The Room Ballot

How & when the room ballot takes place

Each year, the room ballot process is conducted by the college accommodation officer and the exact details can change from year to year. Every undergraduate is allowed three years of accommodation on site and this is the process for allocating rooms.

What follows is based on how the 2019 room ballot will be done, and may not be exactly how things are done in future years.

Here is the official current scheme for the ballot:

Room Ballot Scheme

Room Ballot Scheme Final - November '18

 

What’s my ballot position?

Your ballot position will be emailed to you on the Wednesday after examinations in Easter term. It lets you know how many rooms will be assigned before yours. Third years choose first, then second years, then freshers.

The ordering for third years is flipped from the ordering in second year, with preference first to those who shared in second year, then to those who lived in Owlstone Croft in second year then to all others. Thus if you were the last pair to choose a shared room in second year, you will have the top priority in third year. This is in order to incentivise sharing in the second year.

Be aware of your ballot number when choosing a room as many of the choices you make may have all already been taken (Old court, Walnut Tree Court and Erasmus are particularly popular). Most second years tend to end up on the “light side” with most third years on the “dark side”.

How do I Decide what room I want?

Rooms on site vary a lot in terms of price, size, lighting and whether or not they have an ensuite. Details about rooms and price bands can be found on the Queens’ College website accommodation page. We’ve also been told that floor plans should be available there soon as well!

The reason the ballot is in May Week is so that it occurs after the college’s charges meeting. This means that when choosing rooms you’ll know the definite price of the rooms you’re picking, as opposed to previously where room prices displayed were provisional.

The JCR also traditionally runs room shopping, a pair of days before the room ballot takes place where students can visit each other’s rooms to see which ones they like.

what are the “types of rooms” i can choose from?

The ballot document above specifies that we will be able to choose rooms by type, not by room number. The types of these rooms are likely to mirror the different rows of the price band document on the Queens’ College website, for example “Erasmus” or “Friars facing Kings/Court” or “Walnut Tree Court shared sets”.

What if i have a specific room in mind?

Choosing rooms is a very personal decision for everyone and everyone will have different preferences, besides just price. Since these types are quite vague, there will be a comment box as part of the online system whereby additional preferences can be made.

As the rooms are assigned (in order according to ballot position), an attempt at meeting the requests made in this box will be made.

In theory, you can put any preference, and these preferences will be catered for, to the best of the Accommodation Officer’s Ability. The only people who will see what you write are those running the ballot, this year the Accommodation Officer and the Domestic Bursar. 

Disclaimer/Note/Caution: This box is a privilege and not a right. There is no guarantee that your preferences will be catered for. Therefore, preference yourself wisely. In other words, be careful what you wish for, or in any case, how you wish for it. We suggest being polite in your request and being aware of the likelihood of it being granted given your ballot position. Also be aware that if you put down that you’d like to be near someone, they should write the same about you.

Examples of polite requests you could make:
“If possible, could I have a top floor room with a view of the river?”
“Could you try to place me near John Doe please?”
“If you give me a Docket room, could I not share a bathroom with a guy?”
“Could I have a room in U staircase please? I’d love U2 if it’s still available”.

How does sharing work?

If you choose to share in your second year, you will ballot together (you will have the same ballot number). If there are too many pairs wanting to share, some pairs will be informed that they can’t share and will ballot separately.

If you share in your second year you will have priority in the ballot in your third year. If you decide to share in your third year, the shared ballot number will be the higher of the two individual’s ballot numbers.

What if i believe i should be exempt from the ballot for health/safety reasons?

If for any reason you believe that you have specific health or safety requirements that required more than a preference in the comment box, it is possible to be exempt from the ballot and given a room to specifically meet your needs.

This will be done discretely, without releasing any information that would breach any form of confidentiality.

If you believe your circumstances put you into this category, or if you are unsure if your circumstances put you into this category, adhere to the following steps:

  1. Get into contact with your College Tutor (whose name and email address can be found at CamSIS, under the “Academic” tab). They are trained in confidentiality and will speak to you to decide what course of action to take. They are responsible for representing your interests as a student. 
  2. You and your Tutor will discuss your situation and come to a conclusion together as to whether this constitutes a valid reason for you to be removed from the ballot and accommodated separately. If this is for health reasons, this may require evidence from your GP or the DSC.
  3. If this is the case, your College Tutor will represent you to the appropriate party and ensure that your needs are met, potentially seeking professional advice from the College Nurse, the Head of Welfare and/or the DRC, whoever applies.

You can also appeal to the Senior Tutor (Dr Kelly) if you’re unhappy with the decision made by your Tutor.

What if i still have questions?

Questions can be sent to the college accommodation officer (rooms@queens.cam.ac.uk) and the JCR accommodation officer (jcr-accommodation@queens.cam.ac.uk).