Harvard's peacekeeping forces have failed to quell a war
As the Great House War continues to escalate, we, the staff of the Harvard Crimson, have been deeply disturbed by the breakdown of inter-house peacekeeping forces. Ultimate responsibility for the ongoing conflict falls firmly on the Undergraduate Council and the Harvard administration.
One understands that the Houses may go to war from time to time, it is even expected. As Albert Einstein, remarking about the housing system, once said, “As long as there are sovereign House Committees possessing great power, war is inevitable.” What could possibly better describe our current HoCos than “possessing great power?” And yet, it doesn’t behoove one to tell a lioness not to hunt, or a shark not to mangle surfers—it is their nature. So, it does not help to tell a HoCo not to go to war.
However, certain institutional measures that were thought to curb the possibility of an all-out house war have done little to channel the energies of the HoCos to a less destructive end. Indeed, there has been a complete lack of leadership from the UC in this area—in the face of this strife they have not so much as passed a resolution against the war.
Naturally, we don’t mean to pin the whole thing on the UC. One cannot help but think that some of the culpability for this conflict has to fall on the Harvard administration. Deeper understanding of other cultures diminishes the chances of a war occurring. Certainly the strength of this divisive conflict would be diminished if all Harvard students had some sort of common space in which they could interact with people outside of their own house.
We must also seriously consider, in cases like this, the ethics of war. Rumors abound that Adams has been using pre-frosh as child soldiers, claiming they can guarantee, “none of you will be quadded.” What’s more, although the rules concerning inter-house warfare expressly prohibit the use of chemical weapons, but with all of their experience fighting roaches and rats, we worry that the residents of Winthrop House may not be far from resorting to such techniques.
Even more concerning is the fact that signs of an arms race brewing between the house have been present and ignored for a long time now. One could scarcely characterize the Russian bells in Lowell as anything other than high-grade acoustic weaponry—well, priceless cultural artifacts too, but only those two characterizations are acceptable. Do we really expect that other houses will stand by when they know that another house is in possession of priceless cultural artifacts? This is indeed a slippery slope upon which we rest.
These concerns aside, it also seems to us that the war has thus far been carried out in only the most lackadaisical fashion. We certainly hoped that when Harvard ushered the Reserve Officer Training Corps back to campus this semester, a corresponding skill in the military arts would follow, but we are sad to say that this does not seem to be the case.
Stepping back from it all, of course, the Great House War of 2012 cannot help but seem a bit ridiculous, a fact that has not escaped some critics of the war. Truly, it seems to be shaping up to a lot of talk and no game (c’mon guys, get it together), but we have to think that extricating ourselves for a moment isn’t the point. The point, rather, is to dive in. House communities have been noticeably tighter since this all started, and that’s great.
Also, Lowell should open the back gate. For real.