If You Come, They Will Build It

Pub Night could quite possibly be one of the best things to happen to the social scene at Harvard in a long time. Cheap beer, live music, food, and lots of friends—it almost sounds like what you might find at a college bar in a college town. It sure doesn’t sound like Loker Commons. It sounds more like Brother Jimmy’s, but with cheaper beer and friends from every class.

How did such a thing come to pass? How did “College” come to Harvard? It took the joining of a group of people who wanted to have some fun at Harvard. Our organizations—Veritas Records and Harvard Student Agencies (HSA)—saw an opportunity that sounded good, rolled up our sleeves, and went to work.

None of the politics that have for so long stood in the way of meaningful campus activities were involved. Planning a fun and successful social event is hard work, but it isn’t rocket science, and it most certainly is not political science. On other campuses, social activities are often planned by apolitical student programming boards, conducive to the kind of fun cooperation that makes events like Pub Night possible. Why does the social life of Harvard students deserve anything less?

On this campus, it is our impression that the business of “fun” has become bogged down by committees and bill-writing. While politicos may herald 24-hour libraries, there are those of us who raise our eyebrows at the thought of the Undergraduate Council—the same body charged with planning fun and exciting campus wide social activities—devoting such energy to providing the opportunity to study at 4am on a Saturday. What happened to helping us find somewhere to go hang out at 10pm on a Friday? We believe that it is time the UC realize its strengths and its weaknesses, and create an independent organization dedicated solely to planning and supporting campus social events.

Pub Nights have emerged in spite of the lack of an effective organizational structure for student planning. The opportunity was instead provided by the Dean’s Office, and we believe that is evidence that this administration is clearly listening to student desires and is committed to supporting social life. Associate Dean of the College Judith H. Kidd, Assistant Dean of the College Paul J. McLoughlin II, and Special Assistant to the special assistant to the dean for social programming Zachary A Corker ’04 made these Pub Nights happen. They helped bring student groups with different capabilities together to throw events unlike anything the administration has previously sponsored. They made it happen, and now we as students need to take advantage of this opportunity.

The first Pub Night was on a Friday night, and 1000 people came. Then, two weeks later nearly 700 people came back to a second Pub Night on a Saturday. If student support of this magnitude continues, it seems to us that the University will have no choice but to confront the obvious demand and invest in a permanent campus pub—not just Loker with cheap beer, but a space with a character and ambience that is unique to Harvard.

Imagine a space that is not overrun with graduate students, that is not exclusionary in any way, that cooks up cheap food late into the night—and that doesn’t serve any drink over $5. We think this kind of dedicated space, open to all and providing food, drinks, and entertainment, is a good and necessary idea.

Recently, we visited other campuses in the Northeast to find out what permanent student pubs were all about. We saw some amazing facilities—far beyond anything offered at Harvard—but we also found that these spaces were not nearly as effective facilitators of social life as our own Pub Nights at Harvard have been. Although vast improvements over what is currently offered in Loker, they were still handicapped by a need to be multipurpose for multiple constituencies. Given the success of Pub Nights, imagine what could happen at Harvard if we had our own pub, designed to meet the specific social needs of undergraduates. We don’t think that Harvard undergraduates should have to wait 20 years for such a place to be built in Allston.

Sound crazy? We don’t think so. After all, this administration has already shown a willingness to respond to our desires. The Dean’s Office has provided a great opportunity, but it does not have to be a temporary one. If a permanent pub is being considered by the College, then those who make the decisions will be looking to student demand for justification. So let us speak with our feet, and our thirst, and show the College that a permanent Harvard Pub is exactly what this campus needs. We’re throwing down in Loker on March 18th and several more dates this spring. If you think the idea for a permanent Harvard Pub sounds reasonable, come on by Pub Night next Friday. The first hundred beers are on the three of us, so grab a draft, pull up a chair, and we’ll talk about it.

Matthew L. Siegel ’05 and Daniel J. Zaccagnino ’05 are the founders of Veritas Records and are responsible for entertainment production at Pub Nights. Daniel L. Rodriguez ’05 is the HSA Pub Night manager.