As 2011 comes to an end, The Crimson looks back at the most important events at Harvard over the year.
10. Football Team’s Triumphant Ivy Season Ends in Tailgate Tragedy
After Harvard finished second in the Ivy League in 2009 and 2010, the pundits projected the same result for the Crimson in 2011. A loss in the year’s first contest to Holy Cross and injuries to quarterback Collier Winters and linebacker Blaise Deal only seemed to bolster the prognostications. But after that lone loss, Harvard reeled off nine straight wins in historic fashion en route to an Ivy title.
All sorts of records fell in 2011. The Crimson broke its modern-era record for points scored in a single season, with 374 in its 10 contests. Winters’ replacement as quarterback, Colton Chapple, became just the second player in program history to throw for five touchdowns; the following week, having returned from injury, Winters became the third. On Nov. 5, Harvard’s 35-21 victory over Columbia made Tim Murphy the winningest coach in Crimson history, passing the mark set by long-time coach Joe Restic, who passed away on Dec. 8.
A resounding 37-20 victory over Penn secured the Ivy title for Harvard. The season ended with the annual Harvard-Yale game—which the Crimson won, 45-7. The triumph was marred by disaster, however. At the tailgate party before the game, a U-Haul truck driven by a Yale student struck three women, leaving 30-year-old Nancy Barry dead and two hospitalized. Yale announced that it would launch a special review of its tailgating regulations in response to the accident, and it remains unclear whether Harvard will follow suit.
9. Summer School Instructor Swamy Sparks Anger with Editorial
In July, Indian politician and Harvard Summer School instructor Subramanian Swamy published an editorial in India that soon caused ire on both continents. In light of the piece, which proposed demolishing mosques, disenfranchising non-Hindus, and forbidding Indian citizens from converting from Hinduism, a group of Harvard students circulated a petition calling Swamy’s words offensive and asking that Harvard cut its ties with him.
At first, Harvard claimed that it would stand by Swamy despite the “distressing” content of his op-ed. A civil liberties group warned that any action against Swamy would be a violation of the instructor’s free speech rights.
But in December, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences reversed course. When the Summer School course catalog came up for approval, the Faculty passed a motion to exclude Swamy’s economics classes from the 2012 roster. Though some expressed concern that removing an instructor based on his political viewpoints sets a dangerous precedent, the majority of the Faculty, led by Diana L. Eck who introduced the motion, saw fit to end Harvard’s relationship with the inflammatory politician.
8. “I Am Fine” Spurs Campus Discussion About Mental Health
An anonymous essay on mental health published by The Crimson in February opened a floodgate of heartfelt responses from the Harvard community and beyond. In the essay, titled “I Am Fine,” the writer discussed her struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts at Harvard. Her frank, haunting piece emphasized the importance of students talking to each other about their emotions rather than attempting to make their busy schedules and taxing workloads appear effortless.
The community listened to the writer’s message. Over one hundred people posted comments on the article, many sharing their own painful experiences with mental illness at Harvard and at colleges across the nation. Administrators, editorial writers, and concerned students encouraged students to open up to each other about their feelings and to take advantage of mental health resources at Harvard. Dialogue about this often silent issue increased through many channels: a new online forum inspired by the article, a new website from a student mental health advocacy group and appearances outside the Science Center, and the opening of the HappyNest, a play space in the Quad geared toward reducing student stress.