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Fed Up Adams Residents Ban Interhouse Diners

First-years turned away under harsher enforcement of policy

By Ebonie D. Hazle, Crimson Staff Writer

Though the sound of the gong will not reverberate through Adams House dining hall this spring, the Adams House Committee (HoCo) is making sure that uninvited interlopers feel the full force of their interhouse dining restrictions.

After a heated debate of more than 60 messages over the Adams Schmooze e-mail list about crowding in their dining hall, the HoCo has decided to tighten security in order to enforce the restrictions on interhouse diners.

While they decided not to revive the old practice of ringing their bronze gong every time an unwanted diner enters, Adams residents have volunteered to help the dining hall staff police the flow of diners at the checker desk.

Under the new campaign, which kicked off last night, one or two student checkers will be present at peak evening dining hours to help staff check the cards of incoming students for the coveted white square that signals affiliation with Adams House.

Adams residents said overcrowding in their dining hall has become unbearable this year, ruining community spirit and inconveniencing them.

“We’re not looking to publicly humiliate anyone, we just want enough food in our dining hall,” said HoCo Co-Chair Christopher A. Lamie ’04.

House Master Judith Palfrey said the interhouse restrictions had even become impossible for one checker to enforce.

“Some students just walk right in, without even showing their cards and some are even rude to the staff,” said House Master Judith Palfrey.

Adams House residents have debated interhouse restrictions on and off in the past, but Senior Tutor Michael R. Rodriguez said frustration with overcrowding finally boiled over this year.

“Our students have had to wait in long lines and search to find seats and they’re not always finding the food that they want before it runs out,” he said.

In fact, some students said they have been forced to give up completely on eating in their own dining hall at times.

“A couple of times I’ve had to take my tray back to my room because it was so crowded,” Adams resident Joshua A. Barro ’05 said.

Rodriguez and Palfrey attributed overcrowding with diluting House spirit.

“The other night I had to walk to the far far end of the dining hall just to see someone that I knew,” Palfrey said.

In addition to the volunteer security, the HoCo will plaster the walls of the Gold Room with posters warning students of the interhouse restrictions.

“Our dining hall staff is doing the best that they can, but they’re also totally overburdened,” Lamie said. “The best thing we can do is help them and make sure people start to take this rule seriously.”

Students from other Houses are barred from entrance to the dining hall between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday and between 5:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday through Thursday. Adams House residents are allowed to have one visitor per meal during these restricted the hours.

Not all residents of other Houses will be shut out. Adams House will still allow Pforzheimer residents—as a concession for their loss to them in a House war a few years ago—to eat there during the restricted hours.

“These rules are not arbitrary and they’re not the result of pretentiousness,” Lamie said. “We’re just trying to take care of our own house.”

Some Adams students attribute the increase in overcrowding this year to a particularly savvy first-years using the dining hall.

“There are definitely a lot of freshmen this year figuring out that Adams is conveniently located and better than Annenberg,” Barro said.

Rodriguez said he has seen the phenomenon in action.

“I went into the service area and there were two freshmen talking and laughing about how they have never eaten in Annenberg,” he said. “It was just really frustrating.”

But the frustration goes both ways.

Students in other Houses and first-years said the enforcement of the restrictions is a major inconvenience.

Abdel Reid ’06 was among the first-years turned away by the volunteer checkers from the dining hall last night.

“It’s really upsetting, we’re just trying to eat,” he said. “Now I have to walk all the way back to the Berg where the food is definitely not up to par.”

Tim A. Hagamen ’06 was also turned away.

“It sucks,” he said.

—Staff writer Ebonie D. Hazle can be reached at hazle@fas.harvard.edu.

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