Quincy Considers Restrictions

Quincy responds to overcrowding by discussing interhouse dining rules

Joshua D. Samuelson

The Quincy House Dining Hall, which currently faces overcrowding and long lines at peak hours, may soon implement dining restrictions for freshmen.

The People’s House may soon close its doors on eager throngs of foreign diners.

After a volley of complaints on the House open list about dining hall crowds and overworked staff, Quincy House Master Robert P. Kirshner ’70 called an open meeting Tuesday night to discuss the possibility of enacting the Houses’s first dining hall restrictions.

Though members of the house did not come to a conclusion at the meeting, the final decision on restrictions will be announced within the next two days.

“We seem to be the victims of our own success (great renovations) and virtue (most welcoming),” Kirshner said in an e-mail to Quincy residents two weeks ago.

The House’s convenient location—together with the revamping of the serving area and restrictions on diners at other House dining halls—has lured thousands more visitors to Quincy this year.

The total number of meals served in Quincy increased by 35 percent from last spring, with freshman consuming nearly 10 percent of all dinners served. Numbers also show that the amount of freshman diners has increased by a factor of 4.5 from last year, while the total number of visiting diners have increased nearly 230 percent.

“Whatever we do will aim to relieve the crowding and in a way that is humane,” Kirshner said last night.

Quincy residents at Tuesday’s meeting agreed that their main concern was the presence of large groups of freshman diners that occupy entire tables, crowd the grill, and make no effort to mingle with the upperclassmen.

Recently, residents also expressed their discontent through starting a group on thefacebook.com entitled “Quincy Students for the Relocation of Freshmen back to Annenberg.”

The group of about 20 students suggested a ban on freshmen at dinner on Sundays through Thursdays, in addition to an interhouse guest policy.

“I don’t think we’re making life hard for them,” resident Kristin E. Wheatley ’07 said. “There’s nothing we’re depriving them of and there’s nothing they’re gaining here.”

But freshmen may not take to the change easily.

Pennypacker resident Siena T. Koncsol ’08 said that she became familiar with the House’s Assistant Senior Tutor Judith F. Chapman through eating at Quincy and is now on the House babysitting list.

Koncsol says being able to eat in Quincy, uninhibited by dining restrictions, provides an outlet for socializing outside of the Yard.

“It opens opportunities to freshmen without being at expense of upperclassmen and acts as a way to foster connections,” Koncsol said.Koncsol also started a group for Union Dorm residents on thefacebook.com called “Quincy is for the people (namely, Us),” in response to the group set up by the dissatisfied Quincy residents.

At the meeting, Quincy residents also attributed the overcrowding to the congregation of large sports teams. Apart from barring freshmen at dinner, they discussed other possible remedies, including a guest policy.

Kirshner said he initially wanted to keep the People’s House open. “We wanted to believe that oh, things will go away, but the facts don’t agree.”

Quincy would not be the first to enact such restrictions: Adams House banned freshmen from its dining hall altogether last March—except as guests—and keeps strictly-enforced hours on other visitors. Eliot, Kirkland, Leverett, Winthrop, and Lowell Houses have restrictions at dinner.

Currently, only Quincy, Mather, Dunster, and the Radcliffe Quadrangle dining halls are open to all students. Annenberg Hall, where freshmen dine, is only open to upperclassmen at breakfast.

With 16 percent of all dinners at Quincy eaten by students from Houses with restrictions on Quincy residents, students at the meeting also considered a tit-for-tat strategy where they reciprocated the restrictions on the Houses that banned them.

“I’m hoping it will be a more long-term situation where we get ourselves a little more respect,” Melissa M. Trahan ’07 said.

Though Trahan expects heavy backlash from freshmen if the ban on them is instated, “to cut them out is the most reasonable solution at the moment,” she said.

At the meeting, Quincy residents agreed to reconvene in a month to reevaluate the situation and any restrictions they decide to impose.

—Staff writer Ying Wang can be reached at yingwang@fas.harvard.edu.