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Written by Alexandria Butler
Student opinions of on-campus housing are appropriately mixed—there are so many different options that your housing experience can vary. There are standard dormitories (with 60 to 200 people), self-operated houses where students manage finances and cleaning (with 25 to 50 people), and co-ops where residents do all of the cooking and cleaning. Mirrielees House is an apartment-style dorm where you don’t have a meal plan, and you can do your own cooking. Some students are quite happy living in a regular dormitory, while others have a much better time in a smaller house. Most feel that freshman year is best spent living in an all-freshman dorm because you’ll get to know a lot more people and have a better social life. After freshman year, you have the option to live in a dorm again or in a Row house. Stanford’s lottery system called “The Draw” has a huge effect on the options you have each year.
Stanford definitely has one of the most diverse housing systems of any university, and there’s a large disparity between the qualities of different options. Some students live in crowded one-room triples and have mediocre food, while others live in singles and have a great house chef. The lottery, which gives you a random number that affects where you can live, supposedly mediates the disparity. Of course, some people are just unlucky. Others will manage to find loopholes; some people join fraternities, while others become staff members. Where you live on campus greatly influences your quality of life, though not always for the most obvious reasons. Having good food or a large room is nice, but sometimes having the right roommate or good people in your hall makes the biggest difference.
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