The View From Outside

Don’t let your dorm-room actions affect outsiders

A few weeks ago, I saw someone naked.

Accidentally.

I was standing in the Eliot courtyard, and a friend was pointing out his room to me when I happened to see someone standing right smack dab in a dorm window—100 percent in the nude. Now, to be clear, I didn’t intend in the slightest to see any of this, but once you have seen something like that it’s hard to pretend it never happened. Unfortunately, incidents like these are far too common at Harvard, because much of the student body seems not to realize that their actions inside their rooms leak into and affect the outside world.

Although keeping the shades up during the day is a nice way to enjoy the scenery that Harvard has to offer, at night it might be best to keep the shades drawn. For all those non-physics majors out there, it is in fact much easier for someone to see into a bright room at night than it is for you to see out of it. Think about Taylor Swift and the guy next door checking each other out every night in her music video, “You Belong With Me.” It’s nice that it worked out for them, but it could have been very different if Taylor was creeped out by the guy next door. And remember, just because you can’t see someone doesn’t mean they can’t see you.

And we Harvard students affect more than just our peers here; we affect the general public. What about the tourists? I don’t know about you, but nothing wakes me up more than seeing a tourist peer into my window at 10 in the morning when I’m half dressed. In their innocent quest to get the “inside scoop” on Harvard, tourists often get much more than they bargained for.

Besides disturbing images, noise also escapes dorm rooms. Walk down past the River Houses on a weekend night and you can tell where the parties are. Just listen. When big parties get all hot and muggy and people start throwing open every window they can find to get some air in there, they seem to forget that things can go out the window too—like sound. I went to a party in Leverett House last week, and without knowing the exact room number, I knew where I was headed because Lady Gaga and Sean Kingston had announced the party to me a block down the road. For the vast majority of passer-bys—who were not trawling for a random party that night—the music would have been a significant disturbance.

For those of us lucky enough to have our own bathrooms, check out those walls. Yeah, they’re thinner than a Gov course pack. The next time you start hearing voices while you’re doing your thing in the bathroom, don’t worry, it’s not in your head. To some people, talking through bathroom walls might be a nice way of getting to know the people next door, but I know I like some privacy in there. Oh, and to the girl in the dorm next door, if you’re going to sing in the shower, please pick something good! If I hear “Party in the USA” while I’m shaving one more time I might nick myself, and it would be your fault.

So Harvard, next time you decide to do something embarrassing in your room, like jumping around at 2 a.m., blasting music, or wearing your old pajamas, remember that you should be respectful of your potential audience. Being a Harvard student already feels like you’re on display whenever you walk through the Yard; don’t let that continue in your dorm room. Unless you want to put on a show, though; it’s your choice. Tonight however, I’ll be pulling down my shades.

Jackson F. Cashion ‘13, a Crimson editorial comper, lives in Mower Hall.

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