Following in the footsteps of the nearby Adams and Lowell, Eliot House is barring non-residents from its dining hall after 6 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays. Eliot students will each be allowed one inter-House guest during those hours.
Eliot House Master Lino Pertile alerted students to the new policy by e-mail on Tuesday, citing “overcrowding” as the cause for the new restrictions.
“I go and occasionally it is grossly overcrowded to the point that I can’t see any group of Eliot students,” he said yesterday. “There is crowding between 6:30 and 7 because of an influx of athletes from across the river. It is like a big sort of airport lounge.”
Harvard athletic teams practice across the Charles River in Allston, and many squads end their workouts around 6:45 p.m. in order to give athletes time to catch dinner. Nearby dining halls close at 7:15, while those in the Quad—Cabot, Currier and Pforzheimer—stay open until 7:30 to accommodate their students’ longer commutes from the Yard.
But some say it’s not reasonable to expect athletes to make it back to the Quad for a post-practice dinner—making the recent wave of river-House restrictions unfair.
“I don’t like the restrictions,” said Lydia M. Williams ’07, an Eliot resident and Harvard squash player. “I don’t think it’s fair to penalize people for not living near athletic facilities.”
“It seems kind of unreasonable,” said Amadi P. Anene ’08. “Most of the people who do come back from the river need Eliot space to eat, especially when dinner ends so early.”
Some propose keeping the dining halls open later in order to diffuse this athletic stampede more evenly.
“I was really annoyed at the overcrowding,” Priya A. Rajdev ’07 said in the dining hall. “But if they extended dining hall hours, they could get rid of restrictions.” Many at her table nodded in agreement.
Other students expressed frustration at not being able to find a table in their own house.
“We had to squish in the back corner two nights in a row,” said Frank J. Herrmann ’06, an Eliot resident and Harvard baseball player.
Some say that dining quarters have been particularly cramped this year because of the recent opening of the Eliot House gate closest to the Charles River.
“It seems like, with the open gate, people can swipe in a whole team,” said Brandon F. Petri ’06, an Eliot resident.
But not all Eliot students attribute the crowds to the gate.
“Athletes always stop here for dinner,” wrote Elsa S. Kim ’08 in an e-mail.
“I don’t think it’s because of the gate—which is good, because I really like having it open. There are too many closed gates at Harvard,” she added.
Although many restrictions go unenforced, most dining halls—all except the Quad Houses, Dunster, and Mather—have some sort of guest-restriction policy in place. Lowell House, which formally bars interhouse dinners, is considering adding lunch limits in light of recent overflow crowds.
Lowell House Committee Co-Chair Kaartiga Sivanesan ’06 said 500 students swiped into Lowell Dining Hall between noon and 1p.m. on Monday, resulting in a line that stretched into the couryard.
But Sivanesan said that the HoCo was “hesitant to institute restrictions, because we like to have the dining hall open. We’ve decided to give it another week because people are still figuring out their schedules.”
—Staff writer Sam Teller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. —Staff writer Nina L. Vizcarrondo can be reached at email@example.com.