University President Drew G. Faust has allocated a lump sum to Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana to fund undergraduate social events, including a large party this Friday, a move that comes on the heels of calls for the College to create more on-campus social spaces.
Faust said she freed up the money—she declined to specify the amount—to Khurana in response to students and administrators who have asked to bolster on-campus social spaces in light of recent campus events.
Students, alumni, and administrators have spent the better part of the semester so far debating the role of the College’s off-campus final clubs, with Faust herself criticizing the eight all-male groups and raising concerns about the potential for alcohol abuse and sexual assault to occur on their properties. Shortly after her comments, the Spee Club moved to go co-ed.
Just weeks later, Harvard released the grim results of its sexual assault climate survey, again sparking the debate about social space—especially alternatives to final clubs—as students argued that the College should provide safe and open places in which undergraduates can socialize.
Faust, for her part, said the new funds fit into Khurana’s broader goal of increasing undergraduate social events. “One thing he’s emphasizing and putting some attention to is social spaces and safe social events, and so I’ve transferred some funds to him to help support that effort,” Faust said.
Khurana, who described the fund as a “generous amount,” said Faust offered the money as a preliminary measure “to be used alongside College funds to support a variety of different student social activities” as administrators begin discussing a long-term plan to further fund the College’s social life.
College administrators will decide how to distribute the resources in coordination with undergraduates, Khurana said. Already, the dean—who is also the co-master of Cabot House—has directed a portion of the money to fund part of a large party that women’s groups on campus plan to host on Friday night. The event, dubbed the “Blank Party” and free and open to all undergraduates, will take place in the Science Center Plaza.
Khurana could receive more money for such initiatives in the future, according to Faust. “It’s going to be an ongoing conversation about how much more he needs,” she said. “This was just meant for an initial start.”
It is not usual course for Faust, who as president also oversees all of Harvard’s graduate schools and travels the globe to fundraise for the University, to allocate funds specifically for undergraduate parties. But administrators at the College level have taken other steps to bolster the student social scene. Most recently, some Houses, including Khurana’s Cabot, opened renovated spaces where undergraduates can host parties and other events.
—Staff writers Mariel A. Klein and Theodore R. Delwiche contributed to the reporting of this story.
—Staff writer Noah J. Delwiche can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ndelwiche.