Is This a Mixer? A Meat Market? And Why Are You Here Anyway?


The first problem with the freshman mixer is defining it.

You can't really say it's a collection of eager first-year students mingling and getting to know each other. That would be called a core class.

Instead, imagine 1000-plus of your favorite acquaintances locking arms in sweaty embrace, swilling impotent potables like apple juice and introducing themselves in the darkness of a converted dining hall to the bump and grind of dance music.

Then you would have last Saturday night--what Harvard calls its freshman mixer.

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EXHIBIT A: Sadness spread over the faces of two freshmales from Holworthy as they sat dejectedly on the sidewalk on Quincy St. outside the Union. "I'd be a lot happier if they served booze," said the first. "All I want is for that girl over there to sit on my lap," said the other, who for his part obviously did not want for liquor.

They would not describe themselves as disappointed, however. After all, the mixer is almost the only class-wide party for Harvard students until the Senior Soiree almost four years later. It is a one of a kind, an initiation rite, and the capper to a slew of activity that all will remember--some with fondness--as Camp Harvard.

And even more important, as Stacey Anderson of Thayer Hall put it, "We're here because, basically, there's nothing better to do."

The mixer is the first opportunity for Harvard's notoriously diverse student body to check each other out in action. The results can sometimes be disappointing, especially to those who harbored the misconception of Harvard as Society Mecca on the Charles.

"Let's face it, the guys aren't very good looking," said one woman. "The girls here are pretty ugly, I'm afraid," one man responded.

"This party needs more girls," said Rui Defigueiredo, of Wigglesworth Hall and Texas. "This party needs less people, it's too dark and crowded to meet anyone," Stacie Lipp of Mower and California responded.

Matthew S. Forsyth '87-'88, co-chairman of the Crimson Key Society's Froshweek activities, sees the mixer as a cultural heirloom to be proudly passed from epoch to epoch, year to year.

"The purpose of the mixer is that we're fulfilling a tradition. There's been an opening dance at Harvard since 1910. And the great thing about the mixer is that it gets freshmen ready for competition at The Big H, albeit not on the academic front."

But another reveller proved hostile to this assessment. "Tradition, that's bullshit man. I came here to get laid." Despite his bold claim, he declined to mention his name.

Whoever called this school a brain-heavy ivory tower? One trip to the mixer dispelled the myth and gives evidence that Harvard has its fair share of simmering hormones.

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