Harvard Magazine reports, "Last Thursday, University President Lawrence Bacow welcomed his first group of Harvard undergraduates, about 100 participants in the new First-Year Retreat and Experience (FYRE), a four-day pre-orientation program for first-generation, low-income, and other students not traditionally represented at Harvard. Harvard is a place of “insurmountable opportunity,” he told them. “If you don’t know where to go, just ask. Everybody is here to help you.” The first-years sat anxiously around tables in the Loker Reading Room of Widener Library with their FYRE “families” and upperclassman student leaders, each with a neatly wrapped book chosen by a Harvard professor, staff member, or graduate.
The reception’s location was meant to familiarize the first-years with Harvard’s library resources, and with its often daunting, imposing spaces. Andrew Pérez ’20, a first-generation student and a co-chair of FYRE, said it was his first time ever being in Loker. “I’ve always felt intimidated to be here,” he admitted. “I felt like I had to know what I was studying. I had to have an action plan. Everyone seemed so serious and focused. The one thing we want you to take from this space is that it’s your space.” "