Another house post.
I suspect that the only people reading this who know about the closure of Casa Zimbabwe are the two who live in my house (and stop lurking or I'll poke you in the ribs while you sleep, because after all I do know where you live). For the rest of you, Casa Zimbabwe, the second-largest and second-most debaucherous house in the USCA system, will be closed next semester for structural repair. It will reopen next fall, but in the meantime 124 co-opers are being turned out to find housing either in one of the other 15 co-ops or elsewhere. As it turns out, there doesn't seem to be much problem with finding space for them -- in my house of 50 people 15 are leaving at the end of this semester -- but the question of what to do with them once they've been farmed out to other houses is becoming somewhat contentious.
The reason it's a problem is that co-opers accumulate seniority points for semesters spent living in one of the USCA houses. These points give you priority in bidding on bedrooms in whichever house you live in, with one important caveat: as a rule, if you switch houses, the first semester in your new house your points aren't active. You bid along with anyone else who has inactive points, after the continuing house members with active points have bid. Once you've spent a semester in your new house, you're considered a continuing member and all of your points come back. It's a reasonable rule in my estimation; for one, co-ops are theoretically about building a community, and so it makes sense to reward people for staying more than a semester in a house. For two, to move into a house and immediately bid your way into the biggest, airiest single is a good way to get off on the wrong foot with your housemates. You have to start at the bottom, and you should stick around if you want it to pay off.
But for the Czars* being turned out for next semester, it isn't exactly a normal situation. They don't have the option of sticking around in their house (and their house community is being split up). This is why, two years ago when the remodel was planned, the USCA's board of directors voted to allow them to have active points immediately if they moved into another house next semester. All well and good. But there's a glitch where Kingman's room bids are concerned. Two glitches, actually
The first glitch is that Kingman holds two sets of room bids for each semester. There's one bid at the end of the preceding semester, to allow continuing members to bid. Then there's another at the start of the semester itself, for new members and those from other houses. As I've heard it explained, this is because if someone lives in Kingman, then moves out, then comes back, their points are active when they come back because they've been a Kingmanite before. But they haven't been in the house the previous semester, so they're not included in the first round of bids. It becomes a terrace system of points: continuing active points in the first bid, then returning active points, inactive points, and no points in the second bid.
It's only been in the last week or so that the entirety of the board's decision has been communicated to the Kingman population: Czars will have active points and bid in the first round of room bids. In other words, entering Czars will have absolutely all privileges given to continuing Kingmanites. I'd like to gripe for a moment about the fact that our board representative has hardly been at any house council meetings this semester and really should have made sure we knew about this before the week of room bids. Okay, that's enough of a moment. Let's continue.
Glitch number two has been made apparent over the past few days. It concerns the fact that Czars didn't have to wait until now to move out; in fact, a number of them moved into Kingman at the start of this semester. They were planning ahead in order to be continuing members, with active points and first bid privileges, so as to get nice rooms for next semester. Since they had inactive points when they moved in, they tended to end up in fairly crappy rooms for the current semester. Their plans mostly concerned bidding into better ones, not located in the dank and chilly basement**, for spring. This would have worked if, as some of them were expecting, the entering Czars would be bidding in the second round. The new Czars would have bid priority over people entirely new to the co-ops and anyone from a non-CZ house, but the former-Czars-now-Kingmanites who planned ahead would still get to move up in the room hierarchy. As it is, their forward thinking gained them nothing except an extra, unnecessary, semester in the basement where they will find themselves staying if their former housemates have enough points to outbid them.
I just realized that one of my readers in the house is a forward-thinking refugee Czar. Fascinating. I suppose that makes this as good a forum as any to ask (both house readers and non-house readers) what you all think of this situation. If it had been put to you to figure out the fair solution before the board's full decision was made clear, what would you have done? If it were put to you now to figure out a fair way to run our next room bids, what would you do? If you were the house manager and were facing mutiny from a coalition of angry house members who want the Czars kept out of the first round (and who are, interestingly, mostly members who are settled in nice rooms and won't be bidding), how would you quell it?
Feel free to answer using the back of this page if space requires.
*Fun USCA fact: houses tend to acquire, intentionally or otherwise, nicknames for their inhabitants based in some way on the house's name. Casa Zimbabwe is generally shortened to CZ, and hence it is full of Czars. At Cloyne you become a Clone, and at Wilde a Wilde Childe. Castro residents are, unfortunately, known as Castrati. Inhabitants of Lothlorien are of course Elves. Kingman comes in as pretty appallingly boring with Kingmanites. Even Hillegass-Parker house (the remodeled, reopened and heavily sanitized Le Chateau), which is only a couple of semesters old, has been shortened to HiP and calls its residents Hipsters. Basically, we should be ashamed.
**For the record, I'm planning on bidding into the dank and chilly basement next semester. It's not because it's dank and chilly, but because it's the accepted place to have allergy-inducing animals and I miss my fuzz.Posted by dianna at December 2, 2006 12:00 AM