Getting to Know Your House

Ever since the middle of March when freshmen had to declare their housing preferences, the Yardlings have been exploring possible future residences. They have wandered from Cabot to Kirkland in search of a taste of upperclass living. With assignments in hand, many are now asking the question, "It's a nice place to visit, but would I want to live there?"

Separating fact from fiction about life in the upperclass houses is one of the most challenging parts of moving out of Harvard Yard. What will it really be like to live with juniors and seniors? Does the Quad provide the most diversified living arrangements on campus? How true are the stereotypes?

The next step for rising sophomores in the annual quest for Harvard housing is the barrage of orientations and get-acquainted dances that will introduce frosh to their houses. We asked the 13 house committee chairmen to comment briefly on the most notable characteristics of life in their respective accommodations.

Chairmen were asked:

1. What's the best thing about your house?

2. What's the worst thing about your house?

3. What are the most unique attractions/events associated with your house (eg. Eliot's Jimmy Fund, Currier's Dance Marathon, Lowell's Waltz, etc.)?

4. What sort of internal lottery does your house have to assign rooms this year?

5. Does your house have some sort of orientation session for incoming sophomores? If so, when and where?

6. What stereotypes are true or false about your house?

7. How active a role does your master play in the house (e.g. attends most activities, social teas, house committee, available for a casual dinner, or by appointment only)?


Matthew P. Cohn '87

History Concentrator

Rockville Center, NY


John Tomlinson '87

East Asian Studies Concentrator

New York, NY

1. There are a lot of talented and socially conscious people who make interesting conversation. Our house has great rooms and a cozy library. Our house has a lot of facilities, such as an indoor pool, and the Bow and Arrow Press--a working printing press which students can use for posters and invitations.

2. There is little "Adams House spirit," and too many "interhousers" come to lunch. Unfortunately there are many cockroaches in areas of the house. Sometimes people complain of noise from the Lampoon's loud parties.

3. There is the Adams House Raft Race, which beginning this year will be co-sponsored by the Undergraduate Council. Also, each fall the house has an interesting Halloween dance, and every spring we have a traditional waltz.

4. There are two separate lotteries--one for rising seniors, and afterwards one for juniors. Rooming groups' lottery numbers are drawn out of a hat, and groups can select from among all the available rooms starting April 23. Sophomores are assigned rooms over the summer.

5. On April 25, there will be a welcoming reception in Randolph Court.

6. In our estimation, there is no justifiable stereotypical Adams House student.

7. Master Kiely holds teas every other week in his study in Apthorp House. He and his wife, Jana, are often available for meals and appointments. Both are very concerned with the quality of life at Adams and are very willing to help out the House Committee when we need them.


Lori E. Lesser '88

Economics Concentrator

Houston, TX

1. Cabot House exemplifies Harvard's best buzzword--diversity. The House has an exciting mix of creative, active students and a lively tutorial and house staff...The physical facilities may soon be the best on campus (with a little luck and funding). Other favorites mentioned: the rollomatic toaster, movie nights with the VCR, good parties, and the Quad roofs and grounds as "beaches" in the spring.

2. The perennial Quad complaints still apply: that brisk walk to the Yard in the morning and breathing-optional rides in the shuttle bus During the renovations, the house may be in various levels of disarray. However, the conditions in buildings like Eliot (euphemistically called a dorm with "character") make the mess worthwhile. Students also cited "Lake Barnard" during rainstorms, the inevitable "Quad Moat" after rainstorms, a current wide disparity of housing, shuttle bus speed bumps, and a less-than-stellar salad bar.

3. Cabot House sponsors Cookin', the Friday night campus nightclub, and the new Club Zeus, a Saturday night dance club, in the Cabot Hall basement. The house SCR includes Mike Dukakis and Bill Walton. Cabot also boasts hamburgers on request at every meal, milk and cookies every Sunday night, a spring cricket match, and the "Six-Man Suite."

4. After seniors and juniors pick rooms, the master's assistant holds a new lottery for sophomore picking order within the class. She then integrates the rooming group order with groups' preferences (singles vs. suites, apartments, etc.).

5. Incoming sophomores are assigned big sisters and brothers. Prospective Cabotites are treated as house members, receiving tickets to the spring ball, all house parties and several upcoming get-acquainted functions.

