When Jubilee Almost Died; Or, How Four Conspirators Tried to Make You Richer

The plots to kill Jubilee Weekend are multifarious. More than once in the short history of this gala affair, a group of disgusted roommates, turned down by all four girls that they knew at Endicott, have sat around late scheming for its demise. Jocks tried to kill it when the Byrds appeared; heads have always stayed away en masse. But no one has really managed to pin down what makes Jubilee so terrible every year. Last year, a series of fortuitous coincidences almost brought the noble tradition down, but alas, they're going to give it one more try this year.

IT WAS a late spring evening in 1968 (and it's always late in the evening when these plots are hatched); four slightly motley looking freshmen had just returned from the Elise's run. At dinner they had groaned at the Jubilee opening skit and pushed their potatoes around on their trays when it finally came out that the Lovin Spoonful were going to play the main concert for the big spring affair.

The very idea of a Spring Weekend was revolting enough. After all, they had stopped going to the high school dances in 10th grade. And this was an obvious stunt--a stunt that freshmen would never let the Freshmen Council get away with. But they were going to try it anyway, and in fact, the freshmen were told in the middle of February that this Jubilee thing had even been done before.

The very name of Jubilee Weekend was revolting. In the middle of March, people started calling each other Jubilarians and ringing up their girls back home. Disgusting. There can't be such a thing as a Jubilarian, people wouldn't really use that word at Harvard, would they? You used to walk into the Freshman Union and pick up a pamphlet entitled "Fellow Jubilarian--" and everyone would snicker; but they used it, yessir, people walked around that weekend going where the Jubilarians went, doing what good Jubilarians were supposed to do.

Jubilee Weekends always start in the middle of February. First there is a poll of everybody in the Union to decide who The Group will be this year. Then through some enormously complex method of voting in which everyone tries to stuff the ballot box, they come out with a top three. And usually the combined vote for this top three totals about 200 more than the number of freshmen in the class.


The Jubilee Committee decides which of the three bands it wants. Last year, they picked the Lovin Spoonful and the Conspiracy against Jubilee got its first big boost from the Jubilee Committee. This support was crucial later on to all the plans for an unsuccessful weekend.

IN MARCH, after a kickoff skit which alienated enough freshmen to make sure that only those not present in the Union that night would come, tickets started to go on sale.

Now the theory behind ticket sales is to make it obvious to all freshmen that this is probably the biggest event in the history of Harvard--of course not as big as the bust, but still you can't sell tickets for something like that. Not only is Jubilee in itself the biggest thing, but this very Jubilee is even better than all the others, so you should buy your tickets before they are all sold out. A subtle point often connected with this theory is that because this is the best Jubilee, it is naturally also the most expensive ($19 last year, $22 this year).

There is another theory behind the rise in ticket prices. While they tell everyone that this is going to be a brand new Jubilee, the organizers know that Jubilee Weekends are always the same. Because so few people came to Jubilee the year before, if the same number of people come this year they will have to pay more per person just to cover the deficit calculated from the year before. This really needn't be explained; suffice it to say that the shady dealings with the price of tickets was also part of the whole Conspiracy.

When the tickets went on sale, there was a line of about 300 freshmen waiting to be there first. My roommates were thinking of taking a sleeping bag the night before, but soon realized that the Lovin Spoonful were not the Bruins. Usually in the past twice that number -- over 600 -- were supposed to have lined up waiting for tickets, so already there were signs that the Conspiracy against Jubilee was spreading.

After people found out that only those 300 hard-core Jubilarians bought tickets the first day, the line on the second day was miniscule. The first myth about Jubilee, its timeless popularity, had been shattered despite the two month efforts of the Jubilee Committee to plant that myth in every freshman head. No one felt the urgency to stand in line anymore and everyone waited casually to see if the hometown honey could make it into town that weekend, if their roommates would possibly leave town that weekend, or if the late show Friday night was going to be good or bad.

BUT THERE is no point in belaboring the early woes of Jubilee; they were just a small return from Harvard's usual apathy. And when these four conspirators got together sipping frappes in the middle of April, they had little knowledge of how friendly the whole Jubilee Committee was to their plan.

Because Jubilee operates on the assumption that Harvard freshmen will pay big dough for a weekend full of sex, all the Conspiracy had to prove was that someone thought the fun wasn't worth the money. It was not a question of discrediting the weekend--the Jubilee Committee was perfectly competent to handle that by itself--the Conspirators had to break the shimmering halo that made Jubilee a "must" weekend.

All the tickets had not been sold by the beginning of April. In fact very few of the tickets had been sold. To confuse the issue the Conspirators wrote their first fraudulent sign offering tickets for sale at a discount:

"I thought it would be a really big weekend, but now I find out the Lovin Spoonful are playing and my girl ran off with a football player at Miami of Ohio. I didn't even know they played football at Miami of Ohio Jubilee tickets for sale: $11.50."