(in)Formal Party Promotes Inclusive Social Space on Campus

Amid ongoing dialogue on campus about social exclusivity, the Phillips Brooks House Association hosted an “(in)Formal” party at the Student Organization Center at Hilles Friday evening in an effort to provide an inclusive student social space.

“As formal season occurs, and as there are so many exclusive events on campus, the idea was just to create something where the tickets are free, and you can just enjoy yourself regardless of socioeconomic status,” said Farris M. Peale ’18, one of the event’s coordinators and vice president of PBHA, the College’s student-run umbrella public service organization.

Peale noted that addressing inclusivity is particularly important because it aligns with many of the PBHA’s goals in approaching work and activism.

“I know for me personally, PBHA is a home on campus, and a place where I feel very comfortable expressing parts of my identity that might not be things that Harvard would traditionally affirm throughout its history,” Peale said. “So I think it is a type of space that is inclusive, and I think we’re trying to broaden its inclusive reach to more places on campus.”

Earlier this year, a collaboration of Harvard College women groups hosted “[BLANK] Party,” a social event with a similar goal of fostering a more inclusive social scene. The Undergraduate Council, likewise, pushed a referendum asking students whether Pusey Library should be transformed into a freshman-oriented social space. And Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana has intensified administrative scrutiny over what he has called exclusivity at the College’s final clubs.

“I think there is a real need for social spaces where people are included,” Peale said. “And I think social life should be something that inherently isn’t hierarchical—that you should be able to meet as many different people as possible—that should be inclusive.”

“[Our goal] is to ensure that people have the resources, as well as the knowledge and manpower to throw really fun, inclusive events,” Stern said.

The UC’s student initiatives committee, whose purpose is to “support students who want to try new events, create new and inclusive social spaces, and expand what people at Harvard understand to be social events,” granted PBHA $500 to host the party, student initiatives committee chair Madeleine H. Stern ’18 said.

The turnout was “pretty good,” Leszek R. Krol ’18, secretary of PBHA and another organizer, said of the event. Though attendance was light early on in the night, “it started to pick up later.”

–Staff writer Derek G. Xiao can be reached at derek.xiao@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @derekgxiao.

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