How Very Random

I. Fred Jewett

Dean of Harvard College

University Hall 4

Cambridge, MA 02138

Dear Dean Jewett:


Tomorrow afternoon at about 12:45 p.m., a bunch of us--there's no telling how many, because, you see, we're all taking exams and we might otherwise not be bothered--are planning to rally outside your office in the beautiful Cambridge springtime weather, in protest of your recent announcement to completely randomize the first-year housing lottery.

Sure, many of us didn't make any attempt to see you to express our views in the three month s that you've been asking students to come talk about this issue. But we figure that since the new policy has now been announced, and the entire decision-making process drawn to a close, that it would just be easier to protest a done deal, and a lot more fun to boot. After all, we can add "didn't get a say in the process" to our list of grievances. It's just like that Pforzheimer thing. We're angry and we're going to show it. Hell hath no fury like a bunch of Harvard students with time on their hands and the idea for a great publicity stunt.

In fact, we've circulated a petition in the Freshman Union and in Adams House, because the other Houses seemed too far away to get to. We're going to bring that petition to the rally and wave it flagrantly in front of your window. Please have a look!

We're also writing letters to the Harvard Clubs in large cities, that talk about the good old days of segregation by class and clique, to evoke their nostalgia and to convince them to write to you in protest. After all, we think that the Class of 1999 should be able to have it as good as the Classes of '09, '29, and '89. Those were the days.

We're going to call this a long-term battle, because it's easier that way and we have a role in history to play. Historically, all momentous changes in the organization of a society or community have been opposed by traditionalist groups. These traditionalist groups always get a prominent mention in the history books and represent the zeniths of the society that preceded the change. That's us. We're the best and brightest of the segregators by race, by extracurricular interest, and by levels of pretension. Hear us roar.

We will claim small successes over along period of time, to give our movement momentum and sustained zeal. Things might not happen right away, but maybe when you're far off in your welldeserved retirement, your successors will get tired of us and throw us a sop. That would be nice. Did we mention that we're going to poster at Commencement, too? Maybe we can get balloons with House shields on them and scare Vaclev Havel away. The pink balloons really seemed to disconcert Colin Powell.

Being the modern classes of the 1990s, we're also busy as bees typing our hearts out over the internet. There are hundreds of messages against randomization, and we had planned to send you a big, big e-mail about it, but it turns out that not many people here cared that much to sign the electronic protest. So we're working in other areas. We were also going to call your office every five minutes, for however long it took, until you changed your mind. But again, we're saving that bombshell for another day. And besides, we like your executive assistant. And she doesn't have anything to do with your decision, You see? We really are a reasonable and benevolent bunch.

Lastly, you should be aware that we have already begun to contact recent high-money donors to the College, and will soon be in a position to pull the purse-strings of the College shut if you don't reverse your decision. Our new arms-for-management-consulting-work deal with a prominent Middle Eastern supplier is also putting us in a position to one day exert military pressure on University Hall. We're training in Soldiers Field Park this summer. Consider our might carefully, Dean Jewett.


Students Committed Against Randomization--Yuck! (SCARY!)

Patrick S. Chung's column will continue to appear this summer.