
Junior and senior males flocked to sextets in Larson and Mohn Halls, leaving no sextets for sophomores, despite the tradition that these rooms go to sophomores.
After the junior male draw, 12 rooms were left open in Thorson.
"We may be seeing culture change," McDowell said, indicating that residence hall popularity can change. She pointed out that housing is cyclical and that tastes change, meaning that one year Ytterboe Hall is popular with seniors and the next Mohn Hall is.
However, the change in favor can make draw difficult to anticipate.
"The stressful thing about roomdraw is you just don't know until the seniors draw," McDowell said.
The number of students living off campus next year is 164, although this may change as more people finalize plans. McDowell does hold some rooms, and is currently holding two floors in Larson and one floor in Kittlesby Residence Hall. McDowell stressed that she must save space for students returning from fall programs abroad. She pointed out that St. Olaf has been generous with its housing policy in not forcing students without roommates to consolidate.
"We give students a lot of choices," she said.
There are also open quads in Rand that need to be filled. However, filling those spaces can be tricky.
"I am not looking to fill space partially," she said.
Although the numbers on the class of 2010 are not finalized, it looks to have a unique demographic: It will be the first class in years to have an almost even ratio of males and females. This situation will change housing not only for next year, but in the future as well. For now, McDowell is toying with possible combinations to accommodate the increased number of males.