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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
It's Easy to Be P.C.
Thousands of James Taylor fans flocked to Harvard Stadium last week for the latest rendition of Live-Aid, a stop in Taylor's "Small World Tour" to benefit the homeless.
Although the ticket prices were a bit steep ($25 for "partial view"), the proceeds went to help the homeless in Cambridge--certainly an important cause. Along with the concert program, everyone received a newspaper, explaining the problems facing the area's growing homeless population and the programs the concert proceeds were going to help.
During the intermission, a woman from WBZ-TV--one of the concert sponsors--came on stage. Instead of asking the crowd to volunteer to help the area's homeless, she merely thanked them for coming.
"You should feel really proud of yourselves tonight," she shouted to the audience. "Because you took time out to care."
The thousands of concert-goers clapped and shouted, proud of themselves for buying tickets to a concert they wanted to see anyway.
It's the Right Beer Now
The Adolph Coors' family has never been popular with the left. Its support for right-wing causes (such as the Nicaraguan Contras) and history of acrimonious relations with organized labor and minority groups led to a long-running boycott of Coors beer by labor unions and other liberal concerns. Although the AFL-CIO recently ended its boycott, refusing to drink the Silver Bullet remains a common badge of political correctness on campus.
Consider the irony, then, that the Committee on Degrees in Social Studies, which is notorious for its plethora of pinstripe-clad Heroes of the Working Class, served Coors products at its meeting for Senior concentrators. It's not so easy being p.c. after all.
Good Girls Don't
Henry C. Moses, dean of first-year students, could have played it safe in his welcome address to first-year students and their parents. He could have talked about maturity, responsibility, change or some other inane theme which would cause everyone to nod and nobody to care.
Instead, Moses chose to speak out for the rights of minority students. He defended the existence of minority student organizations, and urged mutual acceptance of ethnic identity, saying "Tolerance is too passive."
At most, Moses's speech was an important signal that issues of racial significance will be addressed seriously by the administration this semester. If nothing else, the speech revealed that creativity lives in the minds of some administrators.
You know something is wrong when Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 says more about sex discrimination than the President of Radcliffe. New Radcliffe President Linda S. Wilson more than made up for Moses' boldness with her address to first-year students and their parents. She summed up her position in her first sentence, when she said that she was just delighted to be there.
Wilson focused on the insipid themes of "change" and "connections," and said absolutely nothing about Radcliffe's agenda except that it was "everchanging." Good girls don't make a fuss at their debuts. at their debuts.
Michael Jackson Meets Western Civ.
For those William Safire wannabees who get huffy when someone misuses the word "disinterested," read no further. Popular culture has irretrievably eroded the meaning of the word "classic." A disc jockey at WSLQ in Roanoke, VA recently persuaded this listener to turn the dial when he announced, "Coming up next: A classic from 1981..."
Joshua M. Sharfstein and John L. Larew contributed to this compilation.
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