6. Cabot House has no stereotype. In fact this is one of its strongest features, according to most Cabot residents. Cabot is thought of as social and active. This is true, but it's not a very confining stereotype.

7. Myra Mayman attempts many creative projects for the house and sponsors weekly open houses with different cultural themes and food. She is accessible at Friday open houses and five days a week at the Office of the Arts, where she serves as director.


Karen Bergreen '87

History Concentrator

New York, NY

1. Diversity and democracy. This house is constantly questioning conventions which might never be questioned in another situation, however each decision to change results from thorough self-education. The house is centrally organized so you don't have to go outside to eat, unless you live at Cogg or Jordan Coops. There are lots of activities in drama, music, politics, etc...

2. Sometimes our constant questions cause friction between groups within the house. But worse...stigma--we have to prove ourselves because the University institutions--including this paper--treat the Quad as inferior. It's a constant battle with a reputation which the administration, organizations, and non-Quadlings perpetuate.

3. There is the Currier House Dance Marathon and house-wide activites like gameshows. In terms of the physical plant, we have great music facilities, excellent bathrooms and good party space.

4. In the spring, rooming groups with rising seniors and juniors are lotteried according to numbers assigned to the block. The largest suites are arranged first, and then the lottery numbers are rearranged after each round. Sophomores submit room preferences in spring and find out next summer.

5. Rising sophomores are invited to our annual Spring Weekend, and during freshman week we have a week of activities: movies, dances, outing-bikes etc., milk and cookies every night, and a special trip to Cranes Beach for sophomores.

6. It's true we do have a large population of minorities, but this adds to our diversity. Currier is not a "minority house," but rather a place where minorities feel comfortable. The walk is ONLY 12 minutes.

7. The Hershbachs are incredibly active, but they're leaving at the end of the year.


Evan M. Supcoff '88

Social Studies Concentrator

Oceanside, NY

and Scott Easton '88

Government Concentrator

Cedar Rapids, IA

1. The best part of Dudley House is that we have transfer students, married students, and graduate students--and they all offer something to the house which makes us diverse. Dudley gives students living off campus more freedom than students living in traditional dormitories.

2. There is a separation in our student body with everybody living in different places, so that there is not a lot of shared experience that you would get in a dormitory. The rest of the student body frequently doesn't acknowledge that off-campus students exist to begin with.

3. This is our 50th anniversary year, so we've had lots of celebrations and a house dinner with President Bok. In addition, Dudley has: a luncheon series with guest speakers; a semi-formal at the end of this month; a senior dinner; and house barbecues.

4. There is no lottery system for off-campus living.

5. There is an orientation for transfer students, but next year there will be one for all members of the house. Dudley has a Transfer Host Program to introduce high school students and undergraduates to off-campus living.

6. The false stereotype is that this is a dead house. We just don't live in one house. People don't realize that like any other house, we have teas, pool, foosball, luncheons, and teas.

7. The Loebs really are cooperative and supportive. They invite house committee to the Masters Advisory Council so that students can take part in the administration of the house.


Antonia E. Foias '87

Anthropology Concentrator

Bloomington, IN


Fernando R. Laguarda '88

Government Concentrator

Sherborn, MA

1. Dunster is a real community: small enough to be a "home" while diverse enough to be interesting and lively. Residents are involved in everything, but when they all come home, Dunster is the place to be. It really is a great place to live and enjoy "those college years."

2. People think you have to know how to speak Pascal to get along at Dunster. Well, it's just not true! (Cobol or binary are helpful, though.) There is a little bit of the science-math stereotype, but no one type is prevalent here.

3. The annual Entryway Olympics with tunnel races, tricycle derbies, etc.. There is also a carnival with the Cambridge kids linked to Dunster through the HAND program.

4. Priority is by class: seniors get their preference, then juniors. Sophomores are assigned by the masters' assistants. Within each class, priority goes to larger-size rooming groups.

5. All incoming sophomores will get a letter detailing their initiation rites.

6. There are a lot of musicians, science majors, and math majors. Dunster, however, throws awesome parties. If you like diversity, Dunster has it. As for stereotypes, we have Pioneer, Nakamichi, Yamaha...all sorts.

