Wilson Announces Plans To Open Common Room

Radcliffe College President Linda S. Wilson announced plans yesterday to establish a new common room for both male and female students at Agassiz House.

The announcement came in response to long-time requests by students, alumnae and staff for a women's center that would address the problems faced by women at Harvard.

"I've been hearing from students that they'd really like to have a place for people to gather and to share ideas and information informally," Wilson told about 25 students at a meeting in Agassiz House yesterday evening.

The Lyman Common Room, named for Susan S. Lyman '48, former chair of the Radcliffe Board of Trustees, will provide resources and services for women and give alumnae and staff a place to better interact with students, Wilson said.

The common room will also be used "for just plain social environment," Wilson said.

Wilson said that although plans to construct the common room are definite, details regarding the center will be decided with the help of students and alumnae.

"A lot of it is yet to be designed," Wilson said. "It must serve the mission of the college."

A task force, consisting of students, alumnae and staff, will be established in the near future and will work over the summer to design the room. The taskforce will work on finalizing the structure, management and hours of the center, Wilson said.

Radcliffe students have long demanded a women's center, a focus for social life where women's issues could be explored and groups could meet.

Rachel K. Laser '91, head of the Women's Center, a student organization, said she was enthusiastic about the creation of the common room, and said that her group would hold its events there, but added that she had hoped more space would be available.

Ann E. Blais '91, co-president of the Radcliffe Union of Students (RUS), said she supports the creation of the common room but still has some reservations.

"This is sort of cross-generationally oriented," said Blais. "I don't think it precludes the need for a student-run women's center."

"The Lyman Common Room should always be an important place to socialize and network informally, but does not supercede the necessity for a multi-room facility designated as a women's center," said Serena Y. Volpp '92, RUS co-president and head of an RUS ad hoc committee investigating possible women's center locations.