Rotation is the formal process for joining a house. It is only available during a student's first year and enrolled students cannot defer rotation and participate in a later year. After rotation, you are still free to become a member of other houses, though all membership decisions are made house by house in different, more informal ways.
First year students, transfer students, and anyone who was on leave for rotation last year, and exchange students are all eligible to participate in Rotation 2021.
Rotation will take place between September 24 - 30, 2021. House assignments will be announced on October 2, 2021, and students are projected to move into their permanent rooms on October 3, 2021.
As a preface, due to Caltech's COVID-19 Policies, Rotation this year will largely be held virtually with small group in-person opportunities. During rotation there are virtual Dinner/Linner receptions, virtual Big Events on the weekend, and pod in-person opportunities at each of the Houses. You will receive a personalized schedule for attending daily Dinners/Linners and pod in-person opportunity sessions, which are house specific and provide the opportunity to speak to upperclass students in the house in smaller groups and during activities. The weekend Big events activities are larger events to showcase elements of a house's culture and provide a larger-scale view of the house. At all rotation activities, upperclass students will work hard to make sure you are able to feel comfortable, meet people and get to know the house. That way you can decide how to rank the house when you fill out your preferences on the last day.
No. You live in the same room for all of Rotation, and move once Rotation is complete.
Rotation is usually an intensely interactive event, so many alterations have been made in order to ensure the health and safety of the Caltech community with regards to Covid-19. Desserts will not be occurring this year. All rotation dinners will be conducted virtually. House events will be virtual, though some houses will include a hybrid component to allow students to pick up food or other items during the event. The pickup process for these events will occur in staggered small groups to limit interaction. There will be pod-based in-person interactions in each house after each dinner/reception. These interactions will be constrained to FCC groups and the upperclass students that interact with each group will rotate in order to limit contact. Each house will choose a limited number of upperclass students that may attend each of these pod events (such as the Presidents), but these selected upperclass students will remain distanced throughout the event.
Faculty are aware of the rotation dates and process. Rotation historically always overlaps with the first week of fall term academic classes, so your Fall term professors are very likely aware of the time and energy involved in rotation! However, rotation is not a sufficient excuse for attendance or submission issues, so please prioritize your academic work.
Cases of concern can be anonymously reported or self-reported, for reasons including but not limited to: experiencing disconnection from the Rotation process, individual/specific needs regarding House affiliation that are not being addressed, discomfort with an individual or situation, or any suggestions for assisting members of the Rotating class to affiliate successfully. Concerns may be reported to anyone on the IHC or to any Dean, an RA, or an RLC. Please feel free to reach out to any of the contacts listed below:
Office of Residential Experience
Caltech Center for Inclusion and Diversity
Equity and Title IX
For confidential resources, please reach out to the Counseling Center (626-395-8331, press 2 when prompted for after-hours support). You are also welcome to reach out to Teresa Mejia (email@example.com) the Campus Sexual Violence Advocate and a confidential resource, and Taso Dimitriadis (firstname.lastname@example.org), Associate Director of the CCID and confidential resource.
Yes. You are always welcome to participate in any rotation events and dinners, and you will be able to choose to receive a house affiliation in the End-of-Rotation form due the night of the last day of Rotation. If you choose to be affiliated with a house in the End-of-Rotation form, you will receive a full house membership to one of the houses when rotation assignments are announced, and become an affiliated member of that House living in Bechtel.
Yes. If you don't want to participate in the rotation process and become affiliated with a house, you will be able to opt-out of the House system at Caltech and be placed in Bechtel unaffiliated in the End-of-Rotation form. The End-of-Rotation Form will be released mid-way through rotation and be due at 9:30pm on the last day of rotation. On the form, you will have the option to check a box indicating that you would like to remain unaffiliated and be placed in Bechtel. While we want to accommodate any request to opt out of rotation, there may not be enough unaffiliated beds for everyone who wishes to opt out. If necessary, we will create a waitlist for Bechtel. For questions about the opt out process, please contact Felicia Hunt (email@example.com). You are still welcome to participate in any rotation events and dinners, even if you want to opt out of rotation.
