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All Harvard Houses will begin implementing inter-House restrictions for Thursday "Community Night" dinners, the Office of Student Life said Wednesday evening, two weeks after the start of the new school year.
The new policy, which is slated to take effect today, was announced in an email sent to the student body by Dean of the Office of Student Life Stephen Lassonde.
“There is a sense among the Masters as a group that the leadership across the College could do more to enhance students’ sense of belonging at Harvard,” Lassonde wrote in a follow-up email to The Crimson. “All of us: masters, deans, tutors and proctors, and those of us in the Dean’s Office are aware of a kind of centripetal force pulling all of you away toward other concerns and commitments from the moment you arrive here.”
The idea of restricted community dinners is not new to the Houses. However, the dinners were usually staggered on different days of the week. With the change, students will no longer be allowed to eat dinner in a House other than their own on Thursdays.
According to Lassonde, the change was agreed upon in “an effort to limit any confusion” and provide Houses with a designated day on which to host their special dinners.
Lassonde also admitted that these changes do “restrict choice and convenience” but added that these problems are easily solvable.
“It may mean that you have to plan a little better on Thursday evenings,” Lassonde said. “But remember...the restriction ends across the College at seven, so one could eat anywhere by seven.”
Lassonde added that Mather House is now open for dinner until 8 p.m. on Thursdays and that Quad House dining halls will remain open until 7:30 p.m.
Representatives from the Undergraduate Council were skeptical about the new development.
“I've always felt that passing restrictions that limit behavior is not the way to build true community—it has to come from within, from positive reinforcement, from actively bringing communities together,” UC Vice President Sietse K. Goffard ’15 wrote in an email. “It also makes student meetings or get-togethers over dinner almost impossible to do on Thursdays. Student groups or study groups that have met over dinner on Thursdays in the past will be unable to do so now. In that sense, the restrictions will actually inconvenience student life.”
“I'm not convinced that these community nights actually foster community in any meaningful way,” UC President Gus A. Mayopoulos '15 added.
Some students said they worry that the change could negatively affect students living in the Quad.
“I understand...why it could be a good idea for the Houses,” said Taikye Wright-Brown ‘16, a Cabot resident. “But I also do believe that it’s slightly inconvenient for students who may have lab, sections, or other responsibilities that they have to take care of that require them to be near the River Houses around dinner time.”
—Staff writer Kamara A. Swaby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @SwabyK.
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