One of the foremost perks of Dunster life is its prime location on the banks of the Charles River, halfway between the Yard and the Science and Engineering Complex. Nearby Bluebike and Harvard shuttle stops ensure that Dunsterites are always able to find opportunities to escape the Harvard bubble. But, if you end up staying on campus, close proximity to the other River Houses allows residents to pset at Leverett House’s Math Nights or party the night away in Mather House. As a member of the Moose community, your surroundings are sure to be envied by the rest of the Harvard community.
“I’ve seen other housing day videos where people will be attacking us and then those same people will have Dunster as their cover photo on LinkedIn,” Fez S. Zafar ’24 said. “So, I have to say, I think other people kind of wish that they were also here.”
While Dunster’s central location and beautiful scenery places its exteriors close to the heart of Harvard’s campus, the House itself has a beautiful heart in its vibrant, supportive student community. Leah G. Tadese ’25 likened Dunster’s community to root beer, “bubbly” and “just so sweet.”
Dunsterites also enjoy the special privilege of an extended dinner service, lasting until 8:30 p.m. to accommodate athletes with late practice times and to feed hungry students past the unfathomably early 7:30 p.m. closing time of other dhalls.
HoCo Chair Avi P. Gulati ’24 said that this contributes to Dunster’s tight-knit community, explaining, “It gives everyone an extra hour, you know, an hour of extra social time. And I think that that extra hour is visible in the fabric of our community. I think an extra hour does a lot to bring people together.”
Gulati also highlighted Dunster’s many House traditions as another key to the vibrant connections between Dunsterites. One of Dunster’s most interesting traditions is the Goat Roast, an event that (until a few years ago) featured the roasting of a goat in the House’s courtyard. Now, the event has been revamped to include a petting zoo, with the Resident Dean hosting a goat pardoning ceremony. Upon their entry to the community, residents also enjoy a sophomore cruise during orientation and can look forward to Dunster Cheers, or steins with karaoke, sushi, and other exciting themes. Life in Dunster also includes smaller, more frequently occurring traditions, including open houses hosted by House staff with food cooked by Dunster students and concerts featuring student performers.
New Dunster residents will also be able to engage with Dunster’s top-tier intramurals group. The House hovers at the top of the IMs leaderboard, neck and neck with Kirkland. The competition is important, but the opportunity to build community is stronger: “We never forfeit a game because if we know we’ll lose, at least we’re going to have a good time,” Gulati said. Even House staff contribute to the hype around IMs, with Allston Burr Resident Dean Michael Uy promising to get a tattoo if Dunster secures the Straus Cup. “We’ve been wanting to win,” Gulati added. “Not because we love victory but because of schadenfreude—we glee in our Resident Dean’s slight misery.”
Uy’s bet is indicative of the fun relationship between Dunster residents and House staff. “They’re wonderful to talk to in a house of 400 people. They remember your name, which is, you know, they have no reason to. I do feel like they’re a part of the house community,” Crimson Arts contributing writer Jonathan A. Schneiderman ’25 said.
Zafar expressed similar sentiments about his tutors, mentioning, “They don’t get in students’ way, but instead they try to facilitate more community and help us have fun. And they’re always really there for us whenever we have a problem or a question or something. They’ve 100% been really great tutors.”
While about a third of sophomores will end up in Dunster proper, the rest will find accommodations in 10 or 20 DeWolfe Street, known colloquially as DeWolfe. The rooms in DeWolfe are spacious and mostly quads, with two doubles attached to a large common room in a suite with an ensuite bathroom and a kitchen. Another perk to living in DeWolfe includes the SEC shuttle stopping right outside of 20 DeWolfe—super helpful for Engineering and Computer Science concentrators—and a (slightly) shorter commute to the Yard.
In Dunster proper, sophomores may find themselves in quads or hallway doubles, but can look forward to singles and larger suites as they move closer to graduation. Gulati, when asked about the party scene in Dunster, referenced these larger suites, saying, “What I’ll note is that we have many high-occupancy suites, six or seven, that provide lots of space, and students have the option of hosting peers in those spaces.”
Dunster residents also benefit from several impressive amenities contained within the House’s walls, including a gym, a squash court, and a Grille, boding well for incoming sophomores with midnight cravings for mozzarella sticks and milkshakes.
Dunster also includes several study spaces, with options attuned to any set of study needs. Among these is the Smart Classroom, with state-of-the-art technology suited to optimize your studying (or movie-watching) experience. Dunsterites also enjoy the House’s beautiful library, which Avi mentioned “feels like a sacred space” and is “a remarkable space historically, physically, spiritually.” A word to the wise, though: according to Gulati, “Armchairs in Dunster are basically a melatonin pill.” Dunsterites might also choose to study in the dhall and the basement, which double as social spaces, allowing students to mingle their academic pursuits with building valuable connections with other House residents.
Not sold on Dunster yet? Flyby chatted with the HoCo chair to learn more!
What’s your favorite memory involving House staff?
APG: My friend and I once wore Red Sox shirts in the Dunster lobby, and the building manager, George, just unleashed all of his friendly vitriol about us because he’s from New York City and he’s a Yankee. And he wouldn’t let go of it for, like, days. Like every time we’d see him, he would remind us that we were traitors to him, of course in the friendliest way possible. And that was just sort of sweet. It was friendly. It was sportsmanship. Coated in friendly animosity.
Which Hogwarts house would Dunster be in?
APG: Gryffindor. 100 percent. There's just no question. Our colors are red and gold. If you stand in our courtyard and look up at the white pediment and the crimson and gold clock tower, you feel like you’re in a “Harry Potter” movie.
What’s the weirdest aspect of life in Dunster?
APG: You can see everything that happens in the courtyard from the windows. I’ll just say that you can see a lot that happens through the windows from the courtyard.
What Harvard student archetype is Dunster?
APG: Dunster would be the hot Social Studies kid that built his own skateboard to go and can go super fast on it between the SEC and Northwest Labs.
If you could change one thing about your House, what would it be and why?
APG: I wish everyone in Dunster was actually housed in Dunster because there are times when I feel bad as a House leader that so many of our students are in DeWolfe, and it’s sometimes difficult to integrate them in house communities compared to integrating students that actually live inside the space.
What’s one thing that you want freshmen to know about your House?
APG: We are the Grays of the River.
And what’s one piece of advice you have for freshmen as they look towards Housing Day?
APG: If you hear a chant about Cabot coming to your door, it might not actually be Cabot.