House Life Panel Debates Party Grant Dispersal

The possibility of eliminating the role of the Undergraduate Council (UC) in allocating party grants, along with a proposal to pair each Quad House with a River House, generated heated discussion at yesterday’s Committee on House Life (CHL) meeting.

The most drastic change considered was stripping the UC of its responsibility for party grants, and instead delegating this authority to each House Committee (HoCo).

Proponents of the idea said that individual Houses have their own specific needs and rules, such as size limits and the date by which parties must be registered.

HoCos “sort of know what the distribution of parties are, they know what the rooms are like, they know who the players are ahead of time,” Adams House Co-Master Sean G. Palfrey ’67 said afterwards.

The UC currently awards three $100 freshman party grants, nine $100 upperclass party grants, and four $200 super-party grants each week, according to its Web site. Students apply online, and winners are selected randomly.

Student Affairs Committee Chair Michael R. Ragalie ’09 and former UC Representative Brian S. Gillis ’07-’08 both said they feared that taking this function away from the UC would render the body completely useless in the eyes of students, many of whom they think see party grant allocations as the UC’s only purpose.

“There’s a lot of advantages of having HoCo do it, but if the UC were able to reform its pure randomization process...then I think overall it’s a better situation because you have the whole campus involved in the social scene,” Gillis said after the meeting.

The committee also discussed possible solutions to the problem of providing adequate lunch space for students who live in the Quad.

Students and House administrators alike have complained that, under the current system, too many students flock to the residences nearest to the Yard for their midday meal, crowding out the Houses’ actual residents.

Deferring any immediate changes, CHL decided to appoint an exploratory group to examine the data collected each time students swipe in at a dining hall in order to better formulate a plan.

“We really need to go back and see if there’s a pattern to people’s eating because we could then make educated guesses as to what would be the best match,” said Associate Dean of Residential Life Suzy M. Nelson.

The plan to pair each Quad House with a “sister” River House where Quadlings would be allowed to eat lunch, like the system already in place for Adams and Pforzheimer residents, was proposed at last month’s meeting.

Currently most of the centrally located River residences have dining restrictions that try to limit the number of non-House members eating there—although the rules are often not enforced.

The meeting’s discussion did not resolve whether these restrictions would be more strictly imposed under the “sister” House system.

An analysis of the swipe data from the dining halls will not be presented until the next CHL meeting in mid-April.

Calling a test run of the new plan before the end of the school year “ideal,” Nelson said, “You don’t implement new recommendations overnight.... Why not take another month or two to have it make sense?”

—Staff writer Margot E. Edelman can be reached at medelman@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Victoria B. Kabak can be reached at vkabak@fas.harvard.edu.