College Struggles With Social Space

But other students look to the alcohol-induced fraternizing of cramped dorm parties for their social fix.

In its Report on Harvard House Renewal released in 2009, the House Program Planning Committee defined social space as places like “dining halls, grilles, small group study rooms, meeting rooms for student organizations, JCRs, Masters’ Residences, fitness rooms and athletic facilities” and recommended the creation of more such spaces.

But House Renewal—slated to begin in June of 2012 with Old Quincy—could take more than a decade to complete and remains a long-term solution.


For those who take issue with Harvard social space, no matter their definition of the problem, they are united on one thing—the social space problem is an obstacle to Harvard social life.

“It’s become one of the limiting reagents in the Harvard experience,” Undergraduate Council President Senan Ebrahim ’12 says.



Students and administrators—although they voiced various complaints about social space—largely expressed an interest in reutilizing existing spaces in Houses and the Yard.

Administrators say that better utilizing currently available ares is the immediate solution to the social space problem.

“We want to continue to evaluate current spaces as well as identify new spaces in an effort to effectively meet the social and programmatic needs of students,” says Assistant Dean for Student Life David R. Friedrich.

Some students echo the sentiments of administrators, calling for better utilization of the rooms that currently exist in Harvard’s Houses.

“I think that there’s a lot of social space in the Houses that maybe could be used more or used better,” says Anne G. Douglas ’12, Adams House Committee co-chair.

Student organization leaders, who say that it is often difficult to find on-campus space for events, agree that restrictions on some House rooms that are available only to House members are to blame in part for the apparent lack of social space.

“It’s completely feasible to open these spaces up,” says Jonathan L. Newmark ’12, president of the Harvard College Democrats.

Students also complain about a lack of social space during freshman year in particular.

Upperclassmen benefit from House life, but without that centralized social scene, many freshmen say that they have difficulty finding activities for weekend nights.