Despite Holidays, Stragglers Remain

If you can read this article, you are standing too close to Harvard Square.

The dining halls have emptied and your roommates have headed home for the holidays. Why are so many Harvard students still here?

With classes ending today, the main on-campus events have been this weekend's parties. Most of the hardy souls who attended them, however, remain here to hand in papers and problem sets.

"They try to squeeze in so many papers. I'm just thinking about going home," said Stephanie W. Lee '96.

Student estimates of the number of undergraduates who have departed for the holiday ranged from 30 to 80 percent yesterday afternoon. Most of the estimates were around 50 percent.

James J. Wallace '97 said he was "sticking around to do some last-minute procrastination."

The administration chose to end classes on a Tuesday due to the need to fit a required number of school days into the year, said Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57. "Personally, I think [the schedule] is a mistake," he added.

Many students who were here decided not to go to class today, arguing that the lecture halls would be empty and the material extraneous.

"We're slackers," said a pair of anonymous students in the Quincy House dining hall.

Those who did attend classes often did so involuntarily.

"I went to class to hand in a paper. I ended up staying; I couldn't escape," said Kathryn E. Shea '97.

Some courses, such as E.O. Wilson's large core class 'evolutionary Biology," were canceled yesterday.

Other classes had formats designed to take advantage of the suddenly improved student-to-instructor ratio. Marjorie Garber's core class "Shakespeare, The Early Plays," spent the day having questions answered and watching their teaching fellows perform scenes from the plays.

In his course, "Chamber music from Mozart to Ravel," Robinson Professor of the humanities Robert D. Levin answered student questions about his life as a concert pianist.

Levin also related his difficulties in getting back from his recent concerts in Romania in time for yesterday's lecture.

In one of his "harrowing escapes from fog," Levin took a sleepless voyage on a night train to Bucharest. After explaining to airline personnel that he was expected in Paine Hall within hours, he was able to fly to Switzerland and then to Boston in time for his class.

Associate Professor of History Ellen Fitzpatrick spent a class reflecting on her experience as a teacher, according to Tori jueds '95.

One German class spent the hour learning German profanities, said Matthew R. Saunders '97.

With such informal classes, students felt that the brunt of the year's work was behind them.

"It feels like vacation started on Friday," said Susan S. Kim '96.

Most of the dining halls are closing early in anticipation of low turnout. Mather and North Houses closed their dining halls after dinner last night, while all others close today after lunch, except Currier and the Union which will close after dinner