7. Sally and Cresap Moore are extremely open, friendly, helpful, and accessible. They eat meals in the dining hall often. Once in a while, they join us at our parties. They have open houses with awesome food, study breaks, and ice cream bashes. They encourage student participation in tutor selection and other decisions concerning the house.


Jennifer Hall '87

History and Literature Concentrator

Duxbury, MA

1. The tutors are very caring, interested, and involved with students. In terms of facilities. Eliot has a 15,000-volume library, dark room, dance studio, typing room, music rooms, erg machines, and a universal. Among Eliot's other bonuses include: its close proximity to classrooms and athletic facilities; involvement with Cambridge through public service; the Spring Fete; and eating outside on the courtyard patio in warm weather.

2. Its reputation!

3. Special events at Eliot House include the Evening of Champions skating show to benefit the Dana Farber Institute's Jimmy Fund; the Winter Ball; an annual Casino Night where Master Heimert deals; an upcoming Cabaret Night; and an excellent house crew team.

4. Students select their top five choices and the master's assistant assigns rooms to maximize people getting their first choices within the constraints of space problems.

5. There is a sophomore dinner at the beginning of the fall. We also will give tours of the house in September to familiarize sophomores with our facilities. Incoming sophomores are invited to all Eliot House spring events, master's monthly open houses, the Fete, etc.

6. The only stereotype I am aware of is that Eliot House is full of snobby rich prep school students. This is not true, Eliot House follows the College's ratio of public to prep school graduates. While it is true that there are some snobby and some very rich students here, there are no more than in any other house. Eliot House has a more diverse student population than perceived--we have the largest Puerto Rican student population on campus.

7. Master Heimert does a lot for the house that many people don't know about--he is a master craftsman in woodworking and metal work and does a lot to keep Eliot House in great condition. He eats regularly in the dining hall and joins students.

(Edward S. Nekritz '87 is co-chairman of the Eliot House committee.)


William R. Koehler '87

Economics Concentrator

University Heights, OH

1. Without a doubt, the best part about Kirkland House is the people in it. The first thing that struck me coming into Kirkland sophomore year was the friendly atmosphere that was shared by everyone. The masters and tutors are very approachable, the superintendent is everyone's friend, and the students can't help but catch on. Being one of the smallest houses, it is easy for Kirkland students to get to know almost everyone in the house pretty well.

2. The worst thing about Kirkland House is the result of perceptions that outsiders maintain about the students living in it. These people use the "jock" label very freely in a negative context, viewing Kirkland residents almost as second-class residents in certain aspects of College life.

3. The house committee sponsors small social events called Stein Clubs once or twice a month. Christmas is traditionally the focal point of the year and activities culminate with a holiday dinner, and other Christmas traditions that date back to the beginning of the century.

4. Rooms are picked on a seniority basis. All those rooms with all seniors enter a lottery and pick their rooms, then those with all seniors and one junior. And so on.

5. For two weeks, an ice cream bash, Cabaret Night, a Dating Game skit, a Night at the Grill, and house tours are offered to display the character of the house. Sunday brunch is provided for new residents on one Sunday in April. Rising sophomores are also given an opportunity to meet the masters and students, and attend a house committee meeting.

6. The most obvious stereotype is that Kirkland students are all athletes majoring in economics. For the most part, that is very true. There are a good majority of both, but there are a wide variety of interests represented among students. The distribution, though, would favor economics. The false stereotype is that this collection of athletes and economists is a negative attribute. As is necessary in athletics, these people are driven to accomplish the many things which they undertake to do. They are quality people.

7. The Pfisters are extremely visible and approachable. They attend all social functions and most house committee meetings. They add their own input and are more than willing to give students their time.


Alan Bauer '87

Leverett House

Biochemistry Concentrator

Wilmette, IL

1. The warmth and friendliness of the students and tutors make Leverett one of the most relaxed and unpretentious of the houses.

2. The lack of communication between the masters, senior tutor and residents often leads students to feel a certain alienation.

3. For sophomores there is a special outing to Cape Cod and this spring, a formal dance at the Copley Marriott.

4. Returning blocks have the privilege of "freezing" their current rooms for next year if more than half of the group will return. Groups of seniors go first, groups of seniors--juniors second, and then juniors, etc.

