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Hundreds Sign Petition to End 'Community Night' Dining Restrictions

A student-led petition to eliminate Thursday "community night" dining hall restrictions in upperclassmen Houses has garnered hundreds of signatures, with some students saying the rule presents an inconvenience.

The restrictions prohibit students from dining outside of their own Houses on Thursday evenings. They extend to all Houses, with the exception of Currier House.

The College's Office of Student Life implemented the restrictions in 2014 in an effort to boost House spirit. Some students note that although the restrictions are good in intention, they are often a hassle to navigate.

Dining Halls

College administrators said at the time that although the restrictions "restrict choice and convenience," they ultimately aim to increase students' "sense of belonging" to their Houses.

Still, students said they feel limited by the policy.

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“I have a lot of meetings on Thursdays and I’m in the Yard for most of the evening so it would be so nice for me to able to go and eat in Quincy, but unfortunately, with the restrictions, I can’t,” said Zahra Rawji ’19, who lives in Dunster House.

To channel his dismay with the Community Night restrictions, Joel W. Bateman ‘17, a resident of Kirkland House, created an online petition to draw attention to student frustrations over the policy and bring an end the policy.

“Honestly, I really just threw up a Google Form on Facebook on a whim because it was a Thursday night and I was frustrated,” Bateman said.

According to Bateman, the petition received 275 signatures without any effort to publicize.

“A lot of the comments speak volumes to the problems that Community Night causes,” Bateman said. He added he found a lot of complaints from Quad House residents who wish to eat in River Houses on Thursdays.

While he has not directly pursued the issue with College administration, Bateman said that Undergraduate Council President Yasmin Z. Sachee ’18 has access to the petition and has offered to bring the subject up at the Council's next meeting with College administrators. Sachee did not respond to requests for comment.

Bateman suggested potential alternatives to the current Thursday restrictions, including reverting to an old system in which Houses restrict dining hall access on different nights throughout the week.

“I wouldn’t be opposed to a system where people are assigned to a certain table and you get to meet new people in your House, because I’d really love to get to know more people,” Rawji said. “However, right now, the policy just ends up being an inconvenience to most.”

—Staff writer Lauren A. Sierra can be reached at lauren.sierra@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @LaurenASierra.

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