Doing Harvard's Dirty Work

Dorm Crew, Babysitters Prepare to Receive Alumni

What's the difference between a college dormitory and a 25th reunion celebration?

One week and several hundred dorm crew workers.

To get the dormitories ready for the first joint Harvard-Radcliffe reunion, the custodial departments have been sweeping, scrubbing and mopping the rooms into acceptable shape, as reunion planners prepare to accommodate as many as 800 children of the 635 alumni expected to return for their 25th reunion.

Planners say they charged a flat price for the week's activities of $695 per returning graduate, regardless of family size, because the 25th reunion is the last one that schedules activities for alumni children. They say they have charged one price per graduate, and not per person, for at least 15 years.

"If people are flying in from California, then they're already spending a lot of money to have their children with them," says reunion coordinator Marion Briefer. "Since the fee is a bargain even for one person, it encourages people to bring their children along."

Last week's preparations, while strenuous, were only half the job. The other half is taking care of the children of the alumni who will be staying for the week.

The number and age of each graduate's children determines where they lives this week, says Lisa O. Monaco '90, the student coordinator for the 25th reunion. "Junior families," with many small children, live mainly in the Yard, while others are assigned to the Houses.

Radcliffe alumnae will be assigned rooms in the Yard or in river Houses, Monaco adds, unless they ask to stay in their undergraduate houses at the Quad. Members of the Radcliffe Class of 1938 will be the Quad's main tenants for the next week.

Reunion planners say they will divide the 800 children into groups by age, as they have done in past years. The groups, from the "grapes," ages six to nine, to the "blues," over 18, will take field trips in the area.

"They'll do activities during the day with their groups, like going to the beach or to museums," Monaco says, "whatever is pertinent to the age group."

Harvard students acting as counselors will lead the groups in a variety of activities during the week. Student babysitters will care individually for children under six.

"We took them to the circus, the aquarium and the zoo," says Joanna M. Miller '88 who was a counselor two years ago.

The counselors applied for their positions during the year and were interviewed by the directors Monaco says. She adds that the looking for enthusiasm and responsibility, and,above all, enough energy to handle the youngerkids.

"It's a long day from eight in the morning to10 at night, and that might get to be a drag,"predicts neophyte Ellen J. Rubin '89. "I'm kind ofshort so I might not be too good of an authorityfigure, but I can yell really loud."

Night counselors will make sure that thechildren go to sleep after the day's activities,Monaco says, by sitting in the entryways of thedorms until all the parents are in.