By Peyton A. Jones
Lowell House is every freshman’s dream — newly renovated, a sweet community, and a source of all the funky traditions you could ever ask for. The House’s unofficial mascot is Bacchus, the Roman god of festivities, which is wholly appropriate considering the fact that any first-years lucky enough to get sorted into Lowell will be celebrating all year long. If you’re looking to find out more about the teas, speeches, and other perks that make Lowell great, we’ve got the inside scoop for you!
The days of swing housing are over! The centrally located and beautifully updated space will house all Lowellians beginning this fall. Lowell’s new house will host 415 lucky students, which is up from the 370 previously in swing housing. We got the low(ell) down on what living in the new house will be like (spoiler alert: it’s a dream come true!). One of Lowell’s current HoCo Chairs, Carrington L. Walsh ’20, informed us that Lowell’s new house will have several large suites, with most housing five or more students.
Lowellians will also have access to two courtyards and a whole host of amenities. Some of the luxuries Lowellians can look forward to in the new house include a number of music practice rooms, a yoga studio, basketball court, a “maker space” outfitted with a 3D-printer, a party lounge, and a movie screening room, to name just a few. New Lowell residents will get the privilege of moving into a completely new space and being the first to explore all the nooks and crannies of the new buildings.
Lowell’s new space might be the most visible feature of the house, but the community is what makes Lowell truly special. Even during swing housing, Lowellians tend to gather together and make any space feel cozy. A quick trip to the Lowtel perfectly captures the essence of Lowell House. At virtually any time of day (or night!), students in the house can be found hanging out, playing ping pong, collaborating on psets, or just catching up in the dhall and lobby. We’re certain Lowellians will appreciate their new digs this fall, and the spirit of the Lowell community that kept the house close during swing will make sophomores instantly feel at home. Akash Bagaria ’21, a sophomore living in the Lowtel, — the building that houses the dining hall — affirmed the oft-repeated line that Lowell’s community is everything to its residents. When asked to compare Lowell to a TV show, Bagaria said, “Lowell is The Office, for sure. Not only because I’m a huge fan of The Office…but also because there’s quite the assortment of characters in Lowell…and I’ve gotten to meet those people through the various steins and teas that have been arranged on a weekly basis.” If you’re not sold on Lowell by the chance to live life in everyone’s favorite Netflix binge series, we don’t know what to tell you.
House spirit is easy to spot if you spend any length of time at Lowell. From their notoriously goofy House-wide email list to the Lowell speeches series, students in the House seem to truly love being a part of the Lowell family. One particularly visible quirk is the rubber duck. What started as a prank on a tutor has escalated into a joke across the entire house, and now little rubber ducks can be found in almost “any Lowell building in swing,” according to Walsh (fun fact: if you look closely, there are a few watching over the Lowtel dhall). While Lowellians themselves are the source of the house’s beloved inside jokes, the end of swing housing signals the return of one of Lowell’s wackiest traditions, the Lowell Bellringer Society. Trained by Russian monks, this group of Lowellians is a mysterious society dedicated to the proper care and ringing of the house’s beloved bells, an audible reminder of the residents’ dedication to Lowell’s unique culture.
While Lowell is all about fun and games, they also know how to throw a good party. Future Lowellians can look forward to breaking in the new space with Glowell, Yule Ball, and Bacchanalia, which take place in October, December, and May, respectively. Events at Lowell are hardly an occasional occurrence, though. Lowell’s Thursday Teas are an iconic part of House culture, drawing students from all classes to enjoy conversation, treats, and tea together near the end of the weekly grind. The Lowtel has hosted teas during swing housing, but the event traditionally takes place in a Faculty Dean’s residence. The teas also feature Tea Fairies, including Walsh. Tea Fairy duties are just as magical as the name implies: they make “the most delicious homemade baked goods,” according to former HoCo chair Juliana R. Rodriguez ’19, who jokes that her tea attendance is better than her class attendance. The company and beverages are warm, and the built-in time to decompress from the stress of school draws crowds from all around campus.
First-years sorted into Lowell can look forward to joining a community that endures beyond graduation. Rodriguez says that Lowell’s “vibrant” Senior Common Room is a lesser-known but incredibly important feature of the House’s spirit. Alumni of Lowell House (which include icons like Matt Damon and Natalie Portman) tend to affiliate with the House’s Senior Common Room and remain active members of House life in events like High Table, in which Lowell seniors get the opportunity for a wholesome meal and reflection on their time at Harvard with members of the Senior Common Room. The students and staff also duke it out over Trivia Night, a semesterly head-to-head battle between the Junior and Senior Common Rooms — a competition Walsh describes as “very heated and very fun.” For those less familiar with the ins and outs of Lowell life, the Junior Common Room is both a room in the new house as well as a community made up of all undergraduates living in or affiliated with Lowell. The Senior Common Room, like the JCR, will occupy a space in the new house, and is a network of alumni, tutors, administrators, and Harvard community members that choose to affiliate with the house. Together, both groups make life in the house the perfect combination of quirky, wholesome, and genuine for those lucky enough to call Lowell home.
Just in case you haven’t heard enough about Lowell, we asked the current and former Lowell HoCo chairs some hard-hitting questions about the house.
We know all the first-years are excited for Lowell because it’s a shiny new house, but what else do you think potential Lowellians should know about the House?
CW: It’s the spirit of Lowell that makes Lowell, not just the house.
JR: Like, we love the new building and we’re excited to move back into the House...
CW: ...but there’s so much more to it than just a building!
If you could describe Lowell in two words, what would it be?
CW: Accessible bougieness, that’s exactly what Lowell is!
Anything else you want first-years to know about Lowell?
CW: Lowell your expectations! Bust down Lowelliana! No, but seriously — Get Lowell!
Correction: March 12, 2019
The original version of this article stated that the rubber duck prank was on a Faculty Dean; it was in fact on a house tutor.
Read our overviews of the other Houses here.