Crowds Turned Away at Lamont Celebration

Party to commemorate round-the-clock hours draws around 1500 students

Laura C. Mckiernan

Hundreds of students who came to celebrate Lamont Library’s new late-night hours could not get inside the doors last night, as Allied security guards stopped allowing entrants even before the party’s scheduled start at midnight.

Guards estimated that around 1,500 students gathered for what the Undergraduate Council (UC) advertised as a “PARTY IN LAMONT!,” lured by promises of food from Finale and Felipe’s. The crowd quickly turned the library’s lobby into a standing-room-only mosh pit, said several students in attendance.

Additional Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) officers, dispatched to the library after receiving advance notice of the planned party, escorted students outside the building to ease the crowd, said HUPD Sgt. Denis Downing.

That crowd stretched from the library’s steps back to the statue in the grass outside Houghton Library, said Nathan G. Bernhard ’07, co-chair of Cabot’s House Committee and also a Crimson editor.

A group of Quad residents led by Bernhard, Sam Quinn '07, and Eric Kouskalis '07 organized a protest for longer hours in the Hilles Library to coincide with the Lamont celebration. Forty students chanted and held signs toward what Bernhard called "a pretty massive forced audience" of students turned away from Lamont. One sign read "Quadlings Are People Too" and another declared "Eliot House Supports the Quad."

Although Downing said the crowds were kept under control, students called the scene chaotic.

“There was one police officer trying to get people out of the door, and there was another police officer at the same door trying to stop people,” said Emily M. Mott ’07. “I couldn’t move. I’ve never been in crowds that intense.”

Davone J. Tines ’09 compared the lobby to the Titanic. “There was only one door, and we were all trying to get out,” he said. “It was pandemonium.”

Tines came to the library to study, but most said they came for the free food. UC members placed plates of fruit tarts and chocolate mousse on a table inside the lobby, but struggled to bring the food from Felipe’s inside the overcrowded library. Improvising, students grabbed handfuls of quesadillas from plates and tossed foil-wrapped burritos into the crowd.

After leaving Lamont hungry, some students said they became angry.

“It’s dangerous to part Harvard students from their Mexican food,” said Garrett D. Morgan ’08.

But UC President Matthew J. Glazer ’06 said the event was a success, despite some students’ empty stomachs.

“From a UC standpoint, I’m more excited that it’s 1 o’clock in the morning and the library is full of people who are here doing their work,” said Glazer, a longtime advocate of 24-hour libraries. But, he added, “We wish we had some more food.”

The Harvard College Library (HCL) extended Lamont’s hours past 1 a.m. for the first time this September after several years of complaints from student leaders. The UC proposed the party to celebrate that change, and HCL funded the event, Glazer said.

Nancy M. Cline, Roy E. Larsen librarian of Harvard College, also began giving a speech in recognition of the event, but was cut short by the unexpected crowd.

“It’s great to have a 24-hour library,” she said after the abbreviated address. “It’s something the librarians have wanted to do for a long time.”

-Staff writer Elizabeth W. Green can be reached at egreen@fas.harvard.edu.

-Staff writer Laura C. McKiernan can be reached at lmckiern@fas.harvard.edu.