UC Debuts Campus Space Competition

This fall, the Undergraduate Council­—in partnership with the Happiness Project at Harvard and the Office of Student Life—will launch a competition that will grant the winning proposal $10,000 for the repurposing of an underutilized campus space.

Christopher A. Devine ’13, the Council’s Student Life Committee Chair, announced the creation of the Campus Social Space Competition at Thursday morning’s Committee on Student Life meeting.

In choosing a winning proposal next semester, competition organizers will prioritize a design that creates a central common space for late-night student programming, study breaks, and wellness resources.

“It’s really a pilot project focused on modestly sprucing up a space that may have been lost and forgotten,” said Dean of Student Life Suzy M. Nelson.

Though the contest is open to all undergraduates, Devine said the Student Life Committee anticipates that leaders of House Committees will be the most involved in the competition since they are already significantly engaged in the Houses.

“What’s nice is that these ideas will surface through the students, with their eye to which spaces might be improved to promote student wellness in the Houses and the Yard,” Nelson said.

According to Devine, the space could offer brochures, pamphlets, and books related to well-being to students who may not frequent University Health Services and the Bureau of Study Counsel.

“[There will be] some sort of wellness component in that space in order to bring the resources of the University to this common central space where students would be more likely to see it,” Devine said.

Devine cited the success of the Happy Nest—a space in the Student Organizations Center at Hilles intended to promote wellness, success, and stress-free living—as a driving factor for the creation of the competition.

“We asked, ‘Can we move this to the river?’” Devine said. “And then this morphed into ‘What other spaces are available and how can we make this more exciting?’”

Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds might jointly fund the project with the UC.

At its last meeting of the year, the committee also discussed environmental awareness efforts on campus.

Evelyn D. Chow ’12, a member of the Council of Student Sustainability Leaders, presented ways in which the organization can better educate students about green initiatives on campus. By increasing students’ awareness of green building standards and sustainability principles, Chow said she believes the College can contribute to the University’s goal of 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emission by 2016.

“We hope to raise visibility and awareness of what we do by being able to connect with students and their communities,” she said.

Since President Drew G. Faust established this University-wide goal in 2008, Harvard has reduced its total emissions by 11 percent, according to Chow.

—Staff writer Eliza M. Nguyen can be reached at enguyen@college.harvard.edu.

This article has been revised to reflect the following clarification:

CLARIFICATION: April 20

At the April 19 Committee on Student Life meeting, Undergraduate Council Student Life Committee Chair Christopher A. Devine ’13 indicated that the UC would split the cost of its new $10,000 prize for student social space ideas with Dean of the College Evelyn M. Hammonds' office. Afterward, Devine said that Hammonds has not decided whether to fund the program.

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