Despite efforts from Undergraduate Council representatives to allow freshmen access to upper class Houses on the eve of Housing Day next Wednesday, members of the Class of 2017 will be denied such entry, according to Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman ’67.
According to an email sent to the freshman class by Dingman on Thursday evening, Securitas guards, Harvard University Police officers, Cambridge Police officer, and the Massachusetts State Police will be present for much of the night.
The increased vigilance will be put in place to dissuade students from participating in River Run, a night of festivities which has in past years involved students consuming alcohol at various upperclassmen Houses. Instead, the Freshman Dean’s Office will encourage freshmen to participate in activities sponsored by the University and the First-Year Social Committee.
“Group bonding experience matters to us,” Dingman said in an interview. “This is really the last night that the freshmen are really without another Harvard affiliation.”
Dingman cited safety as a primary motivation for the increased security, recalling dangerous acts performed by intoxicated students in recent years. He further criticized the role River Run plays in perpetuating a negative stereotype of the Quad Houses.
Undergraduate Council Vice President Sietse K. Goffard ’15 and President Gus A. Mayopoulos ’15 met with several University administrators and deans earlier in the semester in support of the tradition of River Run, according to Goffard.
“It’s a tradition,” he said. “It’s one of Harvard’s most fun and greatest traditions. I think that if people want to, they should really be allowed to go into Houses and have fun with their friends.”
Dingman, however, expressed doubt that River Run is a true Harvard tradition, as it only started within the last few years.
Still, Goffard said that while he understands the University prioritizing safety, he and Mayopolous want students to be able to make their own responsible decisions.
While many freshmen interviewed said they had yet to form plans for Housing Day Eve, others claimed that the safety measures will do little to dissuade students from participating in the River Run tradition.
“I think that people who are on the fence about it won’t go,” said Nathaniel P. Ver Steeg ’17. “The people who are planning on doing it are just going to get around it. If they know people in the River Houses, they’re just going to get them to open the door.”
—Noah J. Delwiche contributed to the reporting of this story.
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—Staff writer Theodore R. Delwiche can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @trdelwic.