Bloom with a View
The deterioration of American community has become an increasingly examined problem in social science. Some of its major descriptors include Charles A. Murray ‘65, the W. H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and, more recently, the author of “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010”; and Robert D. Putnam, the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and author of “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.”
I was interested in what my graduating Harvard friends and I could do to stave off the decline of American social capital—social networks and the trust and norms of reciprocity that result from them—that both scholars identify. In Coming Apart, Murray argues that, since the 1960s, there has been a qualitative divergence between a “new lower class” and a “new upper class.” The vast majority of Harvard graduates end up in the latter group. As Murray writes, the new upper class “share tastes, preferences, and culture” more so than ever and has become “increasingly isolated” along residential, economic, educational, and (often) political lines. This split, then, signifies damage to “the American project”—the capacity for individuals to live their lives as they choose and to join together to solve common problems—and to our community more broadly.
Robin Williams once said, “If you can remember the sixties, you weren’t there.”
That is how I pictured senior spring. In my dreams, I imagined it would be a time for carefree picnicking, joyful inebriation, and peaceful reflection. My professors would collectively cease to assign response papers and tests. The weather would be 80 degrees every day (rather than just two freak days). It would be the perfect way to end my time at Harvard.
I have a fairly strong stomach. But the integrity of my digestive tract has been damaged by the demoralizing experience of Dorm Crew.
My need to “take a breather” while scrubbing a random person’s toilet is not enough reason to abolish Dorm Crew. The fact that I (and others) likely did a poor job of scrubbing, however, should be adequate. Dorm Crew is not hygienic, and that one fundamental flaw alone delegitimizes its existence. I have worked Dorm Crew on two occasions, and I didn’t feel like I had actually made people’s bathrooms significantly cleaner. Shinier? Yes. Cleaner? Probably not.