I never thought that my sense of smell was terribly good, but I’m pretty certain that the yard smells like poop. To the displeasure of many Harvard students, at least once every semester a wave of aromatized feces seems to invade the everyone’s nostrils.
Nobody really knows why this happens. During my time here, I’ve casually asked some friends for their opinions. An interesting hypothesis is that once the winter’s layers of snow melt away, old pet droppings become exposed to the outside world. Another friend hypothesized that the Divest Heat Week protesters probably haven’t bathed in weeks, although that’s surely not true—it’s likely only been a few days since they’ve last bathed.
As the respected investigative reporter that I am, I felt like it was my duty as a Crimson Kid and a Harvard student to get to the bottom of this controversy.
Last week, I tried to interview a man driving what could only be described as a brown-dust-spewing machine on why the particulate being expelled from his tractor-like contraption smelled so bad, but I couldn’t really hear him over the rattle of the engine.
Feeling defeated, I sent Harvard Yard Ops an email. When Anthony J. Pacillo, Associate Director of Residential Facilities, told me that “the smell you may be referring to is the ‘organic fertilizer’ we use in the Yard,” I was shocked.
I just stood there for many minutes, staring into the computer screen. How could the fertilizer be the culprit? How could the substance we look up to for bringing grass (and thus summer happiness) to the Northeast be so aromatically abrasive?
I would have asked more questions, but a tear started to roll down my cheek and I replied with a simple “thank you” in fear of my waterfalling tears damaging my keyboard. I then went to the Google and did some research. I first googled “poop plants,” but that gave me many unpleasant results. I then looked up “manure fertilizer” (a far more scientific term). After literally two minutes of research, I found from an article on fertilizers from the San Francisco Chronicle that manure “makes an excellent fertilizer and soil conditioner,” which is dandy.
However, my research also made me privy of something far more alarming than a stinky odor. According to the article, manure-based fertilizer is rich in “the presence of harmful pathogens [and] parasites.” I’m no scientist, but I’m pretty sure pathogens and parasites can make people sick.
Is Harvard trying to intentionally make its students sick? Is this part of a larger plot by the University to funnel ill children into the new CVS and buy increased amounts of medicine? This warrants future in-depth investigation…