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CHI 2019 SV Selection Process

Dear community members,

We recently selected Student Volunteers for CHI 2019. As of now we have 175 lucky students that will get to be SVs at CHI and help us make sure that the conference runs well and smoothly. This represents an acceptance rate of only about 15% as we had 1,204 students enroll to become SVs. While the SV program generally relies on official CHI media posts and word-of-mouth to get students enrolled in the selection process, this year as a way to try to improve the diversity in our lottery pool we have also reached out to all local SIGCHI chapters asking them to share with their students that enrollment was open. The final selection of students is partially random and partially otherwise selected. Let’s break down what that means and the numbers. There are three ways for a student to become a student volunteer at CHI:

PC Meeting SVs

These are SVs that are local to the city where the Program Committee (PC) meeting will happen. These students are locally recruited and selected based on their availability in relation to the required hours for the PC meeting. This year 19 students were PC meeting SVs (~11%).

Nominated SVs

Students can be nominated by members of the Program or Organizing Committees to become SVs. This year 40 slots (~20%) were reserved for these students. We received 227 nominations, but unfortunately 29 of those students did not register at, so they were not considered. This means that there were 198 students for 40 slots, an acceptance rate of about 20%. The SVs selected from the nominated students were selected in one of two ways:

    1. 15 of the 40 slots were selected based on the information provided by the nominator. We looked for strong recommendations on the person’s ability to perform SV-related tasks, we looked for opportunities to increase the diversity of the SV group, and we looked for people who would benefit the most from being an SV for the current year.
  1. 25 of the 40 slots were selected through a random lottery.

General Selection SVs

Students can also be selected from the general selection process to become SVs. This year there were 106 slots available and, at the time of the selection, 1,141 students enrolled. This means only a 9% chance of getting in! There are two ways for a student to be selected at this step:

    1. 35 of 106 slots (or 20% of total slots) were selected as “institutional knowledge SVs.” These are students that have been SVs at CHI before, are experienced with a variety of tasks, and can help train the incoming class of SVs. All of them were exceptional SVs in previous years (e.g., always on time AND very proactive AND helpful to others on/off duty AND went above the requirements for their current task).  Many of them are trained in specialized tasks. Unfortunately due to the high competition for a SV slot, we couldn’t accept all students that fit this description. There were many more past SVs we would have loved to have back, but it was important to us to give people who are new to CHI a chance as well. We could only bring back approximately 50% of past SVs that were in this group.
  1. The remaining 81 of the 106 slots (or ~46% of the total slots) are randomly selected from a weighted lottery.

Weighted Lottery

The current lottery system, built into, assigns one ticket per student enrolled. We can also increase the number of tickets assigned to a student (a.k.a. influence the likelihood that a type of student has to win the lottery) based on:

    • Whether a student is local;
    • Whether a student has attended CHI before;
    • Whether a student needs a VISA for the conference;
    • The type of program the student is currently in (BA/MA/PhD); and,
  • Whether a student has been a SV at CHI before.

This year, to ensure we gave opportunities to many new students, we granted two extra tickets to people who have NOT attended CHI before and one extra ticket to students who have NOT been SVs at CHI before. Thus, the likelihood to get accepted increases for people with higher ticket counts (up to 4 this year), but students with low ticket counts still have a chance to win the lottery. As all of the factors mentioned above are optional, we did not give extra tickets depending on whether the student is local, whether they need a visa, or their level of study, as we did not believe these aspects aligned with our goals.

Lastly, we are working with a student to upgrade the system. This means improving parts related to logistics during the conference, making the interface more inclusive and accessible, and improving the lottery process. We are investigating opportunities for future chairs to tailor the population of SVs, especially to increase the diversity of the SV program. If you have suggestions on aspects that should be built into the new lottery system, please consider taking a few minutes and writing up your opinions here.

And who got in?

While these numbers are not final as sometimes students give up their SV slot (e.g. because of visas, funding, personal reasons, etc.), they represent the SVs that were selected from the process above. The CHI 2019 SVs are:

    • from 39 different nationalities and 100 different universities;
    • almost half first time CHI attendees (85, 49%);
  • largely new to the CHI SV program (126, ~72% have never been CHI SVs);

However, there are two big things to note. All information is self-reported and we rely on students filling them correctly. Also, our incoming SVs are only as diverse as the pool from which the lottery is drawn! We worked hard this year to reach out to all local SIGCHI chapters, but the best way to ensure more diversity in the SV program is to encourage students in your country, university, and department to enroll.