Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

Dunster Grille - Administrative Priorities

Through my research last semester, I was able to interview four student managers and three administrators, including the central administrator responsible for overseeing the grilles. During these interviews I identified five major motivations that drove the creation of the grilles in the first place. These motivations are crucial for understanding administrative priorities, as they help reveal the values that drive the continued support for student food establishments.

Among the five shown above, the most important and most widely cited motivation for having the grilles is the desire to build community within and among the undergraduate Houses. Nearly all other motivations are implicated in this broader goal, though student demand also stems from the fact that the dining halls and Harvard Square restaurants provide insufficient services for late night dining. In the long term, grilles serve as an important part of the living learning community structure of the undergraduate Houses at Harvard. In performing this function, the point of these grilles is not to make money, but rather to provide a space for fostering community to improve social capital and student outcomes in the long term.

As such, student grilles are not set up to make profit. However, they are meant to be mostly self-sufficient. Rather than pouring money into the grilles as a program like HoCos, grilles are able to make money and support themselves, allowing Houses to free up money to pursue other programs. If the grilles were to lose money, the Houses would cover the cost, though this is — and should continue to be — rare.

This is a crucial point: the grilles are meant to be student run and student driven, costing the Houses nothing other than slightly increased utility bills and a small area of space. If the grilles were not fulfilling their purpose as community builders or were costing the House a significant amount of money, their existence would be in jeopardy, but thus far the grilles have been successful.

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