Here’s how the neighborhood assignment process actually works

April 20, 2021, 9:12 p.m.

After Stanford announced its implementation plan for neighborhoods — the hallmark of the University’s ResX initiative that seeks to reimagine the residential experience — many students were left with lingering questions about how the system will work. As the April 25 neighborhood application deadline rapidly approaches, The Daily sought out to answer the community’s most pressing questions, from what a neighborhood actually is to how the neighborhood assignment application differs from pre-assignment, living complex and room selection. So, here’s everything you need to know as you apply for your neighborhood. 

First, what actually is a neighborhood? 

Your neighborhood, which is intended to be your home for the rest of your time as a Stanford undergraduate, is a collection of residential buildings and students in which and with whom you can live. Undergraduate students will be divided into eight neighborhoods — temporarily named with the letters S, T, A, N, F, O, R and D — each of which includes a combination of frosh and multi-year residences, University Theme Houses (UTH), Row houses, Greek houses, cooperatives, apartment-style residences and housing options for students with disability-related accommodations. You can view a map of the neighborhoods and learn more about each one here.

With the intention of building a tight-knit community, each neighborhood will also have a professional staff, a community council and community gathering spaces. According to Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) spokesperson Jocelyn Breeland and Senior Director of Communications for Student Affairs Pat Harris, R&DE and Residential Education are still ironing out the details of these resources. Each neighborhood will also have its own Neighborhood Theme Houses, which will only be open to students in that neighborhood. And, though each neighborhood will have its own dining options, students will be able to access all dining halls regardless of their neighborhood assignment. 

How does the neighborhood application process work? 

You can apply for your neighborhood, which requires ranking all eight neighborhoods in order of preference, as an individual or in a group of up to eight peers. Groups can consist of students from multiple class years. If you choose to apply in a group, your group will be assigned a unique name and code. Each member of the group must fill out an individual application using the group name and code, but only the student who is the creator of the group can rank neighborhoods and edit the rankings up until the April 25 application deadline. Neighborhood assignments will be announced on Friday, May 21. 

Is applying for your neighborhood the same as applying for housing? 

No. Applying for your neighborhood is the first step of a three-step housing assignment process. Your neighborhood assignment indicates which Stanford residences are available to you (remember, you can only live in buildings and with people in your neighborhood, unless you live in a UTH or serve in a student staffing role). 

Starting in mid-June, you will be able to complete the residence selection process, in which you will rank residences in your neighborhood. This is also when you can complete the pre-assignment process if you want to live in a cultural, ethnic or academic theme house, cooperative, Row house or Greek house, and it’s when ResEd will select student staff. If you need medical housing accommodations, this is when you should file a request with the Office of Accessible Education. Finally, in August, you will be able to select your room in your assigned residence — the last step of the assignment process. 

So if I complete the neighborhood application with a group, does my roommate need to be included in that group? 

Nope! While your roommate can be among the people with whom you apply for your neighborhood, they do not have to be. Remember: You can only live with people within your assigned neighborhood (except if student staffing or living in a UTH), so your roommate can be anyone who is also in your neighborhood.

During the residence selection process, “you may apply with the same group that submitted a neighborhood application together, or you can form a new group,” Breeland and Harris wrote in a statement to The Daily.

Who will be given priority assignment, and how will class year be defined for those who took time off from school this past year? 

Stanford’s housing system categorizes students based on cohort year (the year they came to Stanford), so students who took time off this past year will still be considered members of their original cohort. Neighborhood assignments will be made with the help of randomly generated numbers, though they will not be the only guiding factor. The University has said that their primary goal is to keep friend groups together and ensure that class cohorts are evenly distributed across all eight neighborhoods. So, if you choose to apply to a neighborhood with a group of students in multiple class years, this will not necessarily put you at a disadvantage, according to Breeland and Harris. Class year priority will become relevant during the residence and room selection processes, in which seniors will receive top priority, followed by juniors and then sophomores.

