U. C. Members Worry About Commons

Undergraduates Charge College's Plans Will Not Help Harvard Social Scene

The position paper of Undergraduate Council President Joshua D. Liston '95 speaks volumes about students' dissatisfaction with Harvard social life.

Liston, himself a member of the Hasty Pudding and the Spee Club, promised in his "Contract With the College" to explore the possibility of establishing fraternities and sororities on campus.

And indeed, Liston's position paper is a reflection of widespread undergraduate discontent regarding opportunities to socialize at Harvard.

Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III had an answer for Liston, however.

In an interview last month, Epps claimed that the new Loker Commons will eliminate the need for a Greek social scene when it opens in 1996.


"My main hope is for an active social life on the weekends for students," Epps said in the February 21 interview. "The Commons are designed so they could have dancing."

"[The Commons] are a planned response to a weakness in [Harvard] social life," Epps added. "We don't think it's easy for students to meet each other."

But members of the council say that administrative policies aimed at including both the Harvard and Cambridge communities at large will detract from the student-centered atmosphere they were hoping the commons would offer.

In particular, council members say they have been told that the University may plan to boot undergraduates who aren't eating during peak hours from the smallish space.

"I think students are getting screwed," says Rudd W. Coffey '97, one of four council members on a student-administrator committee charged with overseeing the implementation of the Loker plans. "I don't want any student to get kicked out because a visitor from Oklahoma wants to eat lunch."

Some council members, who toured the commons this past week, say they are concerned by other potential aspects of the emerging design such as the absence of a television, a limited number of computers and a generally unfriendly atmosphere toward students who just want to "hang out."

As an example of the administra- tion's intentions, council members point to theratio of pay phones to centrex phones, which theyestimate will be about four to one.

But College administrators say that it is fartoo early to address concerns about specificpolicies.

"The thing that I'm most objecting to is havingthis thing programmed down to the last detailbefore [it opens]," says L. Fred Jewett '57, deanof the College.

Administrators add that the commons willlargely cater to its maincustomers--undergraduates--and that most of thepolicies to which students object are stillflexible and in the planning stages.

A Unifying Institution