Yes! You are welcome to join a house at any time during your Caltech career. This is done by working directly with the house. While the membership process differs slightly between houses, this usually involves getting to know the house and its members by attending their dinners and open events, then announcing your membership application at dinner. If you decide not to receive a house affiliation through rotation, you are welcome to get a membership in the houses you are interested in through their own membership processes.
No part of rotation is mandatory. We want you to attend the events that interest you and help you make the decision that is right for you. You are welcome to attend everything, and it can be helpful to see as many options as possible. But you are not required to attend anything. That being said, we encourage everyone to give every residence a fair chance! By attending each residence's events, students get a more representative perspective of what this campus is about. Regardless of your choice to attend events, we do recommend using the time during rotation to get to know students on this campus, from upperclass students across residences to your fellow prefrosh.
Students who opt not to join a house are able to get involved in community and residential leadership in Bechtel and are able to build a residential community with their friends in the suites, alleys and halls in unaffiliated housing. Our residential life team can help here too! You are welcome to email ORE at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The rotation process is only for affiliation in one house only. You can apply to join another house (or multiple others) after rotation.
Yes. You will only get one house affiliation through rotation, but you can join as many houses as desired by applying for membership. This process differs between houses, but generally involves attending dinners and open house events to get to know the house and members better, then announcing your application during a dinner. Each house has its own internal process for deciding to confer membership. You also have the ability to drop any of your house memberships at any point.
No, there are processes in place to drop (and add) house memberships, which you may participate in after rotation.
You are welcome to opt out of the rotation process, or drop your membership after receiving your house affiliation at the end of rotation. However, we always recommend giving the houses a chance!
Being a member (full or social) of a house allows you to participate in the events that house puts on. These range from institute-wide (such as Interhouse parties); ski, beach or desert trips; family style dinners on weekdays; and house traditions that have been passed down over Caltech's long history. Full members may choose to live in the house they have membership in, even if they did not rotate into that house. Houses are also an academic resource and a support structure--each one has upperclass students who are Peer Advocates, Health Advocates, Equity & Title IX Advocates, ARC representatives, SURF ambassadors, teaching assistants, and generally amazing sources of advice for succeeding at Caltech.
Several (but not all) houses have two membership tiers--social and full. The process of rotation is to gain full house membership, but if you choose to apply to join other houses after rotation, you can choose to apply for a full or social membership based on which one suits you best. Social memberships generally allow you to participate in social events held by your house. Full memberships, along with participating in house events, allow you to vote and participate in your house's roompicks.
Please attend the house reception that you are assigned to attend based on the calendar we assign you.
You are not required to attend any of the events for rotation. That said, we recommend attending at least one event for each house, especially the house receptions, so you are best informed to make your ranking at the end of rotation.
If you have to miss a Dinner/Linner, email Audrey (email@example.com), the IHC Secretary, as soon as possible if you want to reschedule. If you have to miss a Rotation Big event, don't worry about it, they're completely optional but you're encouraged to go. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions for the in-person pod events, you will not be able to reschedule a missed in-person pod event session.
You can stop attending rotation events at any time, and check the box stating that you do not desire a house affiliation in the End-of-Rotation survey after the survey is released.
The last day of rotation is utilized for free receptions, meaning you can attend the Dinner of any house you want. Use these as an opportunity to see houses again or make up for any Dinners you may have missed. Just remember to let us know if you're missing an official Dinner so we can know to expect you at the free Dinner!
Caltech Dining Services (CDS) is very accommodating when it comes to dietary restrictions. You can email SpecialMeals@caltech.edu if you need to request special meals. Feel free to ask any upperclassman about food options. They'll point you in the right direction.
Each house will hold one large event. There will be four on Saturday the 25th and another four on Sunday the 26th. The events will be staggered in non-overlapping one-hour time slots between 8 and midnight. Events will occur in a virtual format, with some houses including a hybrid component where students can pick up food or other assorted goodies throughout the event time slot.