What if I want to live in a University Theme House (UTH)? 

You may live in a UTH regardless of whether it is located in your neighborhood. So, if you are in Neighborhood S but want to live in an ethnic theme house located in Neighborhood T, you can do that! You are permitted to live outside of your neighborhood for up to two years, unless you have a staff assignment or hold an executive leadership position in a Greek organization. Students should apply to live in a UTH during the pre-assignment process, which will take place after neighborhood assignments are completed. 

“As you consider which neighborhoods to rank, please keep in mind that all of the UTHs will be 100% preassigned and open to students from all neighborhoods,” Breeland and Harris wrote. “Therefore, students should not rank neighborhoods based on theme programs as they will always be eligible to preassign into all theme programs.”

What if I don’t like my neighborhood? Can I switch?

If you aren’t happy with your neighborhood assignment, you can try to switch neighborhoods, though the process for switching will not be formalized until next spring, according to Breeland and Harris. Though you can switch neighborhoods, keep in mind that you will receive the lowest priority within your class cohort for housing assignment. 

What is going on with EVGR-A and Mirrielees? 

Both Escondido Village Graduate Residences Building A (EVGR-A) and Mirrielees House offer apartment-style living, which, because it is highly sought after by upperclassmen, is distributed across all eight neighborhoods. 

“We wanted to be sure that every neighborhood had some portion of Mirrielees and EVGR-A, so upperclass students can continue to be a part of their assigned neighborhoods, while enjoying these more independent living options,” Breeland and Harris wrote. They said that each neighborhood will have a wing(s) and/or floor(s) of EVGR-A and Mirrielees. EVGR-A will continue to be used for undergraduate housing next year to accommodate a nearly 400-student increase in the Class of 2025.

I’m a sophomore who hasn’t been to campus yet. Will there be any recreation of the frosh experience I missed? 

Yes! Rising sophomores have the option to be assigned roommates and housing, as they would have been had they come to campus last year. You can also request to live in all-sophomore housing. R&DE wrote in a recent email on the application process that they “strongly encourage rising sophomores to consider participating in [the roommate matching program] as a way to alleviate any stress you may be feeling regarding the assignment process.” They also emphasized that applying to a neighborhood individually is something they expect many students to do. 

Students who took a gap year after their frosh year can also live in all-sophomore housing, though cohort-year sophomores will be given first priority. 

I’m an incoming frosh. Does all of this still apply to me?  

No; incoming frosh do not need complete the neighborhood application process. Instead, they will complete their own Approaching Stanford housing assignment process, in which they may be assigned to all-frosh housing in a neighborhood or to a UTH, like an ethnic or academic theme dorm. Incoming frosh will still be matched with a roommate, as in previous years. 

I’m completing a coterminal degree next year. Can I still apply for a neighborhood? 

While coterminal students may apply for undergraduate housing via the neighborhood process, the University is encouraging these students to apply for housing through the Graduate Housing Lottery due to potentially limited space in undergraduate residences. 

What about incoming transfer students? 

Incoming transfer students do not need to apply for a neighborhood and will still be provided with all-transfer housing, though the University has not yet selected the house in which this will exist and may also decide to rotate the location of transfer housing each year. These students will go through a separate Approaching Stanford process and will be matched with a roommate for their first year. 

More questions? You can ask them here and we’ll keep updating this story as we get new information!

This article has been updated to reflect that a decision to use EVGR-A for undergraduate housing for the next four years has not yet been made. The University told The Daily that Vice Provost Susie Brubaker-Cole misspoke in an April Parents’ Club Q&A session when she indicated that the building would be used to house undergraduates for the next four years to accommodate an increase in the incoming frosh class.

Georgia Rosenberg is the Vol. 261 executive editor for print. She was previously a Vol. 260 news managing editor and a Vol. 258/259 desk editor for university news. Contact her at grosenberg 'at'!

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