not always.... some schools I have heard have an alternate list that has priority to a list that they keep as a waitlist.... The alternates move to acceptances and the waitlisters move to alternates.... I would expect this type of organization to be at schools with a large amounts of movement.
I agree, one of the schools I am waitlisted at distinguished between the waitlist and the alternate. When I called to check on whether they received a letter I had sent, I was asked if I was on the waitlist or the alternate list. I don't know exactly what the difference is though...