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House Access Extension Clears Hurdle

Masters’ vote is next step for first-year keycard access proposal

Next year’s first-years may not have to wait outside in the cold for an upperclass student to swipe them into Adams House for dinner or to visit a friend in Kirkland House.

At a meeting Wednesday morning, the Committee on House Life (CHL) recommended that the masters grant first-years keycard access to all the Houses.

A one-year trial period of the new policy will begin after the housing lottery in March—should the masters vote to enact the committee’s recommendation, according to Matthew W. Mahan ’05, who presented the proposal to the CHL.

Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68, who chairs the CHL, will bring the proposal to the House masters’ meeting next month.

“The right thing to do seemed to be to institute the policy for a year and review it to see if we were correct in judging that the benefits outweigh the risks,” Lewis wrote in an e-mail. “This is what I will recommend to the masters.”

Lewis said the masters will review the effect of the new policy on the Houses and first-years after the trial period.

“Will freshmen overrun the dining halls, or will they unreasonably attach themselves to the social life of a House?” Lewis wrote.

Several masters said yesterday that they had yet to take a position on the issue.

Kirkland House Master Tom Conley said he was unsure whether he was in favor of the change, but does not think it will dramatically increase the presence of first-years in Kirkland.

“We’ve watched life in the House and freshmen come and go,” Conley said. “If freshmen coming and going is a matter of fact, there’s no reason it can’t be a matter of rule.”

Five of the 12 Houses—Cabot House, Leverett House, Lowell House, Pforzheimer House and Quincy House—already grant keycard access to first-years, making the extension a natural step, according to Lewis.

First-years would be able to swipe into all Houses from 8 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.—the same access granted to Upperclassmen.

“Freshmen will feel less isolated and more invested in Upperclass communities,” Undergraduate Council President Rohit Chopra ’04 said.

Sarah J. Murphy ’06 said having access to the Houses as a first-year would make her feel more included in the community.

“Going to parties and having to wait outside is so inconvenient,” Murphy said. “It really makes you feel like a freshman.”

Eliot House Master Lino Pertile, who was at the CHL meeting, said he would support the resolution.

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