Freshmen Banned from Houses Wednesday

UPDATED: March 13, 2013, at 2:20 a.m.

Members of the Class of 2016 will be barred from the College’s 12 upperclassmen Houses on Wednesday night, as administrators attempt to prevent the prohibited tradition of River Run, which takes place the day before freshmen are assigned to one of the Houses.

"While we certainly understand your excitement about your House assignment, given the Houses’ own plans and activities, the Houses are not open to you on Housing Day Eve," Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman ’67 wrote in an email to the class of 2016.

Given the dangerous activities associated with the tradition, including heavy alcohol consumption and the launching of burning boats onto the Charles River, administrators said that they are concerned about the safety of students.

During River Run, freshmen travel among the Houses, drinking alcohol in the process and hoping to “influence” the random assignment that they will receive the next day.

Blocking groups also set fire to small, homemade boats on which they write the names of their most, or least, preferred Houses.

“Some of the traditions that people refer to aren’t really traditions," Dingman said. “River Run doesn’t go back so long in time, and it has had elements of risk that I think are very serious.”

To prevent the underage drinking that typically accompanies River Run, Dingman informed freshmen that there will be increased monitoring from security guards, the Harvard University Police Department, the Cambridge Police Department, and Massachusetts State Police.

Following a class-wide event hosted by the First Year Social Committee in Annenberg, the Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub will offer freshmen free snacks as a safer alternative to the River Run tradition.

Administrators said, however, that some freshmen will inevitably decide to drink on Wednesday.

“Obviously some people during these momentous occasions will choose to make decisions we wish they wouldn’t make,” Director for Freshman Programming Katie W. Steele said.

In an email to the Class of 2016, Dingman sent a stern warning.

“Should you choose to drink on Housing Day Eve, be prepared to accept consequences related to your actions,” Dingman wrote.

The College’s amnesty policy will remain in effect on Wednesday night, he added.

Upperclassmen said they think the administration should allow the River Run to continue.

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