Yes, you can talk to other first year students about your experiences in the houses. We generally do not advise sharing your rankings.
Upperclass students are discouraged from sharing their rotation rankings with first year students.
House Selection After Rotation
Mid-way through rotation, everyone will receive a survey. This survey is due at 9:30pm on the last day of Rotation (Thursday, September 30). At that time you can opt into house membership by ranking the houses that you like and see yourself joining, or opt out by selecting the box stating that you would not like a house affiliation at this time. If you do choose to submit a ranking, you must rank all the houses. You are allowed to rank houses as the same number.
After the Rotation algorithm is run and assignments are finalized, we will give you your assignments. As per tradition, assignments will be given out on the Saturday after Rotation is over. At 5pm the cannon fires, and then your assignments will be shared with you via email. Once you receive your assignment, you will also be given welcome event information for your new House or Bechtel (if you rotate into Bechtel but have also been assigned a House membership, we encourage you to also join your House's welcome activity).
A matching algorithm is used to prioritize first year rankings and factors in house preferences to determine optimal affiliation for the first year class. The selection process is usually constrained: there are only a limited number of openings in each house, and it is impossible to simultaneously meet the preferences of all of the first year students and houses.
Each prefrosh submits an ordered ranking of residences. They can only have one first choice, though they may tie subsequent residences. However, their ranking must always be ordinal. For example, a student may rank [x] House first and tie all of the other houses for second, but they may not rank [x] House first and tie all of the other houses for ninth. Students may opt out of Rotation and into Bechtel if they choose. If they do, they will automatically be placed in Bechtel until Bechtel is full. They may opt back into Rotation at any point in time. Each house submits a house list consisting of students they believe would be a good match for their community. The house list size will be half of the total number of beds allocated by the ACRL Report 2. The ADA coordinator (Lesley Nye) will place all students who have ADA needs in rooms. The Rotation Concerns Committee (RCC, consisting of a dean, the ORE director, and the IHC Chair) will go through all concerns and place students in rooms. The RCC will do the best it can to respect house wishes. The algorithm is run for the remaining students in two stages. First is the house list matching process. If a prefrosh ranks a house 1 and they are on a house list, they will be automatically placed in the house. Second, the rest of the students will be sorted using a convex penalty algorithm. The algorithm overall works to minimize the total penalty. The penalty is calculated by squaring the prefrosh ranking of the house they end up in. There are also some additional conditions the algorithm takes into consideration in producing a final solution. If the penalty in the algorithm will not change drastically, it will favor putting students on a house's house list into that house. The IHC and ORE director will choose between the remaining choices in a closed meeting.
As you may know, the North Houses (Lloyd, Page, Ruddock) and Avery only have doubles available for frosh. Historically, the default roommate pairing is based on gender, such that women are rooming with women, and men are rooming with men. This means that the algorithm has a "gender parity" constraint, where there must be an even number of W and M in the North Houses and Avery. However, we recognize that this constraint does not account for the existence of gender diverse students.
This year, when prefrosh submit their rankings of the Houses and residences, there will be 2 additional questions which have not existed in previous years:
- Gender Identity Question - This data will be visible only to the ORE director and the AVP for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Assessment. This information will not be retained after Rotation is complete. Students can answer to the level they are comfortable with.
- Gender Inclusive Rooming Question - This will ask students if they are interested in a "Gender Inclusive Rooming" situation (yes/no), which can be for any student regardless of gender identity. This data will be passed on to House/residence leadership, so each House/residence can use this information to better inform roommate pairings where possible and appropriate.
These questions are present in order to ensure that students who identify outside of the cisgender, M/F binary are placed in housing situations that they feel are safe, regardless of the "gender parity" constraint in the algorithm. In future years, we hope to continue and expand upon this process in order to ensure that all students are included. If you have concerns or other considerations you'd like taken into account during the Rotation process, you can continue to reach out to the Rotation Concerns Committee via this form.
