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Harvard Students Host Virtual 'Black Visitas' for Prospective Freshmen

Students organized 'Black Visitas' to recreate elements of the in-person admitted students weekend for prospective members of the Class of 2024.
Students organized 'Black Visitas' to recreate elements of the in-person admitted students weekend for prospective members of the Class of 2024. By Michael Shao
By Jessica Lee and Christina T. Pham, Crimson Staff Writers

To supplement “Virtual Visitas” — Harvard College’s now-online admitted students weekend — student groups like the Harvard Black Students Association have organized “Black Visitas” to welcome new admits to Harvard and provide them with information about student life.

Christian Malachy M. Porter ’23, the publicity chair of the First-Year Black Table, said he hoped to bring elements of the Visitas experience to prospective members of the Class of 2024 before they decide where to attend college.

“No matter what the circumstances are, we want to welcome you, we want to congratulate you, and we want you here,” Porter said.

In preparation for Black Visitas, Harvard students created an Instagram page, multiple GroupMe chats for prospective students, Zoom panels with the boards of different black student organizations, a virtual mentor and mentee pair-up, and informational documents.

The Black Visitas Instagram page regularly posts “Org Spotlights,” where student leaders can introduce their organizations. The social media page also includes a series called “What Black Harvard Means to Me" focusing on current students’ experiences at Harvard.

The organizers of Black Visitas also compiled several informational documents to help prospective admits with their college decisions. One document included the contacts and concentrations of several black Harvard students. Another detailed why current students chose Harvard over other institutions.

“We want to be able to help them make that decision of why they should choose Harvard over another school, given that they’re now unable to get to campus to get a feel for the environment,” Jerry W. Registre ’21, who contributed to the informational documents, said.

Registre added that he has made himself a resource for prospective students to dispel misconceptions he says he once had about Harvard.

“When I thought of Harvard, I didn’t imagine a black student thriving at this school,” Registre said. “There were a lot of misconceptions that I had, and speaking with somebody who’s actually from this school can sometimes be all that you need to realize that, ‘Oh okay, all of these things that I had are misconceptions. I’m actually going to be able to have a good time. I’m actually going to be able to be myself.’”

Black Visitas has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from prospective students, according to Mubeen A. Momodu ’23, another contributor.

“Black Visitas and the strength of the black community at Harvard shows that even though this institution wasn’t originally made for us, it is an institution that we can thrive in together, where we support each other,” prospective student John T. Hatcher said.

Other prospective students also said they have found Black Visitas helpful.

Admit Travis Johnson’s said his virtual interactions over the past week have eased his qualms about leaving his family for college.

“The Black Students Association, they really became that family immediately. They reached out to us instantly, and made us feel welcomed. That shows to me the inclusive nature of Harvard on campus,” Johnson said.

Prospective student Maria F. De Los Santos said she appreciates that the effort was student-driven.

“It feels more down to earth and comfortable when you hear it from people that are in your own shoes, and not from administration or anything like that,” she said. “They’re reaching out and they’re giving us their personal information. It really feels nice — like an actual family.”

—Staff writer Jessica Lee can be reached at jessica.lee@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Christina T. Pham can be reached at christina.pham@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @Christina_TPham.

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