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More than a thousand Harvard students found themselves wet and shivering outside Mather House around midnight a couple Saturdays ago. We’ve all heard the story—HUPD had prematurely ended Mather Lather’s overcrowded, foamy revelry, a seemingly disastrous ending to what was a noble attempt by the Mather HoCo to throw a decent party.
Of course, the administration and other HoCos will in all probability interpret the debacle as further proof that events of such large scale only lead to complicated chaos. However, if this event does prove anything, it is that Harvard is in dire need of more events like it.
At a school where most kids on a Saturday night find themselves drinking in someone else’s room or wandering aimlessly around the Square, it is no wonder that an occasion such as Mather Lather attracted so much attention and so many people. The students at Harvard deserve parties like this one—we have to find ways to release the pressures of a demanding academic life. Otherwise, we’ll end up dull and depressed—indeed, many of us have suffered that fate, at least according to a recent University Health Services survey in which half of all respondents said that they had been depressed in the last month and almost 10 percent claimed that they had considered suicide.
The administration could solve a lot of the unhappiness at Harvard if they just gave undergrads things to do on the weekend. University deans, however, clearly do not consider undergrad social life a priority and do amazingly little to improve it. Practically no money is spent on it and the only reason events such as Mather Lather occur at all is because a few dedicated individuals sacrifice their time and grades to make it happen. This problem—the lack of social outlets—needs to be taken seriously by those in charge.
We have to start in the Houses. The Harvard social scene could be greatly revitalized if the College helped sponsor events at Houses along the lines of Mather Lather. Not only do the Houses have the space necessary for such large functions but they would also provide a safe environment. Rather than that freshman drinking himself into oblivion in his tiny Wigg common room, he can be out having a good time with other freshmen at an Outkast concert in the Quad or at a Leverett Casino Night.
A gigantic foam party was a push in the right direction, but more shoves need to come. The administration needs to step up to the plate and deal with this issue or else Harvard is going to find itself losing students to other colleges that provide more enjoyable social experiences to their students.
—Brian A. Finn is a business editor.
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