The Rooming Problem (And How To Fix It)

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The Rooming Problem (And How To Fix It)

Post by joycan98 »

The Problem

I was the only woman on my ACF Nationals team this year. Unfortunately, this seems to be the norm for women who play national events. As a result, here were my options for rooming:
1. Share a room with three guys, two of whom are significantly older than me. Despite the incredible love and trust I hold for my teammates, this would have made me extremely uncomfortable, and my mother probably would have had a heart attack.
2. Get a room of my own. Like many quizbowl clubs, Harvard's club is very broke, so this was never really a real option.
3. Find a girl on a different team to room with.* This was obviously the best option of the three, but at the time of making plans for ACF Nationals, I knew one (1) other girl who was also going to ACF Nationals. There are not a huge number of women who attend Nationals, and I'm honestly impressed I knew anyone at all, given that I joined the college quizbowl community less than a year ago.

Thankfully, option 3 ended up working out (thank you Megan!)--otherwise, there is a real chance I would not have attended Nationals. I know at least one woman who did not attend Nationals for the express reason of not wanting to room with exclusively male teammates. If we're interested in getting more women to play higher-level quizbowl (as we all should be), this seems like a pretty big problem to overlook.

This problem is also not unique to ACF Nationals. I imagine there are similar issues with the ICT, and perhaps to a lesser degree with high school national tournaments. I had the same problem last year at Chicago Open--I went with option 1, and my teammates thankfully caused no problems, but my mom did in fact have a (justified) very panicked reaction. Luckily, I will not have this problem at CO this year, as Forrest and I get to set records at CO by getting the earliest buzz of any team on the extremely challenging Bechdel test tossup.

The Solution

Fairly self-explanatory: governing bodies/tournament directors should offer a roommate pairing service for any tournament where people are expected to stay overnight at the tournament site. This can look as simple as "email us if you need a roommate, and we'll match you with someone," or it could take some more sophisticated form. I urge ACF, NAQT, PACE, the organizers of CO, and anyone else running a national tournament to implement this for next year. The question of "why don't more women play hard quizbowl" has many complex answers, but "they can't find roommates" is a fairly surface-level one that's also pretty easy to fix.

*It has been brought to my attention that there may be an additional problem with option 3 depending on how different clubs function, which is that it may not be possible for administrations/official funds to pay for a fraction of a hotel room. I'm not sure what an ideal solution to this looks like, but my immediate thought is that ACF/NAQT/PACE/etc. could reserve a block of rooms for people who can't room with their teams, and then add the partial cost of those rooms to teams' registration costs.

TLDR: ACF, NAQT, PACE, and anyone else who holds a national tournament should help people, especially women, find roommates.
Joy An, Harvard
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Re: The Rooming Problem (And How To Fix It)

Post by Aaron's Rod »

I'm not sure that the solution needs to be centralized. In the pre-COVID days, people would just post on the forums (see 2019, 2018). I'm not sure where the best place to get a similar message out nowadays is, you'd know better than I--it might still be the forums, as it would probably get buried on Discord.
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Re: The Rooming Problem (And How To Fix It)

Post by ThisIsMyUsername »

One thing that struck me about Joy’s otherwise excellent post is that it addresses only national tournaments and opens. This is certainly understandable, since national tournaments and opens are where this problem would be particularly prevalent. And of course, even if this problem could be addressed only at that level, that would be valuable progress.

But in certain regions, overnight stays are inevitable during much of the season, because many sites are too far away to drive to and from in the same day. I assume that in such regions, women who don't room with men (and aren't part of clubs with hefty budgets) just don’t travel to tournaments, period, rather than just not going to national/open tournaments. For most of these cases, Joy’s proposed solution would not work, because there isn’t necessary a “governing body,” the hosts (which are just college clubs) can’t be making hotel arrangements themselves for visiting players, and the TDs for most these regional sites have barely any experience at running the tournament itself and therefore can’t devote attention to anything else.

I wonder, then, whether it might not make more sense to have some kind of resource (a forums thread? a Discord channel? I don't know what young people use any longer) that operates year round (and that is well-moderated by a responsible adult) and whose purpose is to allow potential roommates to connect. It would presumably get a lot more traffic during national and open tournaments, but would fundamentally work the same way during the rest of the season. And in addition to allowing potential roommates to contact each other, it might be good for it to list best practices for people who have never done this before. I know of female players who have already formed a network of sorts for making such arrangements. But presumably, they were able to do that only once they were integrated enough into the community to have interacted with other players they could then reach out to (a problem Joy expresses in her original post). I’m sure there are club presidents who regularly send out “Sign up here if you want to come to Tournament X” e-mails to their (potential) players—e-mails that would surely benefit from including a link with a resource such potential players can use if they need to make other travel arrangements in order to feel comfortable attending. (Right now, a club president who isn't themselves well-connected in the community might have trouble helping a player who came to them with this request.)
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Re: The Rooming Problem (And How To Fix It)

