Quadward, Ho !
For the Moment
THE SORDID TRUTH hidden by the Committee on House Life is the following: sometimes people hate where they live. Sometimes they only mildly dislike it. Sometimes they don't care. Some shameless individuals actually love their houses. Interestingly enough, many find domestic bliss by moving away from the river--where they thought they'd never miss a moment of the Harvard experience--to the Radcliffe Quad.
Lowell House is a clean, well-lit, centrally located building whose historic Russian bells ritually serenade its residents. Its courtyard has won architectural awards. The view from its tower is listed in the Michelin Guides as "spectacular." But Michelle Kiang '97 can't wait to leave. "Everyone keeps to themselves around here," says the Biochem concentrator. "Overall, it's very unfriendly."
Lowell's apparent lack of facilities is another drawback, which annoyed Kiang and her roommates. "We tried to make gingerbread cookies for a holiday party, but we couldn't find the kitchen. After wandering around the tunnels for a while, we found a tutor who told us we probably didn't want to go there because it was roach-infested. She took us to her room to use her convection oven instead. She had a pigeon living in her room that she found in the belfry. It has some sort of neurological disorder, so its head is kind of cocked up all the time and it just waddles around the fireplace."
Neurologically-disturbed avian acquaintances notwithstanding, Kiang and some of her roommates have decided to search for a friendlier environment by moving to the Radcliffe Quad. Although "quadbuster" houses remain popular among first years, a significant number of undergraduates are choosing to relocate to more suburban climes found off Linnean Street.
Lealani Rodriguez '96 chose to leave Winthrop House last year for the newly-christened Pforzheimer House. "I didn't get to know a lot of people in Winthrop...I just didn't feel like part of the house. Pforzheimer has a lot of house activities and speakers that interest me. It has more of a house life than Winthrop ever did." Rodriguez and her rooming group had originally wanted to live in the Quad, and the move allowed them to rejoin once-distant friends.
For Rodriguez and her rooming group, the choice to live in the Quad represented a rejection of the Georgian splendor of the river houses in favor of the immense personal space of a single and the sunny comforts of a lawn big enough for many a muddy football game. Some who opt to move to the Quad do so because of what they perceive as better facilities, namely the frozen yogurt machine in Currier. "The Quad is new and spacious and not kind of old and scary like the River houses," said Chris J. Nicholson '97, an advocate of Cabot House's new public access FAX and other "friendly and expansive" facilities. "We're close to the Q-RAC; that's a super-bonus...and we have tennis courts."
The Quadrangle Recreational Athletic Center is a preferable, more sanitary option for many who object to the mysterious odors which permeate the Malkin Athletic Center. And, despite the prospect of long, cold, salty walks during the brutal winter months, those who choose to transfer to the Quad embrace what they call "going home." "I've done it in the cold. I've done it in the snow. I really don't mind," says Michelle Kiang, ostensibly referring to the long trek. Cabot House resident Justin C. Label, vice-president of the Undergraduate Council, succinctly sums up the best reason he sees for moving to the Quad: "Everything about it is better than anything else."