Student organizations and the admissions office held a wide variety of events across campus as part of the weekend-long program hosted annually by the College to welcome admitted students to the school. Many admitted students stayed with current College students, allowing them a glimpse into sense of residential and social life at Harvard.
Admitted student Cathy K. Sun, who said she has committed to matriculating in the fall, said she appreciated going to student organizations’ events and experiencing campus culture at Visitas.
“I think it’s been fantastic. I went to the [Institute of Politics] event and I went to the Harvard College Democrats and Republicans debate,” Sun said. “I think so far it definitely has appeared to me that Harvard is very much a cohesive community.”
The weekend’s festivities kicked off with a Saturday afternoon welcome address given by administrators. Prospective members of the Class of 2022 and their parents packed Sanders Theatre to capacity.
Dean of Admissions William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 welcomed visitors to the event and began his portion of the program by praising the quality of this year’s admitted students, whom he said the admissions office knows have been “admitted everywhere.”
"Because we've read your applications so thoroughly, we know how good you are,” Fitzsimmons said. "You're on the victory tour."
Fitzsimmons then introduced outgoing University President Drew G. Faust, lauding milestones she achieved during her tenure and declaring she made the campus “a much, much better place” than it was 11 years ago.
"We've never had a better President—we never will have a better President at Harvard than Drew Faust," Fitzsimmons said.
Faust then welcomed the students by asking the room to give a round of applause for the 66-member admissions committee that voted to admit them.
"Let's start out with a round of applause for those really smart people,” Faust said.
Faust highlighted the growth of the arts, the expansion of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and new opportunities for public service at Harvard. She also emphasized the importance of a campus environment where exploring opportunities forms “the heart of your experience.”
"If you come to Harvard, I hope you will come here ready to use it, ready to explore the feast of opportunities before you, and ready to make it your own,” Faust said.
Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana followed Faust’s speech in a “surprise" appearance, reciting the mission of the College before extolling the virtues of “the transformative power of a liberal arts and sciences education.”
Prospective students met with representatives from several hundred on-campus organizations at an extracurricular fair held at the Student Organization Center at Hilles Sunday afternoon. Many of the groups played music and handed out merchandise as admits wandered the stuffy, cacophonous hallways of the building.
At another point during the weekend, four professors discussed “big ideas” relating to their research in 10-minute presentations as part of a program titled "Visitas Thinks Big." Approximately 850 students attended the Sanders Theatre event.
Director of Admissions Marlyn E. McGrath Lewis ’70 called the event a “performance,” introducing each professor as a “performer” offering insight into the interests driving faculty research on a day-to-day basis.
Jack M. Goodwin, an admitted student, said he particularly enjoyed the presentation given by computer science professor David J. Malan ’99. Malan’s portion of the program included a demonstration of how algorithms can simplify otherwise laborious problem-solving tasks. One activity involved an audience self-count, which yielded a sum of 613 rather than 850—a result Malan added might be the consequence of a “bug.”
“I was very much sold on the CS50,” Goodwin said.
Max C. Serrano-Wu, another prospective student, said he appreciated the interactive nature of Malan’s talk and “the way he presented by including everyone.”
Though students said they enjoyed the scheduled Visitas events, several said they were surprised and concerned about recent campus unrest in the wake of the April 13 arrest of a black College student, which some have called an incident of police brutality.
Prospective students who entered Harvard Yard around noon Saturday encountered a demonstration of more than 200 Harvard students and affiliates, many with red duct tape over their mouths and signs in their hands. The protesters were demonstrating against University policies they say led to the Cambridge Police Department’s forcible arrest of the student.
A total of 1,962 out of 42,749 student applicants were admitted to the Class of 2022—making for a record-low admissions rate of 4.59 percent. Admitted students have until May 1 to respond to their offers of admission.
—Staff writer Delano R. Franklin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @delanofranklin_.—Staff writer Samuel W. Zwickel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @samuel_zwickel.