Where Is Our Clubhouse

Pudding acquisition of space raises questions about what the College is doing for its students

A prime piece of real estate in the square will soon provide space for student groups to rehearse and socialize—but only for a select few. The Hasty Pudding will be relocated, at least temporarily, to a new “clubhouse” at Two Garden Street. The Institute of 1770—the umbrella organization for the four groups that comprise the Pudding: the Theatricals, the Social Club, the Harvard Krokodiloes and the Radcliffe Pitches—recently signed a lease on a building on Garden St. And while this is undoubtedly good news for the few Harvard students who will get to use the clubhouse, it highlights the unfortunate lack of success of Harvard College in securing desperately needed student space for the majority of its students.

Student organizations all over campus are struggling with a lack of office and performance space. There is prime real estate available in Harvard Square that could be used for student groups, and as Harvard College sits on its hands, student groups remain homeless. While its lease likely came at a high price, Two Garden St. could have served the wider student community if Harvard were aggressive about identifying and leasing space in the area—either from the Harvard Real Estate office or from local owners.

Beyond identifying more available space in the Square, the College can show its devotion to student groups by making the space that it currently owns available for student use—quickly. With some of the Pudding groups moving a few blocks west, there will be more free space in the old Pudding building at 12 Holyoke St., and the College should take advantage of it by pushing forward its planned renovations.

Harvard wants to turn the Pudding into a full-fledged theater space, a project that has been delayed multiple times and was originally scheduled to start in May 2002. Currently, $100,000 is being spent on safety upgrades, which should be completed by the end of this month, according to Technical Director of College Theater Alan P. Symonds . But the $25 million fundraising drive to finance further renovations of the building is lagging, despite the fact that Harvard has owned the space for three years. To accommodate as many students as possible, when these upgrades do eventually happen, Harvard should open the easily accessible Pudding building for a larger number of desperate-for-space student organizations—not just a handful of privileged groups.

As undergraduates sign up for the few hours they can catch in their House Junior Common Rooms and struggle to accommodate their organizations in ill-fitting spaces, Harvard must take the initiative. When buildings in the Square become available, the College should strongly consider acquiring them through purchase or lease; the space crunch will only be alleviated if the College is aggressive in finding homes for its student groups.