It’s not every day that you see a young man wearing nothing but a green Speedo in the early morning hours during a driving snowstorm with temperatures in the teens.
Then again, there is no other day at Harvard quite like Housing Day.
That is when freshmen, who spend their first year living in and around the Yard, are sorted into one of Harvard’s 12 upperclass Houses. Freshmen are informed of their House assignment by the residents of their new Houses, who storm their dorm rooms with the good news.
This morning’s cold and snow could not diminish the spirits of hundreds of undergraduates as they raced into the Yard for one of Harvard’s unique and joyous traditions. Sub-freezing temperatures did not deter a few Currier House students from donning their traditional Speedos, or the Adams House undergrads’ usual garb of sport jackets and boxer shorts.
Kirkland House, which had begun patrolling the Yard at 3 a.m., secured the coveted spot surrounding the John Harvard statute in front of University Hall.
“Kirkland House has the most House spirit, so we wanted to be first. You have to be first and get the statue,” said Kirkland’s Raja Ghawi ’15. “I mean, everyone knows that Kirkland House is the best, and that’s clear today.”
Ghawi’s comment drew jeers from Shunella Lumas ’15 and Juliet Musabeyezu ’15, who were both wearing antlers in honor of Dunster House’s moose mascot.
“Actually, I think the cold and the snow has brought us closer together as a people. And actually, I think the snow is actually causing people to rally harder,” said Musabeyezu. “But I am wondering where the other Houses are right now.”
Horns sounded, gongs clanged, and upperclassmen chanted as freshmen watched from their dorm windows. Several students from various Houses paused to take picture with interim College Dean Donald Pfister.
Cabot House Co-Master Rakesh Khurana, who is the incoming dean of the College, was hoisted into the air by some Cabot students.
“Housing Day is one of those pure joy days,” Khurana said. “And I think the students deserve a couple of crazy days during the year.”
As the cheering and dancing hit a fever pitch outside, inside University Hall representatives from each House received letters to deliver to freshmen informing them of their House assignments. With their letters in hand, students from each House stormed into the dorms, letting the Class of 2017 know where they will be living the next three years.
After making their deliveries, representatives from the Houses congregated at Annenberg Hall to greet their new residents as freshmen gathered for lunch. Upperclassmen hugged and high-fived the freshmen as they made their way in to pick up T-shirts, headbands, and bags emblazoned with the colors and shields of their new Houses.
“This is all really just amazing,” said Edem Fagbolagun, ’17. “I got Leverett House, and I am ecstatic.”
Asked about the festivities in the Yard earlier in the day, Fagbolagun said with a smile, “Yeah, it all started really early.”