A Comper's Guide to the Crimson Key Tour


Start in the Radcliffe Quad. Run through the various buildings, including the Agassiz Theater and Byerly Hall, the "scariest building on the Harvard campus." Have a hearty laugh at the prospective applicants' expense. Clarify the relationship between Radcliffe and Harvard.

Move on to Johnston Gate. Explain how you are only supposed to walk through it twice, once when you move in as a freshman, and once when you graduate. But wait...we just walked through it! Tell the story of Harvard Hall burning down, and how the president of the college expelled a student for saving the last book in the Harvard Hall collection. Next account for the world-renowned camaraderie of the Harvard community:

CK: You can see that most of the freshmen dorms are quite close together, in an effort to build a sense of community by having the freshmen class quite close to each other. We'll talk a little more about that. There is one dining hall for all freshmen, they all eat in the same place and there is one central place for freshmen to pick up their mail. These kinds of things bring the freshmen class together a little bit.

FM: I don't understand how going to the mail center and getting my mail is going to facilitate meeting people. Is there some sort of student center, like a central area for students to congregate?

CK: We don't have anything that is officially called a student center. There is actually an attempt right now on behalf of the students to get that going and get the administration to prioritize that. But we do have a couple of places, one of them is Loker Commons where we'll be going, which is a place with a cafeteria, pool tables, a TV room, some computer terminals--sort of a place to go and meet people and hang out, do whatever. In the upperclass houses and in and around the Yard there are things called common rooms that you can go to at pretty much anytime. They are just nice places to be.

FM:On the way over here I was solicited by a number of people who I assume to be homeless--also at the subway stop I noticed some characters who looked sort of shady. So I was just wondering about safety in general.

CK:(mentions HUPD, blue light system, Safety Walk, ID cards. Does not mention sexual assault in Byerly Hall, two students being knocked unconscious outside of Tommy's, or mugging in Mather.)

PROSPECTIVE STUDENT: Are there any sororities or eating clubs or anything?

CK: Harvard does not officially recognize any fraternities, or sororities, or eating clubs. There are a couple informal, unofficial clubs of this kind, but I would say that these clubs do not play as big a role in social life as much similar clubs play at other colleges. I would say that the social life revolves around your different clubs, your team, your extracurricular, your dorm or blocking group. No big Greek life, but sort of a variety of other things to do.

FM: What percentage of people would you say are involved in those informal clubs you were talking about?

CK: 5 percent.

Quickly shift the focus towards John Harvard's statue, or the "statue of three lies," as they like to say. After explaining the seal on the side and debunking the lies, tell a fourth:

CK: One thing you'll notice about John Harvard is that the left toe is pretty well-worn. The superstition is that if you rub it for luck, you'll get a letter of acceptance, so if anyone wants to rub it before we go on, please feel free. Watch how many unsuspecting tourists actually go for the foot scam. Count how many of them actually touch its urine-soaked veneer, and then try to beat that amount on the next tour. High score wins first dibs on the fresh-meat during Orientation week.

Head towards the Science Center for a quick overview of academics. Stand in that little area behind Science Center C where Core course selection is great, professors are approachable and never go on sabbatical, and sections are your most fulfilling academic experience. Then field questions.

"PHIL" FROM EXETER: What's your class schedule like?