College Struggles With Social Space

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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.

The Freshman Space Working Group—a collection of students and administrators formed earlier this school year to address concerns with freshman social space—recommended, among other things, that the College renovate the common rooms of freshman dorms and that Annenberg Dining Hall remain open for longer hours, giving freshmen another space in which to socialize.

Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds is currently reviewing their recommendations and any planned changes to freshman social space have yet to be finalized.


Other students search for easier access to alcohol and greater availability of events with alcohol, a desire that the administration may never be able to meet.

“I think the biggest problem is that we don’t have a place of our own, away from our proctors and away from school regulations,” says John Kye ’14.

Administrators recognize that some percentage of Harvard students see socializing as intoxicated partying and seek a large on-campus venue in which to replicate the atmosphere of parties that take place in cramped dorm rooms.

But despite student pleas for a school-sanctioned on-campus party space, administrators say that the type of social space that those Harvard students are asking for is impossible for them to provide.

“We can’t be a refuge from the laws of the Commonwealth,” Dean of Freshman Thomas A. Dingman ’67 said during a March interview on the results of the FDO’s freshman survey. That survey revealed a desire among freshmen for a more lenient alcohol policy in the Yard, where alcohol is banned from dorms entirely.

“The biggest problem I have with the Harvard social scene is that freshman guys don’t have enough space to throw down our own parties,” Kye says. “A couple of times me and my roommates wanted to throw down in our own room and we got busted by our proctors.”


Still other students ask for the creation of new casual social space. For decades, this desire for new space has manifested itself in calls for an on-campus student center—a central building for on-campus social life.

Brian I. Choi ’13 says that he sees a student center as “a place where students are actually comfortable hanging out in.”

“I don’t think students at Harvard have a space for that,” says Choi, also a Crimson photo editor.

Students say that although Harvard may intend for Houses to be “microcosms of the College,” they often want to meet students outside of their Houses.