'Till the Break of Dawn

FM Investigates Harvard's Early and Late Hours

Some students are natural early-risers who awaken at dawn. Others are night owls who never hit their mattresses earlier than 2 a.m. Both types of students will miss out on a time of day that could have much to offer. What happens on campus in the wee hours of the morning: the twilight times post 2 a.m. and the rosy sunrise hours around 6 a.m.? FM investigates.

Late Night: 2:16 a.m.- Mia L. Sobin

Walking outside, I feel like I’m interrupting the stillness that has settled over Harvard Yard. Moonlight wraps around the edges of each dorm, and, squinting, I can make out a HUPD officer leaning against her car.

I weave through the paths of the Yard and approach her, asking about working the night shift in Harvard Yard. She tells me that the shift offers a much quieter perspective on student life: “Weeknights, they’re not busy at all,” she explains. “Weekends, it’s usually busy, from 11 o’clock at night until 4 in the morning, when students are walking back to their dorms.”

She’s right—as I trudge onward and pass through Boylston Gates, I am confronted suddenly by packs of loud, belligerent pedestrians. Hello, Saturday night. A man in a black pea coat stumbles towards me, clutching his iPhone, asking, “Where is Hong Kong? Just point me in the direction.” After assuring him that The Kong is merely two blocks away, I continue along my journey, passing JP Licks (two hours too late for a Coffee Oreo with sprinkles) and countless inebriated passersby.

As I walk down Mt. Auburn Street I approach the new, late night food addition to the square: Insomnia Cookies. A few men, fervently holding on to several Chocolate Chunk cookies, crowd by the bright window looking onto the street. I head up to the front desk, asking the guy that works behind the counter about a typical night on the job.

“Yeah, there’s a rush at 11pm, and then again at 1:30,” he answers. “Its usually just typical drunk people. Nothin’ too crazy. Except I had two old ladies come on St. Patty’s day--totally obliterated. That was crazy. He goes on to describe how Insomnia disposes of their leftover cookies: he takes all the excess home himself.

Back outside, despite the occasional shout or jeer, the Square feels eerily peaceful, removed from its everyday bustle. Students and locals roam together in search of a good time, content in their states of mutual intoxication.

In a way, this typical Saturday night felt almost calming, offering an appreciated—but noisy—break from the rush and stress of the week. Heading home to the Yard and climbing into bed I feel at ease, contented, sleepy, pleased with my late-night explorations, and, most of all, eager to sleep in until Sunday brunch.

Early Mornings: 6:32 a.m.- Josh J. Friedman

It is chilly; the sun still hides behind gray clouds.  I expect to see nothing more than my own reflection on the street, but surprisingly I am not alone. Students, locals, and even tourists wander through the Yard, experiencing the beauty of a relatively calm Harvard campus.

As I begin exploring early morning campus beyond the Yard, I realize that some students have experienced the pre-8:30 a.m. morning for their entire time here at Harvard.  Many of them are athletes. I spot a few members of the Men’s Rowing team exiting their dorms and heading towards the river for practice. I rush after them.

Though at first the idea of waking up early for a team practice seems terrifying, the co-captain of the lightweight rowing team Matt O’Leary ‘13 assures me of the benefits of wakeful early mornings.  “The biggest difference for us is the river…there are far fewer boats on the water, and there is usually less wind than in the rest of the day,” he explains. I am not convinced.

But O’Leary loves his sport and continues to gush.   “Getting to row on flat water completely validates the effort of getting out of bed so early,” he insists. “There is something very enjoyable about being up and getting to work while most of campus is still asleep.”

As I continue to wander around predominantly closed stores and lifeless dorms, Harvard Square feels strangely quiet. A steady flow of traffic begins to emerge, and as the morning continues more and more students seem to be walking about.

I stop Currier senior Max W. Sabor ‘13 on the street, and he says he is often among the brave cohort of students who regularly wake up to participate in the early college world. Sabor works at the Boston Arts Academy through the Harvard Undergraduate Teacher Education Program and generally wakes up at 6:20 a.m. to arrive at school for his day of student teaching around 7:30 a.m. Although Sabor finds teaching to be meaningful and rewarding, he says he has “to restrain (himself) from being tempted by (his) roommates and other late-night activities,” so that he has enough energy to work each morning.

After experiencing the calm and quiet beauty of a Harvard morning, I make one more stop on my early morning adventure: breakfast at Zinnekens for home-made Belgian waffles. A morning began with miserable groans and harsh alarm has reached a perfect, sugar-loaded end. I soak it in. Then, I head back to bed.

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