Every first-year stepping into Harvard Yard for the first time has some doubts. Am I the only one here who didn't get 1600 on the SAT? Will all my roommates sit around having conversations in Latin? In the famous words of one commonly seen flier, "Am I the mistake?"
But no nervous student has ever found a way to turn their insecurity into a money-raising scheme--until now. This year, five first-years have started "Stupid People at Harvard" (SPAH), a not yet official organization for students who feel a bit out of place among the horde of MENSA members.
SPAH (pronounced "spa") is not yet an official club, but it has already begun to make its mark on the student body: More than 60 SPAH t-shirts, almost the entire initial printing, have been sold since Saturday, and more are on the way.
The $9 shirt, designed by SPAH founders Won H. Park '97, Janice M. Tsai '97, Michael M. Takamura '97, Takara L. Stanley '97, and Kanakalakshmi Pattabiraman '97, lists the "10 Requirements for Membership" in SPAH.
Included in the list are such lapses of intelligence as "10. Seriously considered going to Yale" and "6. Affiliated with Republican Party." Jason Costa '96 designed the club seal for the front of the t-shirt, which proclaims "Stupidas" as the club's motto.
Of course, this group didn't come up with this idea on their own. MIT did it first.
SPAH was born during the week before Freshman Week, when the founders were all living in Quincy House, participating in either the First-Year Urban Program or Radcliffe Science Alliance.
The five found themselves in the lobby of Quincy House late one night, playing the card game euchre and discussing typical frosh worries.
"All the people here are smart, and we're just regular people," Takamura remembers saying. Jokingly, they began to debate which of them was the stupidest.
One of them had seen a SPAMIT--"Stupid People at M.I.T."--shirt, and the group decided to make a Harvard version of the shirt for people who felt as they did. They agreed that profits from the t-shirt sales would go to charity. Park said part of the money is going to Fair Foods, a food bank where he worked during the First-Year Urban Program.
Considering the success of the shirts so far, Fair Foods could receive some serious money. "People just like the shirt a lot betterthan the lame Harvard ones," Takamura says.
Three dollars from each shirt go to charity.The 72 original shirts are almost gone, and theclub expects a second shipment to sell out asquickly as the first.
So far the group consists of just the fiveoriginal members, but more people have expressedinterest in joining.
"Soon we will discuss trying to be an officialclub," Park said. This would require them to drawup a budget and find faculty advisors.
What will SPAH do for an encore? There may be anew t-shirt in the works, and the members arethinking of sponsoring "good" movies at theScience Center. What's wrong with the movies thatare being shown now?
"Too artsy," Park explains