Co-Ed Naked Harvard?
A pack of Harvard first-years staggers through the Yard late one Friday night--not a wholly uncommon sight to Yard denizens. One calls out, his voice squeaky with urgency, "I gotta goooo..." His compatriots laugh and reply thickly, "Just head over to John Harvard!" The desperate first-year eventually gives into the peer pressure....
Why does urinating on the country's second-most photographed statue seem like such a bright idea? As any one of these fine Harvard men might say, it isn't the beer talking--it's tradition. One expects that Harvard College, a world-wide symbol of higher learning might have its share of traditions heaped with pomp and circumstance, like the regalia of Commencement or the Harvard-Yale football game. But what about unofficial traditions, equally important to every undergrad?
Students once had to complete three unofficial rituals during their undergraduate career, the first and foremost being the "spraying" of old John Harvard. The second and most risque is to have sex in the stacks of Widener Library. The third and most aerodynamically challenging was for first-years to flip a pat of butter onto the ceiling of the Freshman Union. But with the relocation of first-year dining to Annenberg Hall--whose vaulted ceiling has made the feat almost impossible--a perfectly good threesome has been ruined. Obviously, Harvard students need something else to test just what they're made of.
It seems, by all accounts, that students are quite eager to get naked. As Nat W. Bullard '00 puts it, "Running Primal Scream fills the role [of a third tradition] for some people." Roughly 50 percent of those asked also offered Primal Scream as a third ritual. "Everybody needs to streak," affirms Marc Stad '01.
But to some, the thought of Primal Scream assuming the position is as bland as boiled millet grain. Some creative students thought up their own traditions and expanded upon others. Unsatisfied with the anonymity of streaking at night, Franklin W. Huang '99 proposes that students "streak through Cabot library," where the bravest must "stop at every cubicle." Matthew S. Trent '00 suggests prolonging one's exposure to the unflattering glare of fluorescent lights by "studying naked in Lamont."
A first-year wishing only to be known as "Big Poppa" grossly twists the theme of nudity. He proposes, "you and a member of the opposite sex go in [to Annenberg] and get several bowls full of yogurt or chocolate sauce, take all the clothes off the member of the opposite sex and then give the person a bath of chocolate or yogurt. Then hand-cuff yourself and the other person to either statue at the end of Annenberg and proceed to make wild monkey love."
Public consumption of alcohol--while fully clothed--came in a distant second among those polled for a new Harvard tradition. Kate S. Jackson '01 called for students to "drink a can of beer in Annenberg." One senior, remaining anonymous to avoid possible self-incrimination later this semester, says, "Everyone should take a final drunk."
The third most often suggested replacement tradition is exposure to a highly toxic substance--namely the Charles River. According to Gregory L. Hart '01, "jumping in the Charles" should do the job. "I thought that was one already," he confesses.
Yet the user-friendly tradition with the most potential to catch on had nothing to do with nudity, beer or the Charles. Justin Pasquariello '01 suggests that first-years "catapult tofu with a spoon from either balcony of Annenberg onto someone below. But, it doesn't count unless you hit someone."