The Freshmen Space Working Group recommended that the College renovate freshman common rooms and that Annenberg Dining Hall remain open for longer hours in a report intended to address freshmen’s concerns regarding the availability of social space.
Submitted Monday to Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds, the report suggests that certain freshman common rooms be reconfigured into specialized spaces like film-screening rooms, game rooms, and lounges.
Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman ’67 said that he thinks the lack of use-specific common rooms can create a “tension” between students who use common rooms to socialize and those who use them to study.
“The current space doesn’t work because it serves multiple purposes and people get aggravated by multiple activities,” Dingman said.
Dingman pointed to the Wigglesworth common room as a space that could be used more effectively.
If the recommendations are approved, not all freshman common rooms would be renovated. According to Dingman, those that were recently upgraded—like the Matthews and Thayer common rooms—would likely not see any change.
The committee also suggested that Annenberg remain open longer, although Dingman said such a change could be cost-prohibitive.
Dingman added that the group is looking into on-campus spaces besides Annenberg that might be turned into additional social space for freshmen.
Led by Assistant Dean for Student Life David R. Friedrich, the working group—comprised of students and administrators—has spent the last few months evaluating social space in search of upgrades that would “improve the social experience,” Dingman said.
A survey conducted in December by the Freshman Dean’s Office revealed that a lack of social space is a primary concern among first year students.
UC President Senan Ebrahim ’12 said that if the committee’s recommendations are approved, he plans to help with the process of renovating freshman common rooms while at Harvard over the coming summer.
“We want to make the rooms a cooler place for freshmen to hang out in and we want the freshmen who live in the dorms to feel more ownership of the space,” he said.
According to Ebrahim, the committee considered modifications that could be made with a limited budget and within a short time frame when drafting its recommendations.
“Fixing a common room under Wigglesworth would be a lot cheaper than building a $5 million student center,” Dingman said.
The report also recommended the creation of more freshman-specific programming and the creation of a centralized events calendar.
Dingman said that the source of funding for any approved changes has not yet been determined.
Hammonds commissioned the Freshman Space Working Group to address first year’s concerns about the availability of space.
She will review the group’s suggestions before any plans are finalized.
—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.