For Second Year, Faust Funds College Social Life

She may not be paying a $5 cover charge at the door, but University President Drew G. Faust is funding undergraduate social events for the second year in a row.

While the Undergraduate Council or the College Dean’s Office typically fund events for undergraduates, Faust’s contribution from her discretionary fund highlights a focus on the College’s social life as administrators place new scrutiny on where and how undergraduates party.

In an interview last week, Faust said she was funding a “more extensive program” this year, after also contributing a “generous amount” in 2015. Faust said she wanted “to support the effort to generate opportunities for students to interact outside the single gender social organizations,” and was “pleased” to contribute funds towards this effort.

Harvard University President Drew G. Faust
University President Drew G. Faust.

While University spokesperson David J. Cameron confirmed Faust’s funding this year marked an increase from last year’s level, he did not respond directly to a question about the size of the allocation or what events it would specifically fund. The Office of the President funded this year’s [BLANK] Party, and Cameron wrote in an email that the “President’s Office fully supports the Office of Student Life’s efforts.”

The [BLANK] Party, which ran this year for the second time, is an event that women’s groups at the College organize as a more inclusive and label-free party open to all undergraduates.

The Office of Student Life is also preparing to host a series of events geared towards re-centering the undergraduate social experience on campus; the office recently unveiled a slate of activities for undergraduates. Alex R. Miller, the College’s assistant dean for social life, wrote in an email to College students in late September that the OSL plans to hold a “fall festival” this weekend, as well as a Halloween party and several events ahead of the annual Harvard-Yale football game.

Faust’s funding comes at a time when Harvard is increasing the amount of money it spends on student life. Since the fall of 2014, the College Dean’s Office has increased funding for undergraduate social activities by a total of 73 percent. And compared to last year, the OSL’s budget for the 2016-2017 academic year increased by 15 percent.

The promotion of Harvard-sponsored socializing comes as the University also cracks down on unrecognized single gender social groups, with historic sanctions announced last spring. Beginning with the Class of 2021 who are members of unrecognized sororities, final clubs, and fraternities will be ineligible for leadership positions in campus groups, captaincies on varsity teams, or College-endorsed fellowships.

“This is really high priority for us, and it’s been a high priority for us for the past couple of years, and it will continue to be our priority,” Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana said of promoting social events open to all College students in an interview last month. “What I think we’re doing is working in partnership with our students to hear about the kind of social life that many students say they want to advance.”

The College’s new Dean of Students Katherine O’Dair, meanwhile, said she plans to take a more hands-off approach to students’ social lives, adding that she hopes to provide resources for parties and then “get out of the way.”

—Staff writer Jalin P. Cunningham can be reached at jalin.cunningham@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @JalinCunningham.

—Staff writer Ignacio Sabate can be reached at ignacio.sabate@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @ignacio_sabate.

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