Smith Campus Center Answers Students' Need for More Common Spaces


Most of the Harvard community has by now gaped over the newly renovated Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center, which opened last week in time to welcome in the new school year. From the different cafes and restaurants located across the first floor, to the open deck covered with New England greenery, to the interestingly-shaped chairs located in the Harvard Common spaces, there is much to explore in this unique, dynamic building. We appreciate the thought put into every detail of this central space, and look forward to seeing similar improvements around Harvard locations in the future.

The greatest innovation  of the Smith Campus Center is that it now serves as a space in which the entire Harvard community can come together and connect. The spacious common spaces within the first two floors are welcome and sorely needed. Indeed, Harvard affiliates are already using them to gather and socialize. We are especially hopeful that opening a common space in the Square will catalyze further changes in social spaces and social life at Harvard.

We have long spoken about the need for more open social spaces on Harvard’s campus where students from different years and Houses could interact with each other and feel at home within the centrality of the Square. Building community requires a plethora of venue options, from party spaces within the Houses to the long-proposed but unrealized multicultural center. We understand that the University has trouble addressing all these concerns at once, not least because Cambridge real estate is difficult to acquire and campus is scattered across multiple focal points in the Square, Quad, and across the river.

The SOCH, which ostensibly functions as the College’s extracurricular office center and hub, illustrates the College’s difficulty in creating a hub for campus life. Its location in the Quad makes it prohibitively inconvenient for the vast majority of students who live closer to the Square. While the Smith Campus Center cannot redress all these needs and concerns, we hope that it will do much in the way of democratizing Harvard social life.


We also applaud the University’s decision to open up the building’s common spaces, located on the first two floors, to the community at large, allowing Cantabrigians, tourists, and visitors alike to experience the center’s amenities. We are hopeful that this decision will better the often complex and fraught town-gown relationship between Harvard and Cambridge, as it promotes equity and access to a unique space. The new Campus Center has succeeded in uniting both Harvard and its serving community. While much remains to be done to incorporate Cambridge life into Harvard, this new development has taken us miles ahead of where once we were.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.


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