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Many a Harvard party-goer has had a supporting role in a recurring, frustrating scene. The music has finally reached a sweet spot, the drinks are still cool and the bodies are hot. A critical mass of diverse, yet somehow connected, revelers fills the room with its moves and chatter. It’s a great party. Unfortunately, it’s also 12:50 am, and in ten minutes, like clockwork, a tutor will surely come to turn on the light and usher everyone—save for the room’s permanent residents—into the cold night, left to roam in search of late-night food, an unregistered gathering or the dingy basement of the closest final club.
A recent proposal from the Undergraduate Council might rewrite that scene to add another hour of getting down in the safety and comfort of someone’s common room. The council’s Committee on House Life resolved early last month to ask the House Masters to allow parties to continue until 2 a.m. This long-overdue change would help soothe one of the most bothersome sore spots in the College’s much-bemoaned social life. Love them or hate them, Harvard parties can only be improved by making them last longer.
The current cutoff forces students looking for a little more down time after 1 a.m. to seek off-campus parties and final clubs where they may feel less comfortable or less safe. Harvard students keep late hours, and the 1 a.m. deadline doesn’t match up with the reality of undergraduate life. Peer schools have recognized the need to let their students party until 2 am; with overwhelming support from Harvard’s undergraduates—91 percent supported the later hours in a 2001 Council survey—it’s time for the House Masters to catch up.
Incoming Council President Matthew W. Mahan ’05 has argued unconvincingly that later party hours would cut down on noise—and thus ease relations with Harvard’s neighbors—by incentivizing “students to stay in the Houses for the entirety of their social evening.” In reality, students will continue to make the rounds and visit parties outside of their own Houses despite the extended hours. But there is one simple step that would insure that these wandering partiers don’t create an audible distraction every weekend: running more shuttles around campus at peak times, including the new 2 a.m. post-party rush. Associate Dean of the College Judith H. Kidd has cited the Quad-to-River route—which cuts through an otherwise-quiet residential neighborhood—as a major source of noise complaints. More frequent shuttles between 1:30 am and 2:30 a.m. would easily pick up weary carousers and whisk them quietly away to their dorms. Students would appreciate the safer and more convenient alternative, and Cantabrigians trying to get a good night’s sleep would be none the wiser.
When this proposal comes before the assembled House Masters and Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71, they should swiftly approve it. With so many reasons to keep partying until 2 a.m. and such a lack of logic behind the current cutoff, there’s no justification not to make the change. Party on.
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