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A. Kinder, Gentler Crimson

By Joshua M. Sharfstein

NOT final clubs. Not Harvard dining services. Not the Society of Nerds and Geeks. According to the recently released report by Education School Professor Richard J. Light--excerpted in this week's Harvard Gazette--students say the organization that "reflects least positively" on campus life is The Harvard Crimson.

In a portion of the study that Light calls "unscientific" and not "based on rigorously designed surveys," students criticize The Crimson for choosing "to publish articles and opinions that incline toward a negative view" and for generally "represent[ing] an entire campus in any way they choose."

We confess. We are personally responsible for this impression. As editorial chairs, we set the tone for The Crimson's editorial voice. We print those opinions that "incline toward a negative view." It is we who "represent the entire campus in any way we choose."

Our first reaction to the Light report was to retort snidely that if those complainers spent 50 hours every week in a decaying building on Plympton St., then they they'd be negatively inclined, too.

After repeating this witty rejoinder to everyone we knew, we decided to give the report's allegations a fair hearing. After all, we believe in the value of constructive criticism. Maybe a little soul-searching is in order. Maybe we are being too negative.

IT'S true, The Crimson rarely boasts headlines such as "Subramania!" or "Radcliffe: Pillar of Strength." And unlike the Gazette, we never ran a story reporting that "March is Mug Month." We apologize for these oversights.

We just thought that healthy skepticism of authority was what distinguished the American media from the preglasnost Soviet press. We thought students would appreciate a questioning attitude toward the Harvard administration. We were wrong.

For example, like the Harvard Gazette, The Crimson reported that the University tested the drinking water and found it to be safe from potential carcinogens. But unlike the Gazette, we asked why Harvard did not inform students during the 16 months when the water wasn't safe.

Now we realize that we were just nitpicking. We have failed to provide an upbeat outlook that keeps a smile on everyone's face and a skip in everyone's walk. On at least several occasions, we have failed to print University press releases verbatim as staff editorials. We apologize.

Now it's time to atone for our errors.

.President Derek C. Bok has a fine haircut. A damned fine haircut.

.Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III has impeccable taste in bow ties.

.To the best of our knowledge, Radcliffe President Linda S. Wilson has never been convicted of a felony.

.We admire Dean of the Faculty A. Michael Spence and Dean of the College L. Fred Jewell '57. It takes courage to have an initial for a first name.

.We think that members of the Undergraduate Council are intelligent, dedicated, diligent and effective--with many exceptions.

.Dining hall food prevents starvation quite adequately.

.We think that the jokes of the Harvard Lampoon can sometimes, maybe, in a way, get close to being...

OKAY, let's not get ahead of ourselves. We have clearly demonstrated that not everything in The Crimson is negatively inclined.

In fact, it is only with great regret that we publish the results of our "unscientific," not "based on rigorously designed surveys" study of the Harvard Gazette.

Result 1: Based on a study of the recycling bins in our entryways, unread copies of the Gazette constitute precisely 91.8 percent of recycled newsprint at Harvard.

Result 2: Based on a poll of three people sitting at our table in the dining hall, 100 percent of Harvard students have never read the Gazette, 66.6 percent have never heard of it, and 33.3 percent believe it is The Crimson's weekly magazine.

Result 3: Based on a study of two human subjects, reading the Harvard Gazette is a more effective sleep-aid than memorizing transcripts of EC 10 lectures.

As far as we're concerned, this sort of negativity has no place on the opinion page of a respectable newspaper. As our first-grade teachers used to tell us, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. And get your finger out of your nose."

Out of respect for Miss Pyle and Mrs. Dugan, we vow to say only nice things from now on. Our motto is no longer "Which side are you on?"

It's "Don't worry, be happy."

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