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.”

That’s when Eliot House students, led by their elephant mascot, created a streak of blue across the Yard, while undergraduates from Mather House made a sea of red as they entered through the gates.

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.”


1 Housing Day intensity begins at Adams House with this spirited charge on the Yard. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
2 Adams House residents rally in the courtyard before processing into Harvard Yard. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
3 Not even snow can deter these Lowell House students chanting outside Hollis Hall. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
4 Lowell House students sort through the envelopes that inform freshmen of their assigned House. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
5 The penguins of Quincy House announce to freshmen inside Hollis where they’ll live for the next three years. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
6 Quincy House residents dash through the Square en route to the Yard. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
7 Mather residents Carrie Tian (left) and Ruth Fong celebrate. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
8 Eliot House residents race across the Yard to the John Harvard statue. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
9 Kirkland House students are the first to arrive in the Yard, snagging the coveted celebration spot in front of the John Harvard statue. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
10 Students from Cabot House hoist into the air House Co-Master Rakesh Khurana, who is also the incoming dean of Harvard College. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
11 The view from inside University Hall shows a raucous display on Housing Day. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
12 Pamela Chen and Sam Wattrus of Adams House try to stay warm in a frosted Harvard Yard. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
13 After delivering House assignments to freshmen, Leverett residents share a romantic moment. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
14 Yacine Fares ’15 (left) of Adams House isn’t afraid to talk to a rival penguin from Quincy, Saheela Ibraheem ’15. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
15 May Barakat ’16 (left) whoops it up with her Quincy housemates inside Annenberg Hall. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
16 Miguel Perez-Luna ’15 (left) and Erick Juarez ’15 (right) join Leverett housemates as they make some noise inside Annenberg. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
17 New PhoHo resident Melinda Song ’17 gets a hug from a PhoHo bear as Gracie Hurley ’14 (left) looks on. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer