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New Policy Allows Freshmen to Reserve Common Rooms for Private Events

Parties in Freshmen Common Rooms
A new policy allows freshmen to host private events like birthday parties and movie nights in dorm common rooms.
A new policy will allow first-year students to reserve freshman dorm common rooms for private events, continuing a College-wide push to re-center social life in residential spaces.

The Freshman Dean’s Office announced the revised rule in an email to members of the Class of 2020 Tuesday. The new guidelines will allow students to host private events like birthday parties and movie nights in dorm common rooms, according to Michael C. Ranen, the resident dean for Ivy Yard. Previously, events reserved in dorm lounges had to be open to all first-year students and were advertised in the FDO’s weekly bulletin.

Ranen said he credits the new policy to the work of former Undergraduate Council President Shaiba Rather ’17 and Vice President Daniel V. Banks ’17, whose agenda last year focused on strengthening first-year social life. Rather and Banks worked closely with Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman ’67 and Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana in establishing the new policy, according to Ranen.

“The FDO and the College at large have always been trying to identify social spaces for first-year students,” Ranen said. “We want to make sure that freshmen have social opportunities in a safe environment.”

Freshman dorm common rooms will be available for reservation between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. on either Friday or Saturday nights, but not both. Students must submit event forms on Thursday before the event at the latest.

“We still want to preserve the spaces for students who just want to gather in an informal basis,” Ranen said.

First-year students may also apply to have their event funded by the FDO through the “First Year FUNd” program. As before, students are required to meet with the FDO to discuss their events as well as a potential budget. Past events funded by the First Year Fund program have typically been smaller-scale occasions under 50 people and have cost between $75 and $100.

Although proctors will not be directly supervising common room events, they will communicate with the host prior to the occasion. Dean Lee, a freshman proctor in Greenough Hall, said that he thinks the policy is an improvement, but supervision fall more heavily on proctors who live near the common spaces.

“I would treat it as any other people having an event in their own suite and I would still feel responsible to check in if it’s getting really out of control,” Lee said. “I think it will be helpful to prevent conflicts between people who want to use the room to study, versus people who want to have their own events.”

Creating social spaces for first-year undergraduates has been a priority of College administrators in recent years. In 2015, the student body voted to reject a ballot referendum by the Undergraduate Council that proposed turning Pusey Library, an underground repository containing the University’s archives and map collection, into a “freshmen-oriented social space.”

The College and FDO have attempted to address criticisms about a lack of freshman social spaces through funding “inclusive” College-wide parties and large-group social outings to Boston.

Arnav Agrawal ’20, a UC representative for Crimson Yard, said he thinks the new rules are better because they will allow freshmen to take more responsibility for hosting private events.

“I think it’s definitely a welcome move because it allows students greater access to affordable accessible social spaces on campus,” Agrawal said. “We’ve been seeing a lot of community conversations around that on this campus—where we have a dearth of social spaces—and that problem is aggravated for freshmen.”

The new rule will more closely mirror policies in the upperclassman residential Houses that allow students to book common spaces, like the Mather Junior Common Room and Cabot Aquarium, for parties. Unlike in the Houses, however, alcohol will continue to be banned in freshman dorms.

Ranen reiterated that the FDO’s alcohol policy will be enforced during private events held in freshman dorm common rooms.

“There is no alcohol allowed in the Yard and that will be strictly monitored,” he said.

—Staff writer Junina Furigay can be reached at junina.furigay@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @junina_furigay.

—Staff writer Kenton K. Shimozaki can be reached at kenton.shimozaki@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @KentonShimozaki

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