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Faust Drops in For Cabot Weekly Tea

Munching on snacks, students discuss calendar, careers with president

By Laurence H. M. holland, Crimson Staff Writer

Nibbling on biscotti and scones, Cabot House residents were treated to an appearance by University President Drew G. Faust at the House’s weekly tea yesterday, and students lined up to chat with the University’s leader—many for the first time.

Standing in front of the Cabot Living Room’s blazing hearth, Faust sipped a cup of tea—she took it black, though she said she was not particular.

As they descended upon her by the dozen, Faust asked each student what they would change about Harvard, and they responded with everything from better care at University Health Services to cable television in dorm rooms.

The crowd around Faust grew, and while waiting, students formed an impromptu receiving line where they brainstormed topics of conversation, including the next Cabot musical and Harvard’s new student pub.

Jessica A. Erickson ’10 said that she talked with Faust about the upcoming change to the academic calendar, but saved her highest praise for Faust’s social acumen.

“She had a firm handshake,” said Erickson, who approached Faust with two friends. “She remembered our names!”

Jay M. Harris, the master of Cabot House and a rumored candidate for the College deanship, said that the event gave Faust a chance to show students that she is approachable.

“Oh, she’s the president, I can’t talk to the president,” Harris said, imitating a terrified undergraduate. “But you know what? You can talk to the president.”

During the tea, Faust revealed that she can say two phrases in Chinese—though she declined to demonstrate.

Faust has also attended events in Kirkland House and Leverett House in the past two weeks, and a University spokesman said yesterday that she would be visiting each House to speak with students over the next year and a half.

Faust said that a few themes have emerged in her conversations with students. She said many have told her that they feel pressured to take jobs in finance, for instance, and added that she will be thinking about ways to make sure students feel free to pursue careers that they love.

Joshua D. Smith ’09 said that Faust seemed much more engaged when talking to students than her predecessor, Lawrence H. Summers.

“She was just much more interested in what we had to say,” Smith said. “Larry did a lot of great things for low-income students and everything, but I think she’s much more approachable and suave.”

Smith got to interact socially with Summers as well—he says he danced next to the former president at the freshman barbecue two years ago.

When asked whether he would dance with Faust, Smith said, “I definitely would—even closer.”

—Staff writer Laurence H. M. Holland can be reached at lholland@fas.harvard.edu.

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