When the University decided to finally present North House with a name, the last of the Houses rose above anonymity.
In an expression of respect and appreciation for a tradition of patronage, the house that anchors the visual landscape of the Quad was named earlier this year for the Pforzheimer family.
Residents agree that the new name is worthy of respect. "Let's recognize the tradition of giving," one tutor said. Eloise H. Pasachoff '95 affirms that "The Pforzheimers are great people--they did a lot for public service."
Although there was controversy when it was announced, Valencia D. Thomas '96 states that "a lot of the fervor has died down--most people are cool with it. Either way, I'm in the same building with the same people."
Upon reflection, most students would agree that the change is a positive one (they actually have a name instead of a direction), but they have yet to see or feel any fundamental differences. There is no evidence that the house formerly known as North is actually changing its name. There is no plaque, t-shirts are not being sold, and the iron gate over the main entrance still bears the gilded words, "North House." perhaps with physical changes being implemented in the coming years, students will begin to feel more comfortable with the name Pforzheimer.
Welcoming the increased pfunk pfactor in Harvard's vocabulary that North's new name implies, Joshua D. Bloodworth '97 says with conviction, "I like living in Pforzheimer!" According to Bloodworth, names like Pforzheimer diversify the WASPy language that defines everything about the university--Lowell House, Thayer Hall, Radcliffe College--and reflects the heralded diversity of Harvard's student body. "Maybe in a few years, we'll have a Wang House..." Bloodworth adds.
Although the house masters and some house committee members were given Pforzheimer t-shirts when they spoke at an inaugural dinner, the new shirt is not yet available to the other house residents, nor is it in demand. "They're kind of dorky looking," comments Elizabeth G. Rhee '96, a house committee representative. Rhee adds that the design she saw was merely a prototype and that by next year the design should improve.
House residents are trying to adapt the change, recognizing that whether or no they want the new name is a moot point. Nevertheless, they find that it is hard to rename a place that is such an integral part of their lives. "There's no way I would wear a Pforzheimer House t-shirt," says Alynda D. Wheat '96. Grounding her position in true North pride, Wheat adds, "I'm going to graduate from North House--no one in our class, nor anyone now living in the house, will ever call it Pforzheimer."
There are other reasons to object to the change, Wheat argues. She claims that renaming the North House Mail Center the Pforzheimer House Mail Center will cause postal problems. "Our mail will be screwed up for the longest time," Wheat says.
However, Wheat is also resigned to the fact that she is just a student living in one of Harvard's houses. "North House is only ours for three years. We [didn't] have a say in this decision."
Although few seem to use the new name except in official documents ("Only freshmen call it Pforzheimer," one resident observed), students are already hearing the new nicknames and teasing. "PfoHo" may replace "No-Ho" as the generic nickname of choice, and "Pforz House" May the Pforz be with you," says Rhee, quoting one of the more popular cooptations of the name.
Students claim that the name of the house has no real bearing on house character. "We all love the house-- it's not dependent on any name," says Pasachoff. After all, concludes a house resident, "North is North is North is North."
Even if it is Pforzheimer.