A Big Disappointment

The unintelligent underclass needs to stop embarrassing the rest of us.

I came to Harvard to be surrounded by some of the world’s brightest young adults. Unfortunately, intellectual distinction is not at all what I have found.

My first few weeks in Cambridge were marked by reverence for those around me, those potentially brilliant minds that had yet to prove themselves otherwise. I had from the start, I now acknowledge, an inkling that I might be smarter than practically everyone around me. But my deference to the very name of Harvard prevented such a disquieting thought to blossom beyond mere conjecture.

It took the righteous outrage of a peer––one of the few who actually belongs here with me––at dinner a few weeks ago to shake me from my mindless complacency. Remarking on an A she received on an “incredibly easy” Expos paper she’d just written, she intimated to me that the class’ average grade of C-plus boggled her supremely apt mind. “Everyone here’s just so stupid!” she declared, brimming with justifiable frustration. “I wasn’t expecting this at Harvard.”

The outrage of this student was for me a call to arms. No longer will I allow my idealistic image of Harvard to quash the truth that is burning inside me: most of you––you meaning those who are not me––are not very smart. In fact, you are embarrassingly unintelligent, and you sully the name of this would-be-great institution.

Not only am I smarter than you; I am also more gracious. Indeed for your sake––and for the sake of those who, like myself, can hardly endure another moment in the company of imbeciles––I have compiled a few guidelines for behavior at Harvard College.

1) Language. There are those among us who believe that the primary purpose of language to be communication. Clearly they are unfamiliar with academic writing and speaking; even a casual glance at these would reveal that the real aim of language is to confuse and, in so doing, to make others realize that you are smarter than they are.

If you are comprehensible without a dictionary or thesaurus, you are disappointing me. Avoid words less than four syllables in length. Frequent use of words and phrases like “reify,” “false dichotomy,” “discursive construction” will leave little doubt of your superiority in the minds of the less gifted.

2) Sections. Do not participate unless you have perfected your speech along the lines of (1). Remember that in section, anything and everything under discussion can in fact lend itself to parallels with critical theory, Nietzsche, or Foucaultian deconstructionism; remind those around you of this regularly.

3) Sports. If you play a sport, you almost certainly shouldn’t be here. I can offer you little advice, beyond that you should probably drop out and go home, if only to save face.

To assure that Harvard never fouls the admissions process so badly again, I have one final proposal: let the few notable minds of our College step forward and volunteer themselves to identify from among the more than 20,000 applications Harvard receives the few who are genuinely worthy of admissions. Just imagine: the embarrassment that is Harvard today could become, in just a few short years, the bastion of intellectual inquiry that our Puritan forefather intended to construct.

Until then, I shall simply have to resign myself to the fact that I’m smarter than everyone else.

Paul R. Katz ’09, a Crimson editorial editor, lives in Hurlbut Hall.