After Rotation is complete, each House/residence has a unique process to determine roommates/suitemates. Prefrosh are encouraged to reach out to individual House Presidents or Bechtel staff with questions about roommate pairing.
During room selection, if you are affiliated with a house you will be able to participate in the house lottery process for that house or in the unaffiliated process. Thus, house affiliation will not restrict your housing options, but provide an additional option.
If you are placed into a House, then roompicks for "permanent" rooms will be run by that House's Excomm on Saturday, October 2, evening. Each house has its own roompicks procedure for incoming frosh. On the day rotation results are announced and new students gain their house assignments, they will work with their new houses to decide room arrangements.
If you are placed into Bechtel (unaffiliated or with a house affiliation), then roompicks will be run by the Bechtel RLC early on Sunday 10/3 morning. See the questions in the Bechtel subsection of the FAQ for more information on Bechtel roompicks.
Sunday, October 3 is Moving day. Frosh will have all day Sunday to move into their new room assignments. COVID-19 cleanliness and sanitation guidelines for moving will be distributed to all students who are moving rooms. All items on the form must be followed sufficiently to ensure that the move is safe for all students involved. Room move forms will be included in your check-in packets, but there will be extras outside of the Housing Office by the after hours drop box. Frosh should submit their forms by Monday morning at 8:00 am. Upperclass students should be around to help move - just ask!
After you have rotated into a House or Bechtel (unaffiliated or with a house affiliation), you will pick your "permanent" room. This will be your permanent room assignment for the rest of the academic year.
If you have an issue in regards to the permanent room assignment in the House/residence you have rotated into, or have any additional questions or concerns about this topic, please contact ORE (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Although we certainly welcome students with house affiliations to live in Bechtel, a membership/affiliation is not required to live in the Bechtel Residence as it is in the Houses. In the suite-style living environment, students often find that they can create smaller communities within the larger Bechtel community. We encourage students to create an experience that works for them and to engage academically and socially in ways that are comfortable for them.
The Bechtel Residence offers 4, 6, 8 & 12-bed suites, as well as a number of standalone single suites. Each multi-room suite has a common living space, including shared bathrooms, a refrigerator, table, seating and storage space. Individual rooms are furnished with a bed, desk, chair, drawer and wardrobe. The standalone single suites are rooms with private bathrooms.
The Bechtel Residence has three common kitchens available for use. The kitchens are equipped with standard appliances such as stove/oven, microwave, dishwasher, refrigerators, as well as counter and seating space. Kitchens also have common cooking tools available for shared use.
In addition to the kitchens, there are also several common lounges and study rooms available. There is a ping pong table, a foosball table, as well as a board game closet. All lounges and study rooms also have whiteboards and writing supplies. Two of the four study rooms are equipped with printers for shared use.
Bechtel also has four active laundry rooms, each with multiple washers and dryers, as well as community vacuum cleaners and ice machines. Laundry rooms are located on each floor.
Students are provided with the opportunity to pick from a list of available suites/rooms through a room picks process facilitated by the Office of Residential Experience and Housing Office. More information will be provided when the room pick process is set to begin.
There are 6 Resident Associates (RAs) living in the Bechtel Residence. RAs are current Graduate Students who bring a variety of experiences, training and knowledge to the role! Bechtel also has Peer Advocates (PAs), who are well-trained and experienced upperclass students who are prepared to provide advice, support and activities throughout the year.
In addition to the RAs and PAs, the Bechtel Residence also has one live-in Residential Life Coordinator (RLC), who is a Masters level professional staff member, as well as two Faculty-in-Residence (FIR) families!
Programs and activities in Bechtel are hosted by Resident Associates (RAs), Peer Advocates (PAs), Faculty in Residence (FIRs) and the Residential Life Coordinator (RLC). Students are also encouraged to bring up their own event ideas. Events and programs in the past have included: movie nights, paint and craft events, yoga on the courtyard lawn, midterm and finals goodie bags, bubble soccer, baking events, sports game viewings, suite crawls, game nights, cooking events and much more!