Crime like a little old lady pickpocket, is not a menace to Harvard.
In fact, during the more than 322 years of the College's existence there has not been one murder of an undergraduate by another. The Faculty's record, of course, is not quite as sterling, it being blemished in 1849 by the infamous Webster-Parkman case.
The undergraduates' perfect mark was threatened eight years ago when the University narrowly missed having a murderer on its hands. A theological student had been in contact with University Health Services psychiatrists, who had him labeled as a paranoid. He responded admirably to the Harvard doctors, but soon left his theological studies and journeyed down to Yale. His relationship with the New Haven medics seemed to lack something, for a little over six months after leaving Cambridge he shot and killed a psychiatrist and his wife.
Suicide: Most Frequent Crime
Mental patients notwithstanding, it is agreed--from University Police Captain Matthew J. Toohy to House janitors--that "Harvard is a very peaceful place, the students are all very loyal to each other." The average student's worst enemy seems to be himself. Suicide is the most frequent major crime.
The College, even in 1717, President Leverett's diary shows, was having plenty of trouble with "profane swearing," "riotous Actions," and "bringing Cards into the College." An undergraduate wrote that students were frequently slipping off into Boston for "horseraces, pirate hangings, and other diversions."
In order to restrain these "rakes and blades" the first college clubs were founded. Formed in 1728, the Philomusarian Club declared in its preamble that "whereas Conversation, which is the Basis of Friendship The fundamental Principle of Society ... Is now at A Very Low Ebb ... Vice and Folly Are In Their Zenith.... And whereas Vice is Now become Alamode and Rant Riot and Excess is Accounted The Height of Good Breeding and Learning--In Order Therefore to Stem That Monstrous Tide of Impiety and Ignorance," the Philomusarian Club is formed. Seven of the ten organizers became ministers.
"The Tell Tale"
What might have been the first "expose" sheet and was definitely the first college periodical, "The Telltale," predated the Philomusarian by seven years. The eleventh issue declares that the writer has "found out several Clubs in College," including "The Mock Club" founded in 1769 composed of "Persons Rawbon'd humpback'd and Monophthalmic." The publication was short-lived, however, and the editors organized themselves into the Spy Club, whose members discussed such questions as "Whether there be any Standard of Truth," and "Whether it be Fornication to lye with ones Sweetheart before marriage."
Most of the misdemeanors of the early 1700's were punishable by fines, or mulcts, such as: Tardiness to prayers or lecture ....
Entering meetinghouse before the bell (and so probably starting a rough-house) .... 2 shillings
Fighting, lying, drunkenness, frequenting forbidden houses in Cambridge, going on roof of Old Harvard, or cutting lead from same .... 5 shillings
Profane cursing or swearing, playing cards or dice, walking or other diversion of the Sabbath .... 10 shillings
Blasphemy, fornication, robbery, forgery, or any other very atrocious crime .... expulsion