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Down and Out in Cambridge


By John Rosenthal

HARVARD STUDENTS really have it tough.

I realized this last summer when some friends and I were talking about how awful college life is. We were playing "can you top this arduousness," and I'm sure that I emerged as the victor, having had to endure the most arduous tasks at college.

"Well, at Middlebury, things aren't so bad," said my friend Mike. "I mean, my 6 foot by 8 foot double is a little bit small, but my roommate and I are building a set of lofts so that we can take our desks out of the hallway and put them in the room."

"Yeah, my three-room suite is a little cramped too," I said, "especially when my roommate isn't away on weekends. The couch and the chairs don't fit in the common room unless I move the coffee table out of the way."

"Things at Tufts aren't too bad either," said my sister. "I mean the rooms are a bit small, but at least we get guaranteed housing for two of our four years.

"Boy, you said it," I replied. "Sometimes I can't get a seat on the shuttle bus and have to walk all the way to class.

The conversation soon moved to what we thought Hemingway's latest novel would be about. But we agreed that Hemingway had died 20 years ago and probably wouldn't be writing in the near future. So we moved on to the topic of college food.

"You know, the food at the Washington University cafeteria is pretty bad," said my friend Jeff. "The mystery meat is usually ok, but we seem to have fish about four times a week. Good thing we can't have seconds, or we'd all get sick."

"Penn food is pretty bad too," said Peter, not to be out done. "And the walk to the dining hall is so far that it's usually easier to go out and buy a sandwich at a deli. And on weekends, the cafeteria is closed and you have to do your own cooking."

"You know what I hate?" I asked. "Harvard forces you to eat breakfast. I mean, the way Harvard charges us, I could probably save my dad nearly 75 bucks a year by skipping break fast. What's worse," I added, "you can't even get steak on seconds."

THE CONVERSATION again shifted, this time to the Knicks' resounding win over the Lakers in the NBA Finals. We soon realized, however, that the Knicks had not won the NBA Finals. In fact, they had a terrible year and did not even make the playoffs. We then started talking about classes.

"Classes at Middlebury are pretty good," said Mike, "If you can get into them. I tried to pre-register for Engineering 101, but by the time I got there, it was full, so I had to change my major."

"Yeah, it's that way at Wash. U. too," said Jeff. "I just missed getting into Economics 1012 and I have to take an extra semester if I want to graduate with honors."

"I got into that class," said Leon, who is also at Wash. U. "Only the professor took attendance at every class. I wrote an A paper and got a B-plus on the final, but he gave me a D for the course because I missed one lecture."

"You guys have it easy," I said. "I got lotteried out of my Religion seminar with God, so I had to take a Physics course with some Nobel Laureate guy named Rubbia. The material wasn't so bad, but he held two classes in the middle of reading period and assigned a 10-page paper due right in the middle of Mardi Gras."

The conversation shifted again, this time to Henry Kissinger's chances for the Republican nomination for president. But we finally agreed that because Kissinger was not born in this country, it was impossible for him to become president.

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