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AT THE Eliot House "Club Euro" party two weekends ago, I expected to socialize, possibly to dance and most likely to have fun. I didn't expected the party to re-enforce my opposition to randomization of the house assignment system.
In an attempt to imitate the "Euro" look, Eliot House men wore black turtlenecks, violently ripped jeans and bandannas on their heads. The dress code for women was anything tight and black.
At around midnight, a crowd of Adams House residents crashed the party. They let the relatively tame Eliot men and women know what the "Club Euro" lifestyle is all about. Women wore black bras, leather bustiers and skirts barely longer than my pinky finger. One man came dressed in a skin-tight black velvet dress and patent leather pumps.
They thrusted, they gyrated, they pulsed to the beat. Throngs of partygoers stood on the window sills and shouted. Two men got down on the floor and showed Eliot House how to really let loose.
Friday night's party was positive proof of the colorful array of lifestyles and values that exist at Harvard. If we disperse all these people among the house, the bright picture will become a grey blob.
A diverse community is one in which different subcommunities live side by side. The stronger the subcommunities, the more impact they have on each other. Group identity is a positive force so long as it includes toleration.
Living with people who have the same values and goals and who enjoy the same things is hardly the same as living in a house full of clones. Housing by choice encourages people to feel a strong sense of identity with a particular group. It creates a neighborhood of self-assured communities who, by nature of their confidence in themselves, do not feel threatened by other groups.
Take New York City. If families were separated from each other for the sake of diversity--as supporters of randomization define the word--what would happen to the culture of Chinatown, Little Italy or the Hasidic Jewish community on the Lower East Side?
The Eliot House party was not a hostile clash of intolerant people. Rather it was a refreshing meeting of a variety of tastes, and all had fun. In fact, the Eliot House Committee has decided to make the "Club Euro" party an annual event.
On the whole, housing by choice makes for a more diverse, colorful and tolerant Harvard. And it makes for a great party.
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