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‘A Very Untraditional Circumstance’: HoCo Chairs Try To Keep Housing Day Traditions Alive, Virtually

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House Committee chairs said they are working to create as normal of a Housing Day as possible this month, despite the abnormal circumstances of a virtual Housing Day for the second consecutive year amid an ongoing global pandemic.

“We want to try and continue the traditions, and we’re in a very untraditional circumstance being virtual,” Liam M. F. Hall ’23, a Quincy House Committee chair, said.

Housing Day — slated to take place on March 12 — is an annual spirited tradition in which upperclassmen “dorm-storm” freshmen to inform them of their assignment to one of the twelve upperclassmen houses. House Committee chairs are responsible for planning Housing Day events for their respective houses, which typically include recording a house-themed music video and planning house-wide socials.

Rachel L. Reynolds ’22, a House Committee chair for Lowell House and a Crimson Flyby chair, said building enthusiasm has been one of the major challenges in planning Housing Day.

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“The biggest thing is trying to keep up the enthusiasm that there is in a normal year with Housing Day,” Reynolds said. “But that’s a little harder, especially when we try to recognize that we have a whole class of sophomores that also didn’t get a Housing Day experience, and how we can make sure that they also feel really excited about welcoming in freshmen, even when they have not necessarily had that experience yet.”

Some House Committee chairs said they were brainstorming new virtual activities for Housing Day to help establish rapport between incoming freshmen and upperclassmen.

“There are a lot of ideas that are being floated around,” said Itay Dvir ’22, a House Committee chair for Currier House. “For example, like a virtual escape room is a great way to meet some different people.”

Hall added that Quincy’s House Committee is planning a house-wide trivia night to help incoming freshmen feel “connected to the House.”

Dylan Zhou ’22, a House Committee chair for Dunster House, said he has considered recreating Dunster House virtually on a platform called Gather.town.

“You can basically build rooms that you can connect together on this platform, and it’s sort of like Pokemon: you have an avatar, and you can walk around, and you can set tables, and talk to people,” Zhou said. “We have a dining hall right now. And we’re going to try to see if people like that. If it goes well, we might try to build some other parts of Dunster, like the library.”

Besides planning house-wide activities, some House Committee chairs said they were also working on creating their Housing Day videos, a tradition in which house affiliates gather to film a music video to show off their house.

Currier House Committee chair Caroline M. Kubacki ’22 said the committee is currently “working through” their plans for a Housing Day video.

“We’re trying to balance bringing that Currier pride and also recognizing that you can’t film with large groups on campus, and Currier is currently transformed via social distance space so it’s not full of its livelihood,” she said.

Kirkland House Committee chair Elijah J. Suh ’22 said there were many technical complications with filming the video with so many students living off-campus.

“Normally, it’s easy — you would just wrangle up whatever volunteers you wanted, like shoot in your courtyard or something like that,” he said. “But now we don’t really have that, because maybe some of the people who would be normally integrated with this, or really have a passion for video-making, or design, or production, or directing — like maybe aren’t on campus.”

Michelle G. Kurilla ’22, a Mather House Committee chair and Crimson News comp director, said the Mather committee will be “mindful” while creating their Housing Day video.

“We haven’t specifically set what actual filming the video is going to be like yet,” she said. “However, we do recognize that students are both on campus, off campus, and we have to be mindful of Harvard’s policies and our moral obligations to the Cambridge community at large.”

Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana said in a Thursday interview he believes it is “critical” to continue to celebrate school traditions, such as Housing Day.

“I believe that it’s really critical to continue to find ways to maintain rites of passage and transition. I especially believe that is true when it comes to Housing Day and knowing which communities that you are going to be connected to,” Khurana said.

“The pandemic has disrupted so many of our lives in so many different ways,” he added. “But I think we can be creative and nimble and upbeat about how we can make the best of the situation we have.”

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

—Staff writer Sixiao Yu can be reached at sixiao.yu@thecrimson.com.

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