Graduate Student Office Committee




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The Office Committee is a committee normally composed of two students and one administrative person set up to deal with student office assignment for the CIS department. The role of the administrative person is to collect information about office space being freed, to coordinate the handling and receiving of keys, and to deal with other, related matters. The role of the student(s) is to maintain this website, hold an office assignment lottery (administered via this website), and process the data on current students to determine who can be put into the available office space.

The following policy statement concerns the assignment of offices for CIS graduate students only. Allotment of offices for others such as visiting scholars or post-doctoral students is handled by the faculty. This committee has jurisdiction over all Computer Science graduate student offices in the GRW and Levine buildings.  Offices within laboratories (GRASP, DSL, HMS, IRCS, PRECISE, etc.) are outside the control of the committee.  

Once a year (or once a semester if necessary) the Office Committee makes a major offering of office space. This offering is based on those desks that have been vacated since the last allocation due to graduation, attrition, or other means. At that time students interested in one of the available spaces are asked to apply to the committee, supplying a collection of relevant data. The students are then ranked as described below, and the assignments made.

Once a Ph.D. student has received an office assignment, it is theirs to keep as long as they remain a full-time student. (If the student is in an office which is reserved for students in a particular research area, and the student changes to a different area, then they may be asked to change offices in the next lottery process.)  

In general, as long as you are happy with your office, you need only to indicate on the yearly lottery form your desire to retain your current space.  Please note though that if you do not submit the form at all, the committee will assume you no longer require a space, and will allocate yours to another student. 

As in previous years, we are unable to offer offices to Master's students. We encourage you to use Moore 207. 

Incoming first-year students are assigned to a special office space in the large center office in the basement of GRW.  Because many first year students are not certain or change their minds about what area they wish to work in, the students and faculty felt it would be better for all concerned if first year students were not immediately placed into office space that is associated with a particular lab. We also feel that it is important that all the first year students get to know each other --- during the first year you meet lots of people in areas not in your field of interest and after the first year most people split off into assorted specialized areas and don't usually interact with persons from other specializations. Thus, new first-year students DO NOT need to participate in the lottery process since their spaces are already reserved and allocated automatically.

While most of the office allocation process flows as described in this note, nothing is ever that simple. Therefore, the committee will also decide on special cases (described below), complaints and rejection cases. The committee reserves the right to modify assignments made by the allocation algorithm in order to satisfy special circumstances.


Priority Ranking

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The principle factor in the ranking of students for office allocation is academic standing in the department in terms of progress made towards a Ph.D. degree. Full-time Ph.D. students are given absolute priority in the office allocation process.

Since part time students are presumably less often on campus, they have 0 priority unless they become full time at which point there priority is determined in terms of the number of courses they have taken (as described below).

The exception to this last rule is that during any semester that a part-time student is fulfilling the teaching practicum, they are treated as though they were full-time. This is done since teaching assistants must have a place to meet with students. The allocation is, however, good only for as long as they are doing teaching practicum, and must be surrendered at the end of the semester.

If you received your MS at Penn before entering the PhD program, the semesters you attended while in the Masters program are only counted if they immediately preceded your entry into the PhD program.

Ties are broken on a random basis. It is the hope of the Office Committee that enough spaces will be available for all those full-time PhD students who request it, but this may not always be possible. 

Office Assignment Criteria --- the following enumerates the additional criteria by which we assign points for the ranking:

Sharing Offices

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The office space on the 5th and 6th floors of Levine and the 4th and 5th floor of GRW is particularly intended for students whose advisors will also be seated on those floors.  (Students are thus grouped into "research clusters" according to their advisor's area of research. If there is insufficient room for students on a particular floor, then a satellite research cluster area may be established on a different floor to allow students with similar research areas to sit together.) In general, we try to place students as close as possible to their advisors or other students in their research area. Other, secondary preferences indicated by a student on their lottery form are taken into consideration after this.

It often happens that two students indicate on their lottery forms that they wish to share an office together. The Committee will try to take such desires into account. In general, though, we will not allow such desires to boost a lower ranked student over a higher ranked one. 

Special Cases

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Students who are accepted to the department into an advanced level should fall in this category. If the faculty strongly feels that certain person should be dealt with as a special case, they can bring the case to the committee who will decide upon it.

Desk Assignment Within an Office

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Desk assignments within an office should be handled internally, in some manner deemed equitable by the students involved. Students already residing in a given office should have priority in selecting a desk over incoming students.  We would encourage students in large eight-person offices to select desks close to other students in similar research areas whom they may confer or collaborate with.

Key Deposit

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A deposit of $10 will be asked of all students picking up an office key. This deposit will be refunded upon returning the key at the time of move out or office change. (If you lose your key, you will be charged an additional $10.) The contact person for office keys is the administrative assistant in Levine 302.  No student will be allowed a key to a student office until the Office Committee has sent an authorization e-mail to this assistant.