5. The orientation session at Leverett consists of an upperclass big brother-sister program for incoming sophomores and the masters' outing to Cape Cod.

6. Diversity of groups: Leverett is a unique mix of people. We have 10 intercollegiate captains. We also have the most Phi Beta Kappa seniors. The Undergraduate Council chairman, former HSA president, and former band manager are a few of the many busy people in Leverett. Leverett is not apathetic; rather, we have a large number of people who are extremely busy with sports, jobs, etc. Student response to the heating grates incident disproves the notion of apathy."

7. The masters make every effort to attend house committee and house functions. They do not eat in the dining hall that frequently. Master Dowling tries to dictate social policy in the house, and his outspoken distaste for alcohol at Leverett functions has left many students with a bad feeling about social life in the house.

(Greg Campbell is co-chairman of the Leverett House committee.)


Jeanne Ackman '87

Lowell House

Biology Concentrator

Chappaqua, N.Y.


Sam Klepper '87

History and Science Concentrator

Rochester, N.Y.

1. The best thing about Lowell House, besides its central location and beautiful architecture, is the lack of peer pressure among its students. People can be themselves without feeling like they are being watched or evaluated.

2. The worst thing about Lowell House is that it does not have a swimming pool, but the Malkin-IAB is right next door.

3. We traditionally have a Bahamas party this month that features not only dancing to calypso and rock music, but also a raffle that entitles the winner to a trip for two to the Bahamas.

4. After the seniors and juniors choose their rooms, the remaining rooms are randomly distributed to rising sophomores.

5. We don't have an orientation session per se, but sponsor a number of events like the Bahamas party, Spring Soiree, and Dutch Auction party this spring, which will give freshmen an opportunity to meet people and become acquainted with the house.

6. While it is true that there are people who work hard in Lowell House, we believe that there are people who work hard in every house. What is not true is the stereotype often associated with hardworking people, i.e. one of dullness. Lowellians are friendly and fun.

7. Co-masters Bill and Mary Bossert make a noticeable effort to maintain close contact with house residents. They host weekly teas in their home, throw parties for each class, and hold frequent office hours. The Bosserts show a great concern for our comfort and well-being.


Karen E. Avery '87

Psych and Social Relations Concentrator

Albany, N.Y.

1. THE PEOPLE! Single Rooms, the View, the Food, the Tower, the weight room, the big screen T.V., the carpeting, the "Concreatery" (the grill), milk and cookies, weekly open houses, the Herlihys, the "Concrete Abstract," "Mathering Heights," the tutors, the staff, the uncrowded suites, even the free standing stairway in the house library. But most of all, the house spirit.

2. There are no bad things about Mather House. Right now the only bad thing is that the Herlihys are leaving. We'll all miss them very much.

3. Mather has the only weekly house newspaper, and it's called "The Concrete Abstract." Mather also has the only house soap opera, "Mathering Heights," which has an episode four times a year.

4. The seniors and juniors have separate lotteries in order to assign rooms. Each member of a rooming group draws a number in their respective lotteries, and the best number drawn represents that group. Each rooming group then selects their choice of room in order of their lottery number. Sophomore rooms are assigned at random.

5. Traditionally, the Herlihys have invited all of the sophomores to their home in Hull, Mass., for a fun-filled outing on the beach at the beginning of the year.

6. One of the nice things about Mather House is that it has no stereotype. Because the house has been primarily a second-choice house in the past, we get a very diverse group of students.

7. The Herlihys have been very active in the house. They attend all house functions, they appear in "Mathering Heights." they hold weekly open houses in their residence, they eat in the dining hall quite frequently, they are always accessible, warm, and approachable, and they support the students' wishes, and the activities planned by the house committee.


Stephen J. Gleason '87

Government Concentrator

St. Davids, PA

1. The best thing about North is the fact that there isn't a stereotype because all the athletes, for example, don't all apply here. The house is diverse. The tutorial staff and the masters are superb, and we've got a lot ofspirit. Our small size is a real advantage; we'rea close-knit house where everybody knows everybodyelse.

2. The location and physical plant aredisappointing, but the rooms are not so bad as thelack of common space. All rooms at North House aresingles; it would be better if people had theoption of choosing to live in a suite. Inaddition, we have two dining halls. People tend toeat in a certain hall and that's not good.

