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Harvard Inaugurates 'Porch' Common Space


President Drew G. Faust watches as Jonathan L. Walton, the Pusey Minister of the Memorial Church, speaks at the opening of the Porch, Harvard's newest Common Space. The ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday morning included coffee and baked goods from Memorial Cafe, and began at the close of morning chapel.
President Drew G. Faust watches as Jonathan L. Walton, the Pusey Minister of the Memorial Church, speaks at the opening of the Porch, Harvard's newest Common Space. The ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday morning included coffee and baked goods from Memorial Cafe, and began at the close of morning chapel.
By Zohra D. Yaqhubi, Crimson Staff Writer

University President Drew G. Faust, Reverend Johnathan L. Walton, and other members of the Harvard community gathered outside Memorial Church on Wednesday to inaugurate Harvard’s newest common space, “The Porch.”

Located on the steps of Memorial Church facing Tercentenary Theatre, The Porch features new benches and seating open for students and community members. The space is a part of Harvard’s Common Spaces Initiative and the product of a collaboration between the church and Harvard’s Event Management Office. Organizers say the goal of the space is to provide community members a break from the regimented structure of daily life.

Vice President for Campus Services Lisa Hogarty said that the site is envisioned to play a role in the community beyond Convocation and Commencement, perhaps hosting additional events such as poetry readings.

“Because of [The Porch’s] location in the middle of the yard, it knits together all the common spaces that we’ve created” Hogarty said. She added that she hoped the space would provide a place “where people can come and reflect and feel completely welcome.”

Michael E. Danto ’13, who attended the event, said he thinks having a common space central to campus will create unity among students.

“I think it’ll be drawing the community together,” said Danto, who is also an inactive Crimson photo editor. “It’s one thing to be walking across Tercentenary Theatre to go to class, but it’s quite another to have people sort of sitting and relaxing, and sort of staying in place and being with each other,” he added.

The Common Spaces Initiative—introduced by Faust in 2008—aims to develop parts of campus in order to facilitate community and interaction for students and faculty.

At the event, Faust said the Boston Marathon bombings demonstrated the “force, strength, and necessity” of a strong Harvard community, adding that common spaces are important to foster cohesion.

Acknowledging The Porch’s location at the steps of Memorial Church, Walton said he hopes the space will serve as “a space of grace for all people.”

“The Porch is not looking to be anything more than what it is—a place to share, a place to care, a place to give, and a place just simply, to live,” Walton said. “But most importantly, The Porch is just a place to belong.”

—Staff writer Zohra D. Yaqhubi can be reached at zyaqhubi@college.harvard.edu. Follow her on Twitter at @zohradyaqhubi.

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