For most of the 1,400 freshmen who joined President Lawrence H. Summers at the first-ever Reading Period Study Break in Annenberg Hall Monday night (Jan. 6), it was the food – sumptuous displays of decadent desserts and a veritable mountain of nachos – that lured them away from their books and papers.
“I was hungry,” said Alexander Schwab ’06 of his motivation to temporarily abandon his work and turn out for the bash hosted by Summers.
“It’s a great culinary spread,” said Erica Scott Puopolo ’06. “I just finished an essay so I was ready for a break.”
As Annenberg filled and the energy level escalated, it became clear that Puopolo wasn’t the only student eager to blow off some steam.
The hip-hop classic “Rapper’s Delight” made dance-floor pioneers of Margaret Maloney ’06 and Margaret Barusch ’06, who mouthed the words written years before they were born. They weren’t alone for long, as the floor soon filled with students who reveled to the tunes spun by DJ BC (Freshman Dean’s Office administrator Bob Cronin by day).
But no one had a fuller dance card than Summers, who was greeted by a crush of first-years eager to have him sign their dollar bills and tell him about their classes and their holiday breaks.
“It’s interesting that he’s making an effort to get to know us,” said Carolyn Inoa ’06, who spoke with the president about her native Dominican Republic.
“I think he’s gone out of his way to be visible with us,” said an appreciative Aramis Pérez ’06, acknowledging that a freshman dining hall was unfamiliar turf for most college presidents.
Summers kept his remarks brief, thanking Dean of Freshmen Elizabeth Nathans, the Memorial Hall staff, and – to enthusiastic applause – Harvard Dining Services.
“I hope you’re all rested and ready for a happy new year. Have fun!” he said.
Then, as the students chanted and cheered, Summers gave the freshmen what they wanted even more than food: He danced with them.