Hoping to capitalize on the long-standing rivalry between their schools, the Harvard Blood Drive and the American Red Cross at Yale have arranged drives to take place on both campuses.
The victor will be determined on the basis of a scoring system in which points are awarded based on the amount of blood donated, the number of first-time donors, the percentage of the student population that shows up to donate, and the number of volunteers that help to run the drive.
According to contest rules, the loser will have to buy a congratulatory advertisement in the campus newspaper of the winning school.
The competition has received a joint letter of support from University President Lawrence H. Summers and Yale University President Richard C. Levin.
“Giving blood is a way of contributing to the community and something that we always want to encourage at Harvard,” said Summers.
Evoking the rivalry between the two schools, he added, “Harvard will do as well in the blood drive competition as it has done in football over the last four years.”
Frankfurter Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz has also lent his endorsement to the event.
“I think it’s very important for young people to contribute what they can to help other people, and most young people can’t contribute money, and students are very busy, so it’s difficult to contribute time, but blood is plentiful,” he said.
In light of “horrors” like the spread of AIDS in Africa and the recent tsunami in Asia, Dershowitz called blood donation “a very important both symbolic and material contribution.”
Patricia M. Raciti ’06, one of the coordinators of the Harvard Blood Drive, said the competitive aspect of the event was only a secondary aspect, intended to “get people into it.”
“The point is to rise above the competition for a good cause,” she said.
The founder and chair of the American Red Cross at Yale, Jenny X. Zhang, echoed these sentiments. “We’re hoping that everyone, through the competition with Harvard, will be really encouraged to turn out.”
Harvard’s half of the effort will take place from Feb. 9-11 in Adams House. The drive will be accompanied by several promotional events, including a Valentine’s Day raffle, an opportunity for donors and volunteers to vote for the design of a special T-shirt, and a chance for any five members of a student group who volunteer or donate together to win a miniature iPod and iTunes gift certificates.
Already, the competitive nature of the blood drive seems to be encouraging the enthusiasm intended by the organizers.
“The Crimson of Harvard should contribute their crimson blood with more enthusiasm than the blue-bloods of Yale,” said Dershowitz, a graduate of Yale Law School. “As the winning school in every other way, we should make sure we’re more generous.”
—Crimson staff writer Matthew S. Lebowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.