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College Funds Pre-Yardfest Neighborhood Block Parties

By Derek G. Xiao, Crimson Staff Writer

Although students are not set to gather in Tercentenary Theater for Yardfest until 5 p.m. this Sunday, the party will be well underway around campus by that time.

In a collaboration with the Office of Student Life, the Undergraduate Council, and the House Committees, this year the College will hold four pre-Yardfest neighborhood block parties starting at 3 p.m. that day, each with free food, drinks, and entertainment.

Individual neighborhoods, which consist of three upperclassmen Houses, will each host their own festivities.

On the Quad lawn, residents of Cabot, Currier, and Pforzheimer Houses have been invited to enjoy a giant inflatable slide, photo booth, live music by a DJ, and Felipe’s nachos and churros.

Likewise, residents of the River East Houses—Mather, Leverett, and Dunster—can join their neighbors in Leverett Towers Courtyard for a bouncy house, cotton candy, and a live band.

Students of River Central Houses—Adams, Quincy, and Lowell—can expect to find many of similar attractions in the Lowell Courtyard, as can those of River West Houses—Eliot, Winthrop, and Kirkland—in Winthrop House’s Gore Courtyard.

While emphasizing that all four parties are open to all undergraduates and not just the residents of each neighborhood, Daniel V. Banks ’17, vice president of the UC and co-chair of Dunster HoCo, said he views the initiative as unprecedented in its scope and funding in his three years at the College.

“This is not going to be your regular Stein Club,” Banks said. “This is going to be a massive event, and four of them will be going on across campus, and everyone is invited. This is something that has never been done before.”

Mather HoCo co-chair Trevor A. Mullin ’17 agreed. Speaking to the history of his own House, Mullin said last year was the first time he recalled that his House hosted an independent pre-Yardfest event.

“This year we really wanted there to be a larger, more inclusive space for all House residents to come beforehand to feel like they’re part of a bigger community,” he said.

Funding for the neighborhood block parties primarily came from the OSL, with additional money from the Undergraduate Council and individual HoCos, according to Emily S. Rutter, a Fellow for House Programs at the OSL, and multiple HoCo chairs.

The neighborhood socials come amid ongoing discussion on campus about social spaces, House life, and the responsibility of the College to stymie the influence of off-campus groups.

“I think a really important part of what we’re trying to do is to make sure that House life continues to be vibrant,” Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana said.

He added that the OSL is listening to student input in an effort to create social alternatives and events on campus, which in the past have included new social spaces, pilot approaches to registering social events in the Houses, and a revived music scene.

Mullin argued that because of the availability of social spaces on campus, some organizations have developed a “monopoly on outside pregames and garden parties before Yardfest.”

“We know that other organizations do have pregames, but those are quite exclusive,” Mullin said. “And not that these [neighborhood block parties] would compete with those, but we’d really like to have more events where any community member from our House, and also other Houses, can feel welcome in their communities and can partake in the festivities before Yardfest.”

–Staff writer Derek G. Xiao can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @derekgxiao.

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