College To Revamp Loker

Jose L. A. camacho

The new Loker Commons will feature performance space. Fly-by service will replace the Loker Grill at the main counter.

The Class of 2008 will know a Loker Commons different from the one that exists today.

Loker Commons—located in the basement of Memorial Hall and Harvard’s only answer to a student center—will undergo significant changes this summer, according to a statement issued by the College yesterday. The College plans to move fly-by service to the current Loker Grill location, close the grill during the day and add performance space.

Although the Loker Grill, which serves fast food and coffee, will no longer be open during the day, Associate Dean of the College Judith H. Kidd said it will now be open 9 p.m to 10:30 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and will share space with Brain Break.

“With the Brain Break, we wanted to offer people the opportunity to buy stuff as well,” said Kidd.

“We didn’t have a large volume of patronage [at the grill],” Harvard University Dining Services Spokesperson Alexandra McNitt said of the daylight hours.

Of 15 upperclass students contacted yesterday for comment, only one said he had eaten there in the last month.

Next semester, fly-by—where upperclass students who are on the run can pick up lunch—will move to the grill space, opening its current location up for new uses.

“This change will free up space in Loker that might be used for a variety of student functions,” said Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71 in the press release given to The Crimson after it was requested.

Kidd said some ideas for the space have already emerged from administrators’ meetings with student groups and Undergraduate Council representatives.

The most likely plan is for the creation of a more appropriate performance space for student groups.

“We need a clear demarcation between the audience and the performers as well as a way to close off the study booths,” Kidd said, “but we are still in the planning stage.”

McNitt explained the planned later grill hours—9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.—are an experiment to see if demand exists among first-year students for a late-night grill similar to those in Cabot, Dunster, Eliot, Kirkland and Quincy Houses.

“We’re experimenting with having a limited grill service pretty much just because the equipment is there,” McNitt said.

Some students are skeptical about prospects for the grill’s success.

“I think it would be cool if [the Loker Grill] was more like the Quincy Grill,” Cynthia C. Van ’06 said.

The Quincy Grill has later hours than the proposed grill for next year. It is open Sunday through Wednesday 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., Thursday 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., and Friday and Saturday from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m.

Kidd said she believes that more planned events in Loker would draw many students. This would, in turn, increase the demand for late-night food beyond what Brain Break could accommodate.

“I’d go to a performance in Loker if its not a capella,” Micah N. Fitzerman-Blue ’05 said.

Last November, Gross said he did not believe that Loker Commons, built in 1996 thanks to a gift from Katherine B. Loker, was serving students well.

“All one can say, in one word, is it failed,” Gross told The Crimson.

The changes to Loker come during a big push to free up space for students. That initiative has included converting three floors of Hilles Library into student space.

“Space is such a rare commodity, so if you have space that is not fully utilized it’s always the hope that you can find a better use for that space.” Kidd said.

—Staff writer Joshua P. Rogers can be reached at jprogers@fas.harvard.edu.