Don’t be fooled by Kirkland’s smaller population — this House is anything but small when it comes to house spirit and tradition. Located on the river, right next to Noch’s, and practically in the Square, Kirkland’s location is so prime it’s hard to beat. Count yourself lucky if you’re sorted into K-House.
Kirkland definitely isn’t lacking in the quirks department, but this only makes for a more tight-knit community. Some of Kirk’s most notable quirky traditions surround the holidays. Every year, Kirkland throws a Holiday Dinner right before its annual Winter Formal, where outgoing seniors and tutors get to take the stage (literally) and give their warm thanks and advice to the rest of K-House. But the holiday cheer doesn’t end here; perhaps Kirk’s most well-known tradition is its house-wide Secret Santa gift swap, which has even included acapella groups serenading giftees in years past.
Another pro for Kirkland is its tutors’ genuine commitment to the House. While every House claims to have the best tutors, HoCo co-chair Elijah J. Suh ’22 says that “Kirkland’s [tutors] legitimately are fantastic, each and every one.” Despite the fact that many of them were new in 2020 and plunged into their roles right as the pandemic began, they’ve worked extra hard to foster a sense of community for their residents. Plus, they have some of the cutest dogs on campus — with amazing staff and plenty of adorable pups, there’s no place quite like Kirkland!
Even the HUDS staff add a special touch to the Kirkland experience. Suh swears that whenever he or his friends are particularly stressed, the HUDS workers in Kirk give a “suspicious amount of food,” which he takes as them showing their love through unusually large serving sizes. “Maybe our HUDS staff are just nicer,” he added.
While the pandemic has certainly changed the lives of all Harvard students, K-House has preserved much of its House spirit and tradition, even with members living all across the globe. Its annual Secret Santa event became a virtual gift-swap, with students using Amazon to ship presents to their Santees worldwide. The anticipation and creativity involved with this adapted Secret Santa tradition made it just as exciting as the typical Kirkland swap, according to Suh.
The virtual events don’t end there. Kirkland has gone all out, even shipping out packages of indulgent treats to students to have a virtual chocolate, cheese, and wine tasting in place of its annual Sophomore Retreat (if you’re asking yourself why Harvard didn’t send you free chocolate, cheese, and wine, you’re not alone). K-House even hired a professional MC to host its virtual trivia night. Despite the hardship of fostering spirit with students living all over the world, Kirkland House has managed to keep its community thriving (and even spread some cheer through chocolate and cheese)!
Like in many of the older Houses yet to be renovated, sophomores are typically housed in the smallest rooms, usually doubles or triples, after seniors and juniors have had their pick. But hey, you still get to brag about living in the most recognizable Harvard House (thanks to “The Social Network”).
And don’t worry, it only gets better as you get older. Seniors tend to live on the highly sought-after top floor, as well as in the few desirable 10-man suites. Plus, Kirkland has some overflow housing in DeWolfe, which means heating AND AC! Kirk also has a lesser-known annex wing, housing entryways J through N. The annex isn’t attached to the main Kirkland complex; instead, it reigns over a quiet little corner away from the sometimes busy area between Memorial Drive and The Square, offering even more privacy for those who want it.
Curious to learn more about Kirk? We caught up with Suh to find out more about what exactly makes K-House the best House.
What’s one thing you would want freshmen to know about Kirkland?
EJS: If you didn’t have the opportunity to become ingrained within a system, whether that be getting really involved in extracurriculars, or finding a really close pset group, or even getting involved in your dorms’ IMs... I think Kirkland is just going to be that opportunity where if you really want to find a community, you’ll be able to find one.
If Kirkland were a fruit, what fruit would it be?
EJS: A kiwi. You wouldn’t know our color or what we look like on the inside based off of purely the weird exterior, but when you open it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what it entails.
Describe Kirkland in one word.
EJS: Weird… but a charming weird.
Read our overviews of the other Houses here!