Where Are We To Flirt?

I think I know why there are so many single people at Harvard. Last Saturday night, I found myself in the room of a boy I like, ardently flirting under the guise of “doing work.” While we busied ourselves pretending to do work and finding excuses to platonically touch each other, his two slightly intoxicated roommates filtered in and out, horsing around, hanging out and in general being very funny. We laughed at them, and continued our attempt at productiveness.

After an hour or so of accomplishing nothing, we stopped, joked around a bit and drank some beer. I attempted SimCity, but unknowingly started a devastating fire that burned all of Crimsonville before I figured out how to get water. Despite the loss, it was a lovely evening, and around midnight I left the guys to their games and headed back to my room exhausted, expecting to find my suite quiet and vacated. Imagine my chagrin at finding my two wonderful roommates home, hanging out in our suite. Two very attractive women, spending the prime of their lives alone in their suite, while two blocks away, three great guys were spending the prime of their lives alone in their room.

Houston, we have a problem: Three nice eligible boys, three nice eligible girls. Saturday night. Alone in their rooms.

Conclusion: The cool people you want to date are in their rooms.

Under the laws of the current Harvard social scene, select groups are taken care of on a Saturday night. The athletes, for example, party amongst themselves, often not returning to their rooms at all, or returning in the wee hours of the morning in the company of another. Though partying jocks are great fun (I was one), it can be very difficult to hang out with alcoholic athletes if you happen to dislike either alcohol or athletes. It ruins the fun.

Meanwhile, the final club crowd is even more well-occupied throughout the weekend (and Thursday night), drinking themselves into non-profit oblivions with kegstands as their only athletic competition. They have both the space and the funds to have a good time.

But what if you’re not a big fan of final clubs? What if you’re not a big drinker? What if you’re an occasional partier, but had enough last weekend? What if you’re too tired to go out, but wouldn’t mind hanging out for a while? I’ll tell you what: You’re in your room. And you may well be single. Roommates are great fun, but let’s face it, they’re not for dating.

There is a reason that everyone at this school is either “married” or completely single: We have no open place to hang out and flirt openly. Former University President Neil L. Rudenstine commented a few years back that loneliness is the biggest problem facing Harvard students. Yes, quality time in your room alone on a weekend night staring at a pile of books is as lonely and depressing as it gets. And yet nice, fun Harvard students do it every weekend. In a school with a vested interest in the mental health of its students, you would think the administration would take the initiative to give students a place to hang out. Really, where are students who don’t want to party supposed to go?

We need a student center. The administration knows that this is a problem, and knows that students have repeatedly requested a place to hang out. The administration knows that many students live in their suite’s common rooms; there really is no place to hang out, let alone congregate with date-able peers. The administration knows that all student space outside the Houses is currently taken up by couchless extracurricular group offices. (Note that couches are usually a pivotal part of the dating process.) We are one of the few college campuses without a student center, under one of the few college administrations to openly criticize binge and under-age drinking and yet not give students an alternative, well-couched option.

We need a student center that stays open 24 hours a day, plays music, has pool tables, serves food and caters to coyly suggestive students. Though University President Lawrence H. Summers’ plan to focus on the sciences is an excellent idea, the issue of a student center needs to be addressed. Just think—not only would Summers’ student approval ratings rise, undergraduate action levels could skyrocket to astronomical highs.

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