Leverett Spirited, Close-Knit

TOURING THE HOUSES Last in a continuing series on House life.

When Albert S. Colman '94 stands up in the dining hall, claps his silverware against a salad bowl and announces the latest intramural competition, people in Leverett House listen.

Intramurals are serious business at Leverett. As Straus Cup champions three of the last four years, Leverett House has developed an image as the home of the sub-JV, high school athlete.

And in the wake of the perils of the non-ordered choice lottery, Leverett has emerged as the quintissential "Quadbuster" fourth-choice house. In other words, many people pick Leverett, but only as the alternative to living in the Radcliffe Quad.

While Leverett residents admit that their house may not have been their initial choice, they contend that they grow to love their unsightly dwelling.

"Most students put Leverett as their third or fourth choice, a house they use to avoid randomization," says Colman. "But when people get here they realize it should have been their first choice."

House committee Co-Chair Julie S. Shienblatt '94 agrees. "The atmosphere here is definitely friendlier than in any other house."

That friendliness would appear to manifest itself in house enthusiasm. More than 100 students regularly participate in house intramural activities, says Colman, who heads the intramurals program.

Christopher P. Scully '94 approximates that between 65 and 75 percent of Leverett residents participate in intramural activities at some point during the school year.

"We have the momentum now to keep up this winning streak," Scully, who also helps to direct the intramural events, says. "Sophomores entering in the fall see how much fun it is to play and win, and it's easy to get them involved."

Both Colman and Scully attribute the house's athletic success to the relaxed ambience of Leverett, a "stereotype-free house where everyone can feel comfortable."

Senior Tutor Gordon Harvey characterizes Leverett as "big, friendly and unpretentious--our dining hall provides the perfect symbol of Leverett--it's wide, open and spacious--communal, yet elegant."

But Leverett House has struggled to shed its image as the house of the ugly towers with no heating, the hideous dining hall and the amorphous atmosphere.

Students point unhappily to the "aesthetically unpleasing" towers which house a majority of Leverett residents. "There are worse places on planet earth to live," says Delouis Terlonge '96. "Like on the street."

In the dining hall, a perplexing series of student artwork which perplexes is displayed prominently. "It's a lot better than looking at portaits of old men no-one recognizes," says tutor Wendy Kohn. "But I have witnessed some really interesting reactions to some of the exhibits."

She describes one of the self-portaits which presently hangs at Leverett. "It's just a self portrait, but I've heard people say things like 'I guess I'm not used to having all these women look down on me,'" she says. "I even heard one say 'She must be a feminist or something.' People have such violent reactions, particularly to this one piece which is really expressionless."

The artwork, the gray walls, and the odd chandeliers may now comprise students' grievances regarding their dining facility, but until recently the food was considered to be the worst at Harvard. "When I was a freshman, the dining hall was awful, but now it's the best," says Aaron J. Snow '93.

Energetic new dining hall management has revived the torpid presentation of provisions, say Snow and other students.

"There is a universal impression that the dining hall has been vastly improved in the last two years," concurrs tutor Douglass Pinkard.

Meals often provide the only time when students from the towers associate with their housemates in McKinlock, "old" Leverett. "A lot of people hang out in the [Leverett] Grille, and it's a very relaxed place to get to know people," says Josephine S. Navarro '94. "But it's kind of far for non-tower people to trek."

Despite the physical separation, Leverett inhabitants comment on the easy going unity which prospers in the stereotype-free house.

"We have so many different kinds of people that it's easy to find a niche," says Pinkard. "It seems like students feel comfortable with each other--they all just want to be one of the gang."

This year, Leverett has become famous as the home of Harvard celebrities: Olympic hockey player Ted Drury '93-'94 and Karenna Gore '95, daughter of Vice President Al Gore '69.

Have the presence of Harvard's cultural elite made a mark among Leverett's amateur jocks?

"Not at all," says Harvey. "We don't have people grandstanding here, immersed in their own senses of importance."

Especially in the vast towers, which some students revere for their views of the river. "If you live in the towers, you also don't have to look at them," says Snow.

The cement block towers inspire much dismay among those who revere refinement, say residents. "Being an architect, I'm very glad I live in old," says Kohn. "Nonetheless, anywhere in Leverett is a fun place to live."CrimsonClaudia LioredaA view of a Leverett House building from inside the courtyard.