Office Draw

The 2017 office draw will take place 4/28/2017.

All blocking groups must be submitted by 4/26/2017. Moving day will be TBA.

Office Draw Rules

Office draw (usually) takes place on a Friday in early May. Priority numbers are posted the week before, by the elevators and on this webpage. Blocking groups and squatting preferences are due by 11:59 PM the Wednesday before the draw, and may be selected using the link above. In detail, the three options for entering the office draw are:

  1. Squatting:

    Squatting means that you wish to stay in your current office. In order to be eligible to squat, at least one of the following two conditions must hold:

    1. Your priority is staying constant at 5 (i.e. you're in the 8th year or higher)
    2. Everyone in your office is either leaving the program or squatting, AND the average priority of your office is strictly smaller than your priorities when you picked the office, which will be called your effective priority. See below for the precise computation of effective priority.
  2. Blocking:

    Blocking with other graduate students allows you to pick your office at the same time as them. It does not guarantee that there will be an office that will fit your entire blocking group, nor does it require you to all go in a single office if there is one available. However, a blocking group cannot take any set of offices if they could be accommodated in a proper subset of those offices.

    Example: Alice, Bob, and Chris block together. They are not allowed to take three different empty offices. They are allowed to fill the last available spot in three different offices. This is to ensure that people in blocking groups do want to share an office with each other, but doesn't punish them if full offices aren't available.

  3. Floating:

    If you do not squat or block, you will enter the lottery individually. At the office draw, you can pick any office which has an open spot.

    On the Thursday before the draw, we will randomize office selection order taking into account blocking groups and priorities.

    Unless you are squatting, on the day of the draw you will choose your new office at your designated time. If you cannot make that time, send a surrogate or email mgsa@math with your preferences.

Computing Priorities

Each individual's priority is determined by their year in the department for the year they occupy the office (lower numbers are better):


A couple of other factors which may also modify office draw priorities: MGSA officers automatically have a priority of 0, and occasionally at department events (e.g. the Halloween tea/costume contest) a prize of "-1 to Office Draw Priority" is available.

A blocking group's priority is the average of its members priorities. A blocking group or individual with priority P is assigned a rank uniformly in the range [P, P+1). Office selection times will be assigned in decreasing order of rank. The office draw times will be posted on the website and by on the 9th floor.

Details of computation of effective priority: In order to squat under rule B above, the average priority of your office must be less than your average effective priority. If you were in the draw alone last year, then your effective priority is simply your priority. If you were in a block last year, your effective priority is the priority of the block. If you squatted last year, then your effective priority will be your effective priority from last year.

Example: Last year, second years Alice and Bob were in a four-person blocking group with two first years. This group had to split up during office selection because there were no four-person offices left. Alice and Bob end up with sixth year Chuck and become friends. The three of them want to squat next year. For next year, their average priority would be (3+3+3)/3 = 3. The average of their priorities last year was (4+4+1)/3 = 3. However, since Alice and Bob were in a blocking group with priority 4.5, their effective priorities last year were both 4.5. So the average of the trio's effective priorities is (4.5+4.5+1)/3 = 3.33 and the group would be able to squat since 3 < 3.33.

Moving Day

There is a single moving day at the beginning of the fall semester. It is usually the day before the first day of classes, but there are exceptions. If you are unable to move on this day, you have three options:

  1. Ask a friend to move your belongings for you on moving day.

  2. Talk to the current occupants of your future office and try to arrange a time prior to moving day when you can move your belongings

  3. Pack your belongings in boxes and put them in a corner of your current office so they take up minimal space. Talk to the future occupants and arrange a time to pick up your belongings after moving day. Note: this should only be done if you will be able to pick up your belongings within two weeks.