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Student Group Leaders Call OWAW a Success

By Monika L. S. Robbins and Hana N. Rouse, Crimson Staff Writers

With the first-ever Optional Winter Activities Week concluded, student group leaders have now turned to evaluating the week’s success.

Many students whose groups organized activities said the week’s efforts had already paid off in the form of newly interested members.

The Institute of Politics was one such group that used OWAW as an opportunity to attract more students to their organization.

“Our mission was this: if you are interested in politics or public service, the IOP is here for your use, regardless of your involvement,” said IOP communications director Gabriel S. Neustadt ’13.

According to Neustadt, some OWAW participants have already contacted him about becoming more involved in the IOP this coming semester.

Cassandra E. Weston ’14, who ran a workshop on spoken word poetry, said that the workshop generated such a positive response that she plans to expand the workshop into a spoken word club on campus.

Administrators in University Hall are also looking back on the week.

Erin Goodman, manager of winter break operations for the College, said earlier that the administration had approved about 100 OWAW programs. The College administration does not know the exact number of students that participated in the activities, but plans to issue a survey soon to evaluate the week’s success.

However, for some College offices, the week’s outcome is already clear. Office of Career Services director Robin S. Mount called the week a “huge success” because, she said, it allowed students to focus on applying to internships before the stress and distraction of shopping week began.

During OWAW, OCS hosted breakfast “Power Prep” sessions, extended drop-in hours, and, at the end of the week, an Etiquette Dinner that taught the 100 students in attendance the proper way to act and eat in business situations.

In addition to these sessions, some students prepared for the interview season by participating in one of many organized programs, such as a four-day accounting course taught by a professor from Harvard Business School.

Other students used OWAW to finish projects for various clubs.

Harvard Undergraduate Television members, who had been writing their short film, “Snowflake,” since summer of 2010, completed filming during the week.

According to Sean B. Goller ’12, the film’s producer and a former Crimson video chair, OWAW provided an opportunity to attract students to an activity that they otherwise might not have had time for during the year.

“A lot of students at Harvard are really interested in filmmaking, but since it’s such a time-intensive project, a lot of students don’t have time during the school year to do it with a courseload,” Goller said.

Although many students participated in OWAW activities, some preferred to remain home for the additional week.

Others said that lack of publicity for OWAW activities meant that they were not aware of things happening throughout the week and therefore they did not return.

“I knew OWAW was happening, but beyond that I didn’t know exactly what was happening,” said Samara R. Oster ‘13.

—Staff writer Monika L.S. Robbins can be reached at mrobbins@college.harvard.edu

—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at hrouse@college.harvard.edu.

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