"Hey, little bro! Just checking in from the office to see how you're handling first-year life at Harvard. Not all of us were fortunate enough to go there, you know."
"Well, things are good here, I guess. Classes are kind of tough, dining hall could go a little easier on the starch products, and some perfectly normal fat lady on Mass. Ave keeps asking me for money day after day, but other than that, everything's pretty cool... well, actually, I guess I am sort of a little let down by a few things."
"Oh yeah? Like what, exactly?"
"I don't know. I sometimes get the impression that the administration around here, the highers-up, takes us for a bunch of chumps."
"I don't get it. The students and the administration don't see eye to eye? What's an example?"
"Okay, take the College's alcohol policy. It's really for the birds. I mean, when I went to register, I got handed this 30-page packet of legal gibberish and administrative threats. They probably spent more time putting it together than all the first-years combined spent on glancing at it before throwing it in the trash. "
"Well, you're not exactly 21 yet, you know. What does it matter to you?"
"First of all, please. Like that matters. Second of all, I guess it's more just the way they go about trying to attain this impossible ideal, with such paternalistic, overbearing measures. Do you know I have to fill out a contract to throw a bash? Talk about sucking away spontaneous fun. The administration seems so content to treat us like little kids, rather than the mature individuals we are. I mean, come on, we all got into Harvard, didn't we? That's got to count for something!"
"I suppose you're right."
"And it carries over into other matters as well. The folks in the administration, they never listen to our side of things. We tell them the advising system is a joke, they ignore us. We tell them randomization has ruined all but the most contrived House spirit, they could care less. They want to make all the decisions for us. I don't understand it. They're not our parents!"
"Yeah, I see where you're coming from. Well, let's move on. Where are you living again? Matthews or something?"
"Yeah, everything's back to normal now. Oh wait, I didn't tell you, did I? A bunch of suites got burglarized last week. A regular crime spree! We were always in The Crimson. One of my friends even got quoted."
"That the administration wasn't doing enough to keep its students safe. She's right, you know."
"Wait a second, hold on. I thought you just told me you didn't want the administration hovering over you all the time. Isn't that right?"
"In a sense, yeah, but not for things like this. I mean, thieves were coming in every night!"
"How exactly were they getting in, especially after you knew you were targets?"
"Well, people just sort of, uh, keep their doors unlocked..."
"So let me get this straight. You want the College to think you're mature, responsible individuals who don't need to be supervised by the administration, but then you go and leave your doors unlocked, get robbed, and then expect the school to do something about it. Do I have that right?"
"Yeah, um, I guess."
"Well then no wonder they never take students' suggestions seriously. You don't sound like you have any credibility whatsoever. In fact, you pretty much look like idiots. Tell me this, how do students usually try to get their point across?"
"Well, I guess there's protests--"
"Swell. Folks are always more open to suggestions when they're yelled at."
"--but there hasn't really been anything so big since the Anti-Sweatshop/Rape Awareness protest last year."
"Anti-sweatshop and Rape Awareness? What do they have to do with each other? See, when you pull stuff like that, real head-scratchers, it gives the appearance of shouting just for the sake of shouting. You guys don't even know how to protest well."
"Hey, not so fast. There was a demonstration just a couple days ago against homophobic graffiti that was actually pretty clever. They shouted, 'Hey hey, ho ho, homophobia has got to go.'"
"About as clever as it is original, and probably just as effective. Unless, of course, their desired goal was to lapse into caricature. In which case I would deem the protest a rousing success."
"Yeah, I guess it was a little ridiculous."
"In fact, while all of these rallies you've listed are for fine and worthy causes, the methods used just don't seem to be the most effective in spreading the true message. Which all ties back to your complaints about the administration. If you want to be treated like children--whining, screaming little brats--go ahead and continue to act like children. If you want to be treated like adults, then start behaving like it. Because otherwise, it's an exercise in futility--like setting up the deck chairs on the Titanic."
"Yeah, I suppose you're right."
"You bet I am. That's what big brothers are for."
George W. Hicks '99-'00 is an economics concentrator in Winthrop House. His column appears on alternate Fridays.