BY KEVIN LOVECCHIO
Six years ago, HL Central was nothing more than a website with information about where Harvard Law students could gather for drinks each week. Today, the organization has expanded into a multi-faceted student-run business that has become a cornerstone of the HLS experience. Over the past few years, HL Central has cultivated a number of traditions that brighten the student experience in law school. These social and cultural activities and services have become institutions at HLS that students have come both to expect and enjoy.
HL Central’s hugely successful Admit and Welcome Parties at the Kong and Field Day on Holmes Field have become an integral part of enticing and welcoming new students from the moment that they first set foot on campus. Having forged a strong relationship with the law school administration, these events have become a part of the calendar of events for admitted students and for orientation. These activities are followed by many other HL Central activities that lighten the atmosphere and prepare students for the busy semesters ahead.
Perhaps the most recognizable of all of HL Central’s many events are its weekly “Bar Reviews.” On any given Thursday night, HLS students know that there is a place they can go to relax and share a drink among friends. Free drink tickets and waived cover charges are a few of the perks that students have come to expect and enjoy from HL Central. This year has also seen the unveiling of monthly “Respect Your Elders” Bar Reviews, which provide additional freebies to 2Ls and 3Ls as an added incentive to take a night away from the rigors of law school.
The HL Central “Prom” is another institution that has been wildly successful. At this event, students both mock and re-live high school by dressing up in all imaginable types of costumes and electing a prom court. This event has become the biggest party on campus, with over 1000 students in attendance this year. While many HLS students immediately associate HL Central with its Bar Reviews and parties, others have been extremely excited about the expansion of HL Central’s arts and cultural offerings. Low-cost tickets to Boston area arts and cultural events, including Broadway shows, movie showings, concerts and similar experiences, provide students with great opportunities to experience Boston and do something different.
The HL Central website (hlcentral.com) has become an indispensable resource for students. The website, which many students set as their homepage, consolidates all things HLS-related and that students might otherwise need into one readily accessible interface. Students also rely heavily on the website’s outline bank, book and apartment exchange, social calendar and much more.
Another important tradition is what HL Central calls “Random Acts of Kindness” – the little things that make stressful days just a little happier. Students have come to rely on free donuts for 1L sections, candy in Hark mailboxes before exams and OCI, pizza study breaks, a pre-MPRE review bagel brunch, and section t-shirts.
HL Central’s Charity Bash is one event that has experienced unprecedented growth. Each year, HL Central raises money and awareness for different causes by throwing a party for all local grad schools. This year, responding to the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina, HL Central joined forces with Harvard University and the posh Gypsy Bar in downtown Boston to sponsor this enormously successful event. HLS agreed to match its students’ donations to the Charity Bash, and Gypsy Bar contributed significant donations without which the event never could have happened. With more than 800 students participating – half of whom were from other Boston schools, the event was the largest in HL Central’s six-year history, and it raised more than $12,500 for Hurricane Relief.
HL Central also sponsors the biggest community service day at HLS. Known as Springfest, students are divided into small teams that head out into the greater Boston area to tackle various volunteer projects for the day. For this year’s Springfest, which will be held on April 29th, HL Central is encouraging each of the 1L Section Leaders to organize section volunteering projects. Students who volunteer for Springfest return to campus for a special treat, as HL Central ends the day by sponsoring a free outdoor barbecue that is open to the entire campus.
Finally, HL Central is currently teaming up with the Recording Artists Project (RAP) this year to start a new annual institution at HLS-a huge spring concert with a popular, nationally-recognized band. The concert, which will provide RAP’s pro bono clients the opportunity to perform as opening acts, will be held on Sunday, April 23, 2006, between noon and 5pm. HL Central hopes that the Spring Concert will offer the entire HLS community a chance to relax and celebrate the end of the year before settling in for final exams.
These are just a few of the many ways that HL Central works to foster community at HLS. All of these various functions have seen HL Central develop into a dominant social organization at HLS, improving the quality of student life and filling a role that was noticeably lacking even a few years ago on the law school campus. As the organization continues to grow, HLS students can look forward to new events and activities each year. It is HL Central’s hope that, as new groups of students become involved with the organization, they will build on the current institutions and develop others that are even bigger and more successful.