3. Events at North House include: a holidaytalent show with skits and songs; a spring fling(which won't be a booze cruise this year, but adance at the Lenora on Mass. Ave. on May 4); amasters' open house every Friday; and a winterformal.

4. A housing committee of two students and twomembers of the tutorial staff assign rooms torising sophomores according to what preferencesthey list in the spring. For juniors and seniors,there is a lottery and a big map from whichstudents select their room choices.

5. Orientation for sophomores began the daylottery assignments were given, when the housecommittee distributed North House grab bagsconsisting of a T-shirt, a shuttle bus schedule,and a list of upcoming activities. There was anice cream bash last week and a show by "On ThinIce."

6. North House doesn't really have astereotype, although some people say that it isgetting "jocky." People just don't think aboutstereotypes here like they do at the River houses

7. Woody and Hannah Hastings, who will returnfrom sabbatical next semester, are really cool.The masters offer small dinners throughout theyear, and they let students review tutors beforemaking selections.


Toby Kosowski '87

North Palm Beach, Florida


1. We have lots of parties, and lots offriendly people. Our dining hall and our grill andour pinball machine and our foosball table add tothe social atmosphere.

2. The new Quincy staircases are ugly.

3. Spring weekend, at the end of April in thecourtyard. There are bands, picnics, barbecues, acasino night, and class competitions. The weekbefore that is Arts Week, when talented people inWinthrop can perform for the rest of the house,and enjoy games, tie-dying and mask-making.

4. Rooms are assigned this month, and seniorityis awarded based on class year and where your'recoming from. Rising seniors who lived in OldQuincy would pick first, then rising seniors inNew Quincy, then the same for rising juniors. Oneperson from each rooming group picks a number forthe group. There are then separate lotteriesdepending on rooming group size: one for quints,one for quads, and so on. Rising sophomores areassigned rooms over the summer.

5. There's a special dinner for sophomores inthe fall. Rising sophomores will also receiveinvitations to a welcoming brunch and orientationmeeting this April, where they will meet withmasters, tutors and students. They are invited tothe spring formal, all spring weekend events, andArts Week.

6. Since we're the biggest house, we're totallydiverse and don't have any real stereotypes. Lastyear we had a Rhodes Scholar, a Marshall Scholar,and the captain of the football team. We havemembers of some of Harvard's most popular bands.Some people think the house is too big, but by theend of sophomore year you really can get to knowalmost everyone.

7. The Aloians are very willing to talk tostudents. They have a very popular sherry and openhouse every Thursday afternoon. In general,they're just very friendly and accessible. As anexample, last year Master Aloian bought us a VCR,which is now available for everyone in the houseto use.


Ted Chang '87

Flint, Michigan


1. Winthrop has a lot of spirit, and ralliesaround intramurals, parties, studies, and otherextracurriculars. The tutors are very involved inthe house, and the dining hall staff--especiallyMary--is great. It's a real work-hard, play-hardkind of house.

2. It's probably true that the house isn't asheterogeneous as we'd like to think.

3. Thropstock weekend, a big spring celebrationthe weekend before reading period. Includes a"no-talent" show, parties, entryway olympics withjello wrestling, and a harbor cruise. The WinthropHouse Music Society sponsors Beaux Arts Trioconcerts every year in Sanders Theater.

4. First, each resident is assigned a randomlottery number, and then members of each roominggroup use their best individual number. Risingseniors sit down together with a room plan, andclaim rooms in numerical order. The next day,rising juniors do the same with the rooms that areleft. Rising sophomores are also assigned randomnumbers, and they are assigned remaining roomsover the summer by the assistant to the master,who bases preference on their numbers.

5. Rising sophomores are invited to all springevents including the formal, and are of coursewelcome to come down any time. There will be aspecial welcoming brunch next Sunday, after whichthere will be an impromptu orientation meeting inthe JCR with the masters, tutors and housecommittee.

6. It is like "high school" in that it's verysocial and everyone has a lot of fun--but it's nottrue in the sense that everyone's immature.

7. The Davises actively participate in houselife. They attend house committee meetings andFriday Fests, throw great open houses, and eat inthe dining hall regularly