War, What Is It Good For?

Kirkland ignores Mather’s attempts at battle

Though it’s been more than a week since its declaration of war, Mather House’s saber rattling has thus far failed to draw up-river rival Kirkland House into open battle.

The gauntlet was thrown down during Primal Scream, as four Matherites stood outside Matthews Hall wearing only jackets with their House’s banner hanging from the dorm and the Soviet national anthem playing in the background.

A hard copy of the declaration was also door-dropped in Kirkland and Mather, containing a list of demands issued by Mather’s newly formed “Department of War.”

Included in the ultimatum were calls for Kirkland’s “immediate and total withdrawal” from the DeWolfe apartments, their inclusion of Mather residents in Kirkland’s annual Incest Fest and the return of Mather’s former dining hall manager—a “Hero of the Revolution”—who now works in Kirkland.

Predicting a quick victory, Mather also required that Kirkland hang a portrait of a Mather resident in its Junior Common Room—although they have yet to name the Matherite whose picture will serve as a “permanent reminder of the folly of [Kirkland’s] war mongering.”

“We think a hero will present himself in the course of the action,” Mather Co-Czar (House Committee Co-chair) Zachary A. Corker ’04 said.

At the top of Mather’s ultimatum, though, is the return of the Adams House gong, which “intelligence operatives” from the “glorious tower” say was stolen by Kirkland.

Like England protecting neutral Belgium, Mather leaders decried the “brutal insensitivity” of the alleged theft.

“Is it not just like [Kirkland] to send shock troops into defenseless Adams in a cowardly lightning war?” read the declaration.

It is this act of “aggression” by the “Kirkland brute” that was the root cause of war, according to Darren S. Morris ’05, the secretary of Mather’s House Committee (HoCo).

“Mather declared war because they stole the gong,” Morris said. “It is in Kirkland’s character to do something like this.”

The Mather high command further claims that Kirkland residents sent the gong to the Russian monastery currently seeking the return of the Lowell House bells to Moscow.

Kirkland, however, has thus far been unimpressed by Mather’s bellicose rumblings.

“It’s been a non-issue in Kirkland,” Chair of the Kirkland HoCo Adam Kalamchi ’04 said. “It’s been amusing, but 99 percent of the thinking about this rivalry has been done by Mather.”

According to Mather’s policy makers, however, the rivalry goes much deeper than their House’s recent proclamation—with bad blood running between the two river dorms for some time.

“Kirkland has talked trash about Mather for a while,” said Hunter A. Maats ’04, Mather’s secretary of war. Maats referred to an e-mail that Daniel E. Kafie ’05 and his blockmates sent to the Mather-open list before transferring into Kirkland from Mather last May.

“NEVER will we have to be surrounded by nasty concrete and holes in our walls,” Kafie wrote in the e-mail. “NEVER will we get disgusting, cold food at the dining hall, NEVER will we have to walk through ‘McDonalds’ to get to our room, NEVER will [we] have alcohol-less formals under a tent, and the list NEVER ends....”

Kafie, also a Crimson editor, said the e-mail was meant as a joke, but Corker said that when Kafie and his blockmates left Mather, “they insulted our House and our residents.”

“[Kafie] is a defector and one of the great evils in this conflict,” Corker added.

In addition to Kafie’s alleged treachery, Corker and his Mather cohorts claim that Kirkland’s space in DeWolfe threatens their sovereign territory.

“Their being in DeWolfe is an encroachment in our sphere of influence,” Corker said. “They have their side of the river and we have ours.”

But Kalamchi of Kirkland House said he is not convinced of the sincerity of the Mather leadership’s arguments.

“Annexing DeWolfe is trying to compensate for their current housing situation,” he said. “They are trying to escape their Russian bunkers.”

And he cast doubt on Mather’s veritas regarding the war’s central issue—the gong.

“I suspect the gong is in Mather,” Kalamchi said. “I don’t think Mather has enough money to send it to Russia.”

HoCo members in Adams—the “defenseless” victim Mather has sworn to defend—echo Kalamchi’s suspicions.

“That’s rubbish. Maybe they have convinced their own people, but everyone else can see through it,” Christopher A. Lamie ’04, co-chair of Adams’ HoCo, said of Mather’s assertion that Kirkland stole the gong. “Whoever took the gong is being kind of sneaky.”

He added that when Pforzheimer House residents stole the gong a few years ago, they let Adams know they had it, and after Adams answered their challenge, they were able to recover the gong.

“Mather has inserted itself into this issue quiet suspiciously,” he added.

Joshua A. Barro ’05, incoming Adams HoCo co-chair, was more direct.

“I think Mather stole the gong,” he said. “There will be a response but that’s classified information.”

Morris—Mather’s HoCo secretary—glossed over what could be a potentially fatal rift in the alliance.

“Adams seems to be resigned to their fate, but [Mather] must step up and protect them from Kirkland’s aggression,” he said.

Exam period has dampened hostilities, as the combatants retire to study carrels like an army going into winter quarters, but Mather’s leaders—while refusing to reveal specifics—say that following intersession the battle will be rejoined.

“After we return to class, the lines in this conflict will be drawn,” said Corker, who claimed that Mather is busy forging alliances among the River Houses and in the Quad.

—Staff writer Yailett Fernandez can be reached at yfernand@fas.harvard.edu.