Housing and Residential Services’ (HRS) online application system failed Thursday for the third time this year, prompting the switch from a first come, first served system to a lottery for on-campus housing hopefuls.

HRS has made several attempts to troubleshoot their website, which went down Feb. 1, 3 and 9, all to no avail. According to an e-mail sent to UCSB students, HRS will redistribute the load put onto the applications system — caused by too many students trying to register at one time — by switching to a lottery system. Students must apply by Feb. 21 to be considered for on-campus housing.

The few students who were able to get confirmation after successfully logging onto the application website during the first three sessions will also have to enter the raffle for university-owned housing.

HRS already uses a lottery to decide off-campus housing assignments, but this system gives priority to students with junior or senior standing. The on-campus housing lottery system will be set up differently in order to provide a more equitable distribution of the available spots, Pam Cort, manager of Residence Halls Assignment Services said. HRS plans to graduate the number of spaces by class, with about 50 spots for current juniors and up to 700 spots for current freshmen.

The HRS email said Microsoft has been contacted to troubleshoot the system, but representatives from Information Services — a subsidiary of HRS in charge of its online network — were unable to be reached for comment Friday or Sunday regarding the system failure.

HRS administrators have yet to decide whether they will upgrade or replace the software currently used for applications, Cort said.

Students’ response to the failure and upcoming lottery is mixed, with some students feeling it provides a fair solution and others upset about leaving their housing choices to mere chance.

“There are so many people trying to sign in that there is no other way to give everyone a fair chance,” Jessie Lee, an undeclared freshman, said. “I tried to register, but the site had crashed. It was kind of annoying.”

Emily Boomis, an undeclared freshman, said she thinks the switch penalizes students who were diligent about signing up on time.

“There are advantages and disadvantages to the lottery,” Boomis said. “But the fact that it was first-come, first served was a way of giving benefits to the people who were paying attention.”

Boomis said she and her friends have been planning their housing selection for a while and find the new situation frustrating.

“We’re all pretty pissed off [about having to participate in the lottery],” Boomis said. “We are planning to live in San Rafael in an eight person suite, and seven out of eight of us had already gotten confirmations.”