Media outlets and personalities like O’Reilly made a paltry and delayed effort at understanding Corker’s position, choosing to portray the special assistant to the dean for social planning as some kind of omnibus party planner responsible for prying Harvard students from their books onto the dance floor, against their wishes. Moreover, the media’s long belated reporting of Corker’s appointment is sloppy journalism, reflecting just how eager media outlets are to perpetuate stereotypes of Harvard students that are utterly untrue in the name of filling space on a slow news day. The truth of the matter is that Corker fills the role of event consultant and coordinator. His job is to help students who have event plans make their visions come to fruition, not to teach Harvardians to do keg-stands.
The tangible benefits of Corker’s tenure at University Hall are already being felt. Students are able to party more freely because of his work with university administrators and with local governmental agencies. The Cambridge Licensing Commission recently agreed to extend party hours for Harvard students to 2:00 a.m., in large part thanks to Corker’s lobbying efforts on students’ behalf. Far from dragging studious nerds away from their textbooks and feeding them Jell-O shots, Corker’s work is both more mundane and more valuable than the newsmedia would have their audiences believe.
Contrary to popular belief, we Harvard students do know how to party. As the rising number of alcohol-induced visits to Harvard University Heath Services (UHS) attests, we know—perhaps too well—how to unwind in the most traditional sense. But Harvard also features unique opportunities for undergraduate fun-seekers. Weekly Undergraduate Council party grants for in-room events enhance Harvard’s social scene, grants which are unknown at the vast majority of American universities. Many universities do not even allow their students to throw parties in their rooms. And although Harvard may not boast rows of Natural Light-soaked fraternities and sororities, it does have the residential house system to provide students with social anchors.
Sorry to disappoint, Mr. O’Reilly.
The fact that the College’s administration is seeking, through Corker’s position, to facilitate students’ social activities does not constitute the sort of vastly-paternalistic approach towards partying that media coverage of Corker’s appointment seeks to convey. There is an important difference between facilitating students’ activities and teaching them to party in the first place. That difference, however, was also too nuanced to make it into the nightly news.
It sems that the hardest part about partying at Harvard isn’t finding support or space, it’s proving its existence in the first place.