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DSO Anticipates Harvard-Yale Programming, Reviews Blocking Process

The Quincy Grille is just one of several House Grilles that are temporarily closed due to labor shortages and the need for additional employee training.
The Quincy Grille is just one of several House Grilles that are temporarily closed due to labor shortages and the need for additional employee training. By Camille G. Caldera
By Hannah J. Martinez, Crimson Staff Writer

Administrators at the Dean of Students Office discussed the upcoming Harvard-Yale game, their review of the blocking process, and the House grille reopening strategy in a Friday interview with The Crimson.

Assistant Dean of Student Engagement Kate Colleran said the DSO and the College Events Board are planning a spate of in-person activities leading up to the Harvard-Yale game, which will be hosted in New Haven this year.

Though Yale will not be hosting Harvard students this year due to Covid-19 concerns, Colleran said she believes the in-person programming will get “students all revved up” for The Game.

“We do have a Harvard-Yale roast that we’ll still have, so that’s like a fun comedy night,” Colleran said. “There’s a faculty member who does a talk about the history of The Game, but from a comedic point of view.”

Colleran added that the schools usually hold a competition rooted in a meaningful societal contribution, such as the blood drive that occured at the last Harvard-Yale game.

The DSO also spoke about its ongoing review of the blocking process — the process by which freshmen choose the classmates with whom they want to live in an upperclassman house — that is being conducted in tandem with Graduate School of Education professor Richard J. Light and his research team.

Dean of Students Katherine G. O’Dair said the idea for the review came from an Undergraduate Council survey in which undergraduates indicated the blocking process was one of many stressors for College students.

“Blocking seemed to come up multiple times, and so we decided that we would take an evidence-based approach to looking into it and investigating and seeing what the problem is and what possible action items or solutions could be,” O’Dair said.

O’Dair said that the group’s focus would be centered on the issues that students commonly encounter before and during the blocking period, which takes place in early March.

“Part of this group is going to diagnose what that problem [with the blocking process] is,” O’Dair said. “Just even discussing the blocking process in September creates stress for students, thinking that they have to have a certain number of group of friends with whom they will be living next year, and that seems awfully soon.”

The group conducting the review is planning to collect data on students’ thoughts on blocking, Associate Dean of Students Lauren E. Brandt ’01 added.

“I believe they’re also working on some surveys, I anticipate that there will be some outreach to students who are interested in sharing their experience,” Brandt said.

The group will also be utilizing tools other than student outreach to assess blocking, including “benchmarking” processes comparable to blocking at other institutions, O’Dair said.

The interview concluded with administrators providing an update on the reopening of House grilles.

“I know that the House grilles and the student managers of the House grilles have been working hard with environmental health and safety and our partners in HUDS. There are a lot of moving pieces to open up the House grilles,” Brandt said. “They are working their way through that list.

“We really want to make sure that they’re well trained, that they have the resources that they need, and that they can open the spaces in the way that feels best suited for their communities,” Brandt added.

When asked about the timeline for grille reopenings in a September interview, the DSO administrators declined to provide a tentative date.

—Staff writer Hannah J. Martinez can be contacted at hannah.martinez@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @martinezhannahj.

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