Virtual Housing Day
BY ANNIE COLLOREDO-MANSFELD
Of the many events that have been canceled by the outbreak of COVID-19, Housing Day was one of the more depressing cancellations, especially for first-years. Many students hear of the exciting, much anticipated day before they even arrive on campus. Based on what I heard from older students, I got the sense that Housing Day is one of the few moments that one can feel a true sense of school pride and unity, and celebrate a tradition that is unique to Harvard.
Housing Day was supposed to take place on Thursday, March 12. This turned out to be the very week in which Harvard canceled all classes and instructed students to go home. Thus, all excitement about prospective houses was forgotten as students struggled to pack their bags, book flights, and say goodbye to their friends, not knowing when they would see next them again.
The virtual Housing Day took place this past Friday, April 10, around 12:00 p.m. EDT. At 9:00 a.m., first-year students received an email with a Zoom link to their respective House. Twelve different links were sent out to the entire class of 2023, and these links were numbered 1-12. So, naturally, a GoogleDoc was posted to the Facebook group chat, and students began to fill in the members of their blocking groups under their assigned number, in an attempt to figure out which students were in their House. At 12:00 p.m., the Zoom conferences finally permitted students into the rooms. This is where it gets confusing.
I was on FaceTime with my three other blockmates, and we all checked the Zoom together at noon. When I opened the conference on my phone, I could only see bewildered faces and lots of garbled audio. I was unable to decipher a single word. I had no idea what House I was in. All of my friends were still on FaceTime, and I could hear them frantically screaming as well. After a minute or two, one of my blockmates started screaming “DUNSTER DUNSTER” and I tried to figure out where she found that out. There was no main leader in the Zoom conference; it was just total chaos. I eventually opened the chat conference, where I saw lots of messages welcoming people to Dunster, punctuated by many moose emojis.
The virtual event was total chaos, but still fun, mainly because I was so relieved to have avoided being quadded. It was nice to feel connected to Harvard, and to finally gain some certainty. Being assigned a House made me feel more secure and excited about next year. Although I am sad to have missed the true experience of the historical Harvard Housing Day, it was nice to feel the Harvard connection and be able to look forward to a new home during this time of uncertainty and isolation.
Annie Colloredo-Mansfeld ’23 (firstname.lastname@example.org) hopes she never has to Zoom again.