Loosening the Harvard Necktie
On the first day back from spring break, I woke up early and headed over to Annenberg. After grabbing half a grapefruit, I sat down to enjoy my food. The two kids sitting to my left were talking about summer plans. One had a paid consulting job. I am told this is very prestigious and very lucrative. So I sat silently in the freshman dining hall, pretending to enjoy my grapefruit and lamenting my lack of summer plans. Consulting! Imagine how much prestige I would garner, and how many grapefruits I could buy, if I spent a summer as a paid consultant.
Here at Harvard, everyone seems to act like a successful forty-year-old, taking classes simply as a hobby. A girl in my entryway has already published a book. I am told that internet companies are created by Harvard students, often with a little help from friends named Eduardo and Justin Timberlake. And a friend of mine trades stocks very successfully, and is now running for political office. For those interested in a generous loan, contact me and I will be glad to put you in touch with this eager benefactor.
Harvard seems to be all about moving into the upper echelons of the adult world. Most people here seem to have things worked out. They already have career paths and ideas of how to achieve their goals. Many have had their summers planned for months, and those that don’t are filling out applications at this very moment. Harvard is a place of hard work and gentlemanliness. But despite my best efforts, I slip up every once in a while and act in a manner unbecoming to a stately, professional, paid consultant.
Last Friday, I went with a couple of friends to another school in Boston, which may or may not have been BU. The two were let into a small, quiet, and completely sober gathering. Unfortunately, the gentleman at the door was not as gracious to me. I then went around the back and snuck in through a window. This type of behavior would be discouraged at Harvard not because most parties are held on the fourth floor (of Mather) but because successful forty-year-old people don’t sneak through windows. They buy off the doorman.
You see, climbing through a window is not a gentlemanly thing to do. Harvard is an incredible place full of all things gentleman—social clubs, newspapers, monocles, and fathers in positions of power. Some people wear final club ties to class. Others spend entire days doing nothing but reading The Crimson while sipping tea and coughing quietly. And some pass their time lecturing to dozens or hundreds of students, wearing tweed jackets and sophisticatedly gesticulating with thin pieces of chalk.
Of course, Harvard frowns upon unrefined, ungentlemanly activities. It is an institution which only with great reluctance condones nude streaking in the middle of campus, particularly around finals time. Harvard has its private police force shut down snowball fights. The administration closes the gates of Harvard Yard to outside protestors. It even ropes off grassy, protest-free areas of the Yard to prevent the occasional deviation from well-traveled paths to success and professionalism.
All of which leads me to my point: Harvard needs to loosen its final club tie just a little bit. We, as the collective student body, should try to have a little fun and discover firsthand the exact extent of this esteemed institution’s rules. So please take an hour or two and do something childish. Stir up some trouble. Try to sneak into a dining hall or walk into class dressed as a janitor. Act as a substitute teacher for a day. Write a strongly worded letter to the administration for no apparent reason. Try climbing through a window or two.
Jacob R. Drucker ’15, a Crimson editorial editor, lives in Straus Hall.