School Spirit: Just About Skin Deep

Your girlfriend can leave you, LFO may not rock forever, and your own mother might disown you. However, you can bet that an institution that has already survived for over 360 years will probably stick around for a while—and so will that Harvard tattoo you’re considering plastering on your ass.

For Joseph K. Cooper ’07, the Veritas shield that adorns his shoulder blade is more than just a way to show off in the locker room and at the beach.

“I view tattoos as a way to commemorate things you’re proud of,” says Cooper, who also served in the military. “The two things I’m most proud of are my service to my country and my education.”

Cooper held off on the Harvard inking until his junior year. “I waited until it was obvious that I would graduate,” he explained.

The inspiration behind Harvard tattoos varies. Thomas E. Rodger ’08 claims his block H tattoo—in the style of the Harvard football helmet—is “more of a football tattoo than for the actual school.”

Nik A. Sobic ’06-’07, a self-described tattoo-skeptic, chose to commemorate his own successful Ivory Tower career with an elaborate Harvard athletic shield tattooed on his (rather large) bicep. Until he came to Harvard, he says, nothing had been ink-worthy.

But some Harvardians shy away from marking themselves with the H-bomb, even if they don’t mind tattoos in general. Tess M. Ponce ’07 has three tattoos, but she sees Harvard tatts as slight overkill. “Isn’t the fucking degree enough?” she said, upon hearing that some students went for crimson ink.

Hey, it beats having your estranged mother’s name on your arm.