Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

What is HoCo? And what is special about Quincy?

“HoCo” is a term that is thrown around pretty frequently at Harvard and honestly, it sounds ridiculous. There is even a “HoCoCo” and a “HoCoCoCo” if you can believe that. “HoCo” is short for House Committee and each “house” or dorm has its own HoCo. Fundamentally these groups are responsible for building community among members of the house and just making it a fun and inclusive environment for the residents. Some of the things that we do as a HoCo to achieve these goals is host events that are open to everyone in Quincy. We have bi-weekly gatherings that we call “festas” that are essentially PG-13 rated parties. We also throw a formal each semester that is open to the entire house. House Committees are also responsible for helping run and staff Harvard-wide events like Harvard Yale Tailgate and the party before Yardfest. So a HoCo members job really extends beyond just their house in that way. We are responsible for helping build community throughout the entire university through the events that we have. Personally, I think that another important part of being a member of HoCo is to be an approachable and friendly person. The way I see it, if members of the House Committee are not making an effort to talk to different people in the house, then no one is. Ultimately, I believe that HoCos should I am hoping that if the eight of us on HoCo are all friendly then that will translate to the rest of the house and maybe even beyond that.

           This service role is within the dorm or “house” that I live in on campus. Quincy has an unofficial reputation on campus as one of the more “chill” or laid back dorms with moderate- but improving- house spirit. It was also named after Josiah Quincy the third (1772-1864) who was the president of Harvard from 1829 to 1845.  A few interesting facts about Quincy are that its mascot is a penguin, it is the second largest house on campus with 470 people (behind Leverett), and it is one of most recently build dorms at Harvard. Quincy House first opened in September 1959, making it one of the most recent houses on Harvard’s campus. Quincy is the first house to be built after the seven original river houses that were done in the early 1930s.

One critique that Quincy often gets is that it is “ugly” compared to the other more traditional houses like Eliot and Kirkland. This is because the main building of Quincy, or New Quincy as it is called, was designed by a famous Boston firm that wanted the dorm to have modern architecture. New Quincy has all of the amenities including the dining hall, the library, a pottery studio, the grille (late night junk food destination, the gym, and the faculty dean’s residence. It is also traditionally home to the Juniors and Seniors in Quincy because every room in New Quincy is a single. Stone Hall also part of Quincy and has equally nice- if not better housing. Stone Hall is a brick building across from New Quincy and is usually where the Sophomores get placed. It is not a bad deal, though. Stone Hall is completely renovated and looks and feels like a hotel inside, but has the old charm of Harvard on the outside.

What is more important than the architecture of the house, though, is the people who are in the house. The Faculty Deans of Quincy are Lee and Deb Gehrke. Judith Flynn is the assistant dean and Krystle Petrie is the House Administrator. Other important Quincy administrators are Susan Hamel who serves as the academic coordinator and Dick Nerden who is the building manager. Quincy also has a wonderful maintenance and dining hall staff and one of the best security guards on campus- Paul Barksdale. Quincy also has a number of very supportive tutors and four “house elves” who help Deb and Lee run events. Quincy also has its share of adorable pets- including a dog-like cat named Striker and an adorably fluffy dog named (and resembles a) Snowball.

Like any house, Quincy really has its own charm to it. I even admit that I was not thrilled when I first got put into Quincy- the night before the housing lottery I actually ranked Quincy number five out of twelve- so I was not mad or happy when I got Quincy. I did not realize until my sophomore year how lucky I was to be randomly sorted in this community.


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