An Etiquette Guide for Tourists

Dear tourist,

I know we haven't formally met, but I'm one of those people who runs around the Yard with a backpack instead of a video camera. We usually see each other near the Widener steps, at the entrance to the Science Center, next to the gate by Lamont Library and, of course, surrounding the John Harvard statue.

I am writing to let you know that you must change your habits when you visit me. I know that you might have traveled thousands of miles just to take a half-hour tour of my campus, but you have to realize that some of your habits induce insanity in the very people you're visiting.

Harvard Yard is, in many ways, my home. It is where I study, eat and sleep. It is always a pleasure to have guests, but it's upsetting when my guests wear out their welcome. When I am walking to class, please don't stop me and ask me questions about my life at Harvard. When I am trying to enter a building, please don't block the entrance while you gaze at the wonder of Harvard's architecture. When I'm trying to get to the Union to eat, there is no need for you to block the gate in front of Lamont while you stare at the metallic blob.

Most importantly, when I'm sitting in my room, discovering a new enzyme or composing my fifth symphony (you know us Harvard students), please don't come by and stare through the window. Trust me, it's probably not that interesting.


It's an honor that you, your friends and your mothers come from so many different places just to see where I live. It's quite an ego boost to think that I am playing on home video in thousands of households all over the planet. It is only a certain amount of time, however, before you won't be welcome any-more. I might start chucking poster gum at you from a third-floor window, or pour White Bean Medley on the heads of your loved ones.

If these deterrents don't work, I might try another option: unilateral restrictions. There are all kinds of things I could lobby the University to do.

Remember when all those preppies got drunk and threw up all over the place during the Head of the Charles Regatta? Well, the security guards at the entrances to the Yard could regularly patrol the gates with blood-hounds to ensure that not one stray, camera-toting Yalie is allowed to wander through. In addition, we could demand presentation of the proper papers at each entry door. It's already standard operating procedure in small Communist countries.

Upsetting? Well, there's much more we could do--restricting the number of third-grade Nebraskans and sixty-year-old French nationalists allowed to traipse through the Yard, for example.

If necessary, even the number of guests my neighbors can bring onto our turf could be restricted. And groups of high school seniors forging through the Yard on admissions tours is one thing, but people who need to take seventeen pictures of their newlyweds in the lap of John Harvard should be diverted to that stupid Shops By Harvard Yard sign.

I don't want to have to prevent you from visiting. Believe me, these potential limitations would be an inconvenience for me too. Besides, it's lovely to have guests. It's always a pleasure to have groups of people stare at you and ooh and aah as you walk by.

But please, don't be a hindrance. I don't like to think of my home as a tourist attraction.


A frustrated first-year

P.S. I overheard a tour guide telling you that the John Harvard statue is second only to the Statue of Liberty as the most photographed statue in the country. Try visiting at 2 a.m. on a Friday night for a unique photo-op of what some Harvard students do when they're drunk.

Dov P. Grossman '97 is a Crimson contributing writer from Los Angeles. He does not live near anything famous in L.A.