What are merit points?

Forty-one out of 47 students surveyed do not believe that merit points have a true purpose, raising a question of why they exist at all. 
According to Katie Graffum, the assistant director of housing, merit points are meant to set students above in housing, but do not determine it. However, according to a survey conducted with 47 upperclassmen, 57 percent of them claim that having merit points has never helped them.
“It’s always been credits first,” said Graffum, “which is something [I think] students get confused about.”
Graffum explained that merit points are meant to show students that their work outside the classroom is just as valued as the work done within. Though it does give students a little bit of an edge in housing lottery, its main purpose is to show appreciation.
Additionally, it varies by situations like how many students are studying abroad and/or living off campus, as well as what housing one would like. If a bunch of students decide to live off campus the following year or have chosen to study abroad in the fall, the number of students involved in the actual selection process will be smaller than usual.
Graffum also reminds students to always make sure they are closing the loop on everything.
“I think students get what they are, but they don’t get that credits matter, too and that’s frustrating [to them],” said Graffum.
She also emphasized the importance of being registered for clubs and organizations on Hawklink.
RWU sophomore, Thomas Wallace, says otherwise.
“I maxed out on merit points,” Wallace said. “But merit points seem to have very little value.”
Wallace, who admits to understanding what Graffum is saying about credits coming first, still explains how both maxing out on merit points and having a higher number of credits still landed him with a less-than-favorable selection time.
“As cool as it is to see three merit points for being involved in Senate, that in no way incentivizes the amount of work that goes into being apart of an organization on campus,” said Wallace.
He suggests that Housing should come up with a more worthwhile reward for being involved on campus. Wallace is part of the 91 percent of students who attend events just for merit points.
Though not necessarily satisfied with it, Wallace stated that the housing selection process is obviously a very complicated one, and that he cannot pretend that he would be able to run it smoothly.
“I am of the unpopular opinion that it should just be first come, first served,” said Wallace. “The housing portal should open at 8 a.m. and whoever selects the room first gets it.”
Graffum, who understands students frustrations, admits a little known secret about the housing process.
“We don’t start at lottery number one,” Graffum said. “Just because you are number 3,000 does not mean that there is actually 3,000 people ahead of you.”
Though asked for information behind which lottery number starts off selection, Graffum refused to comment.
“That’s Housing’s little secret,” Graffum said.
Graffum offered to speak with students on any questions or concerns they may have regarding both the housing selection process and merit points come selection time in the spring.