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First-years Get Keycard Access

By Alexander J. Blenkinsopp

First-year students will have keycard access to upperclass Houses from 8 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. starting today after a request by Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68 to house masters.

“As there was no objection from the Masters, I’ve asked that freshmen be given access to the Houses on the same basis as upperclassmen have access to Houses other than their own,” Lewis wrote in an e-mail yesterday.

According to Lewis, who will step down from his administrative post at the end of this academic year, the new policy follows a recommendation made in an Undergraduate Council resolution last month.

The council’s resolution, which was passed overwhelmingly, urged the College to extend first-years keycard access to the Houses on a trial basis, citing safety concerns and increased community interaction.

“The Houses are filled day and night with fellow students and also college personnel, and currently first-years at Harvard cannot access them if they are in trouble,” the resolution stated.

Council President Rohit Chopra ’04 lauded the policy change.

“There’s no reason this shouldn’t have happened years ago,” Chopra said. “This was really annoying.”

“This is something that I wanted to do,” Chopra added.

In an e-mail message yesterday, Lewis noted that the policy might open more parties to first-years.

“There is, of course, the possibility that freshmen will seek out parties in the Houses as much as they will seek out study groups,” Lewis wrote. “So I’ve asked the Masters to report back any observations, good or bad.”

The council’s resolution said that extending keycard access would have little impact on whether first-year students attend parties in the Houses, since they currently wait outside until somebody swipes them into upperclass residences.

The council also held that first-year students were excluded from an important aspect of Harvard’s community.

“The upper-class houses are centers of campus activity in a way that the first-year dormitories are not,” the council resolution read.

Some First-year voiced support for the decision.

“I think it’s a good thing because I have a lot of meetings for activities in upperclass House common rooms,” said Lily L. Tung ’06. “It’s kind of a headache to have to call my upperclass friends so that they can let me in.”

—Staff writer Alexander J. Blenkinsopp can be reached at blenkins@fas.harvard.edu.

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