Survivor, Postering Style

An investigation into the lives of those who tape, staple and tack

Most Harvard students have experienced the bittersweet ritual of morning postering: being handed popsicle sticks with tape wrapped around them, vibrantly colored posters and instructions to tape said posters upon practically every possible edifice within a one-mile radius of the Square.

It’s hard to forget that first foray into a world known affectionately to extracurricular gurus as “postering.” In the past, people-who-postered did their stuff on Mondays and Thursdays around 7:30 am, after Facilities Maintenance Operations (FMO) had cleared bulletin boards and kiosks. Confusion over postering has reigned since last fall, when, in response to frigid temperatures, the Undergraduate Council successfully launched an initiative to change the kiosk strip times to 12:30 p.m., allowing caffeinated promoters to sleep in a bit. Still, “No one really knows when you’re supposed to poster—we were still postering at 8 a.m.,” says Jojo S. Karlin, ’05, president of Children’s Theater.

This fall, postering time is 7:30 a.m., until FMO decides it’s cold enough to shift to 12:30. Responses to the changes are mixed. “I don’t miss it at all” says Elena D. Bassett ’07 about the later time change. Susan “Scottie” S. Thompson, ’05, former publicity manager of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, agrees. “Do I miss freezing my hands off in the middle of winter? No,” she says, adding, “It’s kind of absurd when it’s so cold the tape doesn’t stick.” Karlin has a different take, citing the campus’ “general feeling or inclination that postering should be done very early…it’s strange to poster at noon.”

While hitting the Yard at 7:30 a.m. may seem brutal, veterans argue it is the only way to outwit, outlast and outplay the competition.

“It’s a cutthroat world with postering,” explains Ashley P. Horan ’05, ex-president and current member of On Thin Ice (OTI), the improv group. She deems the current state of affairs “a very serious situation.” Her group has been subject to potential fines and possible foul play over the issue. Once, says Horan, OTI postered “on a sandwich board that we had not reserved…someone, like in the Krokodiloes perhaps, reported us” (when questioned, David A. Eisenberg ’07 of the Kroks said “I don’t know anything about that”). Fines for unauthorized posters are steep: angry administrators informed Horan that each illegally postered poster would cost OTI $50.

Playing by the early bird rule book has its perks. Karlin notes that “being up that early really makes you get a start on the day” and adds “you always feel more productive after postering”. As more and more student groups join the fray each Monday and Thursday, the postering debate will continue to rage. Meanwhile, some marketing renegades are bypassing orthodox methods to spread their messages of tickets, free pizza and comps. Horan admits that her favorite unauthorized place to poster is an oft-overlooked one: “bathroom stalls, even though it’s totally illegal.” After all, the ladies’ room is one marketing arena in which those Kroks just can’t compete.