Several first-years in Canaday last year were looking for a way to dry their damp clothes. Noticing that their halogen lamps gave off a great deal of heat, they came to an innovative solution.
The clothes soon burst into flames. Fortunately, a student grabbed an extinguisher and put out the fire.
But the Class of 2001 will be spared a similar fate. The popular halogen floor lamps have been banned from first-year dorms.
"I'm very happy to see that they don't allow halogens. I have questions about the safety of halogens. I hate halogens," said Debbie, a class of 2001 mother who asked that her last name be withheld for her daughter's sake.
"The [Freshman Dean's Office's] policy was made solely and absolutely on the basis of safety concerns," said Elizabeth S. Nathans, the dean of first-years.
Harvard's decision follows in the wake of similar bans at schools around the country, including Yale and Brown universities, causing fierce protests from students.
The lamps have caused nearly 200 fires and 11 deaths in the United States since 1992, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
Members of the Class of 2001 expressed ambivalence over the decision.
"If it's going to cause a hazard I'm not going to make a fuss about it," Kevin A. Doughton '01 said.
"There are too many things to get stressed out about here to worry about lighting," he added.
Halogen lamps, which use 300 to 500 watt bulbs as opposed to the 60 to 100 watt bulbs used in incandescent lamps, proliferate in the houses, where a single lamp often provides significantly more light than the ceiling fixtures do.
Some students and parents expressed concern that the lighting provided in the
"The darkness is not good for their eyes and their mood. [The rooms] need more ceiling lamps," said Angelo Gelpi, a Class of 2001 parent.
At a meeting held for first-years who live in the San Francisco Bay area, the students were warned of the dim dorm condition.
"We were told that if you're used to California sunshine, then put a lot of light in your room. It's more of a psychological thing," said Patty Hennings, also a Class of 2001 parent.