Harvard U. Deans Crash Freshman Watch Parties

This story was written by Esther I. Yi, Harvard Crimson

In the Wigglesworth common room last night, a portion of patriotic streamer fell off the wall and hung limply as a group of freshmen watched the election returns on television. Textbooks and computers sat stalely on students laps, and a white cake iced with the American flag remained mostly uneaten.

Then Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds entered the room: Its too quiet in here. Whats wrong? What happened?

Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman 67 followed at her heels; last night, the pair traveled around the Harvard University, visiting viewing parties in Wigglesworth, Greenough, Canaday and Holworthy to watch the intensifying election returns with first-years.

I just wanted to come up and see what people were doing and thinking and how the vibe was, Hammonds said. Is it exciting, is it boring?

Boring? Dingman asked incredulously.

Hammonds posed questions to students as she furrowed her eyebrows at the screen and crossed her arms, deep in concentration. OK guys, is it going to be an early night or a late night? she asked.

Dingman craned his neck forward at the screen as he tried to attach a patriotic pin to his jacket lapel. For the rest of your life, youll remember where you were, what happened, Dingman said.

No matter what, this is just an historic election, Hammonds agreed. The youth have been energized.

When Hammonds and Dingman were asked who they voted for, both declined to answer. No way that is so personal, Hammonds said. Its like asking for my Social Security Number.

According to the Federal Election Commission, Hammonds donated $2,300 to the Obama campaign at the end of March.

Dingman said his bright red jacket has led to accusations of overt partisanship.

But I have on blue pants, he said, gesturing to the rest of his outfit. This is all-American.

Students said they were excited to share the night with the deans.

Dean Dingman is awesome, said Senan Ebrahim 12.

Evan R. Covington 12 said he thought Dingman and Hammonds were taking a very proactive role in engaging students in the political process. You never see this type of interest generally among young people, so its very exciting to see them supporting us, Covington said.

Covington, an Obama supporter, joined the festivities in Canaday, and said the election fever may interfere with his academic duties. I might just not go to sleep, Covington said. I have a Chinese oral midterm tomorrow."