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Following undergraduate concerns over the limited social spaces available for first-year students, the Freshman Dean’s Office is piloting a new program to offer students bimonthly large-group social outings into Boston.
The $30,000 budget for the initiative comes from funds that were recently allocated to freshman social programming by Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana, according to Katherine W. Steele, the College’s director of freshman programming.
“We don’t have all the social space on campus that we need, particularly with the freshman class of 1,600 people,” Steele said, adding that the program represents a short-term solution to on-campus space constraints.
The new program coincides with growing University support for undergraduate social events. Earlier this month, University President Drew G. Faust said she had allocated a lump sum to the College administration to fund social activities.
Student concerns about wanting to find time to leave campus and explore Boston also influenced the creation of the program, which will consist of 10 outings throughout the academic year.
“One of the things that we often hear in the Freshman Dean’s Office is that people choose to come to Harvard because it’s in Boston,” Steele said. “Given that there’s so much to do, it’s an easy way to infuse more life into the Harvard experience.”
So far, the Freshman Dean’s Office has hosted one outing to Laser Quest in West Roxbury. According to Torey E. Martin, the fellow for first-year programs, out of 109 freshmen who indicated interest in the event, 58 took part in the outing.
“The hope is that because [the program] is drawing from a wide variety of student interests...you’ll be meeting people across campus that you might not have had an opportunity to meet before,” Martin said. “It’s neat to see those connections.”
Martin added that the program is meant to be as accessible as possible; events will be heavily subsidized.
“The goal is to try and offer the event to as many students interested in attending,” Martin said. “We’re trying to find activities and events that would allow us to do that with the cost.”
To help plan the outings, the FDO established an off-campus social planning board, composed of at least four freshmen out of eight students in total. Although applications were officially due last Sunday, Martin said she encourages any interested students to still apply.
“We’re going to be trying to see what is it that students really want, and is bringing people off campus...what people want, or should we be doing something different?”Steele said. “It seemed like it could be a new addition to the social scene that doesn’t exist right now.”
—Staff writer R. Blake Paterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BlakePat95.
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