Mi futura casa
Last week, Harvard freshmen entered a random lottery (the only control is for gender) that determines what upperclassmen house they will live in for the rest of their undergraduate stay at Harvard. Only 2% of Harvard students decide to live off-campus, making this a big deal for all students. The house system exists for freshmen to create friendships and a sense of community.
Students are allowed to form blocking groups of up to eight students to ensure that undergraduates have friends in the same upperclassmen house. Blocking groups are also able to link to another blocking group; this means that they will be placed in houses near each other so as to make sure that friends stay together. Those students who do not block with anyone are called “floaters.” I’m a floater in a sea of blocks.
Some blocking groups stay really close all four years, yet others disintegrate the moment the lottery results are out. Just like any relationship, it depends on the effort each party involved puts in.
Harvard and Yale both have this housing system, but I prefer Harvard’s because Yale puts students into houses randomly before they enter the university, whereas Harvard gives students the option to choose a number of potential roommates and enter a house together. This aspect of the housing system was one of the more important factors to come to Harvard. Though Yale may be updating each house to modern standards and some of Harvard’s houses may be not up to modern regulations, that can be damned if I end up at a house and I don’t know anyone in there. I’d rather live in a house with no roof and people I enjoy living with than live in a refurbished room but with people I dislike.
I created a map of Harvard’s houses just to illustrate the system a bit.
Click around and you can see the differences in the locations of the houses. Most people want to live as close to the Yard as possible, thereby Dunster, Mather, and the Quad Houses are looked down upon. I, however, want to be live in Mather, the newest of the River Houses, or at the Quad just because for the fact that they’re far from the center of campus. They’re calmer, less visitors from outside, have great room arrangements (most have singles within suites!).
The biggest magnet of these houses is how those who live in those houses love it there. I have yet to meet someone who dislikes living there. All of them are happy of where they are, more so than people at Eliot, Quincy, or Adams. I hope to be at Mather most of all. Though its architecture is grotesque, it is just very lively and welcoming. Conan O’Brien, who lived in Mather House while at Harvard, described it during a speech at Harvard in 2000 as having been “designed by the same firm that built Hitler’s bunker. In fact, if Hitler had conducted the war from Mather House, he’d have shot himself a year earlier.” Last night, someone from Mather emailed me, and I’m guessing all Harvard freshmen, a link to a video produced by Mather students promoting Mather House.
I want to be in Mather House very badly, but I won’t jinx it by planning the victory parade just now (Boston Mayor Menino did that before the Super Bowl, which according to superstition should not be done, and the Patriots lost the Super Bowl).