A campus-wide student center will feature prominently in the University’s upcoming capital campaign, University President Drew G. Faust said in an interview with The Crimson Tuesday.
“That is a priority,” Faust said of the new campus center, which she described as “a vibrant community campus-wide common space that also can serve important needs for student space.”
Faust said she envisions the space as a gathering place for graduate students, undergraduates, and faculty members. She named the Holyoke Center as a likely candidate for its location.
“We’ve been looking at Holyoke pretty strongly,” she said. “I think it could be a really exciting core for the campus, and it’s located in a place that would bring people together very effectively.”
Faust said that although no plans have been finalized, the campus center will like include “large open spaces that could be used for parties, lectures, events,” as well as smaller areas that could serve as meeting space for students organizations. According to Faust, the University will convene a committee of Harvard students and faculty to draft finalized plans for the space.
Last year, the Undergraduate Council released a report outlining the need for a student center on Harvard’s campus and asking that the University consider that need when drafting priorities for the upcoming capital campaign. The Crimson has previously reported that Harvard expects to raise more than $6 billion in a University-wide fundraising campaign set to launch publicly late next year.
“I’m really thrilled by President Faust’s comments. This is something that students have been pushing for years,” said UC Representative Jen Q. Zhu ’14. “The fact that she’s having these conversations really gives me hope.”
Zhu, who co-authored the UC report, is also an inactive photography Crimson editor.
According to Faust the University will look for a donor to support the project as part of its the upcoming capital campaign. Once a donor is identified, the project should move quickly, she said.
Undergraduates have long called for the creation of a student center, which many see as a solution to a dearth of social space on Harvard’s campus.
The UC report called for a space dedicated exclusively to undergraduates, but Faust made clear that a “campus center” will cater to the broader Harvard community.
In 2008 the University created the Committee on Common Spaces—a group tasked with identifying areas that might be better utilized by the University.
The group pinpointed the Yard, the plaza outside the Science Center, and the Holyoke Center as locations that could be turned into social space for the College. As a result of their recommendations, Harvard purchased the brightly colored chairs that have become a fixture in the Yard during warmer months.
Faust has often referenced the work of the Common Spaces Committee when confronted with student concerns over a lack of social space, but in the past she has avoided acknowledging that the University plans to create a student center in the near future.
“This common spaces initiative is one of the things that I’ve felt [is] most critical to Harvard’s development as an integrated University in which people can really reach out to one another across schools and students and faculty,” Faust said Tuesday.
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