Post by JohnN »

I think this is a good idea and would like to integrate it in some format into 2025 ACF Nationals (and beyond but I fear that is looking too far beyond my current Treasurer tenure). I could foresee potentially enlarging/taking some of the team hotel courtesy block we offered this year and setting aside at least a couple rooms to help solve this problem. I could see a couple logistical issues such as 1. We cannot get a team hotel block for whatever reason or 2. We only end up having a very small amount of people sign up for this which would cause one person to either have to buy the entire hotel room themselves anyways or choose to instead resort back to rooming with potentially male teammates which of course would not really solve the issue at all from a large institutional level. For me, this would then beg the question of how do we choose who we let pair up and who we tell they would need to buy their own room in the potential scenario we have a non-evenly split number of people signing up for this (hypothetical numbers but if we potentially have 5 people, would we do a 4-1 split or a 3-2 split? And how would we determine who pays more/less, or would we just split the cost of two rooms between all 5 people in this hypothetical solution)?

In my experience as ACF Treasurer, it wouldn't be difficult at all to add the cost of the hotel to the Nationals Invoice, assuming one specific college doesn't either have a funding cap or need a breakdown of costs. This should solve the potential cost splitting problem between people who stay in the same room from different schools short of how would we split costs if 2 players in a 3 player room have to share a bed since it could potentially be seen as unfair for the person in a whole bed by themselves is paying the same price as the other 2, but that seems to me like more of an issue the people staying in the room should be able to work out amongst themselves than something that needs an institution such as ACF to answer for them.
John Nienajadlo
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University of Florida 2024
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Re: The Rooming Problem (And How To Fix It)

Post by Sit Quietly, Alone »

this is a necessary thread. i'm fully on board with joy's "option 3" being given more institutional backing. as john notes, this requires some consideration of club funding schemes, so i'll just lay out virginia's and follow where it leads.

uva's quizbowl club, like other uva clubs, is eligible for reimbursement for some number of four-person rooms. if we take four people, we're reimbursed for one room. interestingly, this is capped at $100/night. i actually don't know what happens if we take five or six people; my assumption is that we'd stand a solid chance of only being reimbursed for one room's worth, while a seven or eight-person contingent would likely get the full two hundred. now, presumably, for a club like ours—not to assume that any club is exactly like ours—the solution would look something like 3, maybe 2 men staying in the "main" uva room that we submit in our reimbursement form and 1, maybe 2 women staying in the tournament-organized room.* (i'll note that, in a 2-2 scenario, we'd be most likely to go with one four-person room and have those with the nearest gender identities share a bed. other teams' mileage may vary. still, i'd expect the tournament-organized rooms to be mostly populated by those who are the singular odd women out on their squads.)

i'll go ahead with the 3-1 scenario, assuming a total cost of $150/room/night. if we chose option 1, we'd spend a net $50/night, after reimbursement; if we chose option 2, we'd spend a net $200/night; if we chose option 3, we'd pay for some fraction of an additional room. the most optimistic outcome would be one in which we'd be on the hook for one-quarter of the other room, so $37.50/night more than in option 1. but then, john is right to ask how to divide the expense among players if the interest isn't divisible by 4. i'd call it wisest to split the total cost of all rooms by the total number of lodging players, so $60/player if you need 2 rooms for 5 people. but that's just about the worst-case option, in which (interested players) mod 4 is 1 and there's the smallest possible number of players to split the remainder among.

the upshot is that uva would spend between thirty-seven & sixty $/night extra to go with option 3 over option 2, assuming a room cost of $150/night. the range is [50,80] for $200/night/room, and [62.50,100] for $250/night/room. these are charges we'd be perfectly willing to pay, if it means making our teammates feel as comfortable as they ought to. my hope is that other clubs feel the same. i'd love those from schools with different funding schemes to talk and post about what implications this sort of thing would have for them. is uva representative of the sort of expense this would add? are we near either extreme? the answers to these questions would seem to matter a lot for determining whether this proposal will/could take off.

*i feel there should be a good name for the room created by this policy. "overflow room" would imply that woman are some extra, nonessential component of the quizbowl community, which is wrong and harmful; "female room" or anything like that is also not ideal. i propose "ao3," short for "accommodation of our own," but am willing to adopt another term. perhaps "joy room"?
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Re: The Rooming Problem (And How To Fix It)

Post by Stinkweed Imp »

Sit Quietly, Alone wrote: Sun May 05, 2024 11:43 am *i feel there should be a good name for the room created by this policy. "overflow room" would imply that woman are some extra, nonessential component of the quizbowl community, which is wrong and harmful; "female room" or anything like that is also not ideal. i propose "ao3," short for "accommodation of our own," but am willing to adopt another term. perhaps "joy room"?
Vivian Malouf
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