Harvard College freshmen will not have to wait much longer — the Class of 2023 will find out their upperclassman house assignments on April 10, the Dean of Students Office announced Thursday.
Following most students’ departure from campus amid coronavirus concerns, the office announced the virtual iteration of Housing Day, the annual tradition in which freshmen are assigned to one of 12 houses, in a Thursday email.
“With a rush to de-densify campus, we weren’t able to complete the housing lottery,” the email read. “One of the biggest questions we didn't answer for you is your House assignment. We're working on it now!”
The news of a rescheduled Housing Day comes more than three weeks after the College elected to postpone the festivities indefinitely in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The email encouraged freshmen to prepare for Housing Day by posting blocking group introduction videos to TikTok and Instagram with the hashtag #HousingDay2020.
“Introduce yourselves, learn a dance, or sing a song — be creative and show us why your blocking group is one of the best!” the email read.
Associate Dean of Students Lauren E. Brandt ’01 said in a Thursday interview that rescheduling the annual tradition was a pressing concern for many, and that she was thankful for the cooperation from the Houses.
“I'm really grateful to the housing office, all of the House Committees, and the faculty deans that really pulled together and managed to create something that we hope will be very special for first-year students,” she said.
While freshman blocking groups focus on their TikTok and Instagram debuts, House Committee chairs are planning “Zoom storming” — virtual dorm storming — to replace the tradition of upperclassmen going from dorm to dorm in Harvard Yard to surprise freshmen with their assignments.
Andrea J. Zhang ’22 — one of the Kirkland House Committee co-chairs — wrote in an email that she and other Kirkland residents were prepared to deliver a “Zoom storm” overflowing with House pride.
“Of course, it will be very different from live dorm-storming, but students are still excited to interact with the freshmen and welcome them to the house!” Zhang wrote. “We’re planning to get decked out in Kirkland gear, chant our ode, and invite them to our virtual stein.”
A virtual Housing Day is one of the many ways student life has adapted to remote programming. Houses have largely turned to Zoom activities to replace regular events, including virtual “dining halls” and thesis presentations.
Eliot House Committee chairs Zachary R. Fraley ’21 and Jason S. Lee ’21 said the virtual Housing Day — while not a complete substitute for the usual event — will still allow freshmen to become acquainted with their new homes. They also said Eliot will introduce new members to current residents through other virtual events, such as hosting House-wide “stein” socials and pairing freshman blocking groups with upperclassmen.
“It's not just a House tradition. It's a College tradition,” Fraley said. “We're all under changing circumstances, every day, every hour even, and just to have some sort of continuity, I personally find it really comforting.”
He added that the event gives both freshmen and upperclassmen a day to look forward to.
“It gives everyone something else to plan for, to work forward to, and just get excited for,” Fraley said. “It's not going to be the same, we're not gonna be up at 7 a.m. in the freezing cold, storming and running around on muddy ground, but it could still be a fun experience. It could still be a tradition, and it could still be a memory, just with some alterations this year.”
—Staff writer Sydnie M. Cobb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @cobbsydnie.
—Staff writer Declan J. Knieriem can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DeclanKnieriem.