“How did you survive Harvard College?” conservatives ask me, half-jokingly.
Half-seriously, I tell them: “Hell if I know.”
Rarely do you find someone who excels both in policy and in politics. The policy wonk can manufacture ideas, but he cannot sell them. The political hack, on the other hand, can sell anything, but he needs products.
Harvardians dread this dilemma. To avoid it, they try to learn practical skills. At the Institute of Politics, for instance, they attend study groups like “From College to Congress: Preparing as a Student to Run for Public Office” or “Staffing Up: How to Hire (and Fire) Campaign Staff and Consultants.”
We should study cultures other than the West, but not for the reason many students think.
The reason they give is we must be up-to-date. “[W]e are now two thousand years removed from the fall of Rome,” The Harvard Crimson opined, “and the academic occupations of modern scholars should necessarily be different from those of the ancients.” Harvard College agrees. Its website says, “The Program in General Education…[links] the arts and sciences with the 21st century world that students will face.” Our task, it seems, is to make sense of the here and now.
You should be grateful. Next year, you will cost Harvard College $50724 in tuition, room, and board. Yet you will pay around $11500 if you receive financial aid, as most students do. Should you thank Dean Michael Smith for his magnanimity, however, you might wonder, “Why does the College charge so much?”
Answer: Because it can.
In Harvard Square, a good burger is hard to find. You can order “The Viagra” at Mr. Bartley’s, but he charges $9.79 for his help. You can savor “hand-packed” beef at b.good, but be warned: Real food is real slow. You can chow down at Flat Patties, but you better enjoy a detour. The Square lacks a cheap, quick, close alternative. In other words, it lacks a McDonald’s.
Or a KFC for that matter. Cambridge’s zoning laws spook fast-food chains from the Square. Section 11.31 of the Zoning Ordinance, for instance, demands that a joint look “compatible with…other buildings…in the particular location”; fulfill “a need for such a service in the neighborhood”; and attract “patrons primarily from walk in trade as opposed to drive in [trade].” So you can sue it for almost anything.