"THE GENERAL CONSENSUS AMONG OUR BLOCKING GROUP WAS INITIALLY, 'OH FUCK," CURRENT CABOT HOUSE COMMITTEE CO-CHAIR BRANDON P. JONES'00 REMEMBERS THE FATEFUL DAY OF HIS SOPHOMORE HOUSING ASSIGNMENT. "BUT I WOULD NEVER HAVE WANTED TO LIVE BY THE RIVER, KNOWING WHAT I KNOW NOW."
The shift to completely randomized housing assignments four years ago has created a present Quad population completely determined by Lady Luck's blind hand. Previously home to the women of Radcliffe, the Quad now houses over 1,000 of Harvard's lotteried male and female students. This population has split into two distinctive breeds: those who adamantly tout their home as an isolated Eden, and those who repeatedly try to transfer the hell out of Dodge. The latter, those skeptical of their remote living situation, are a surprising minority. For the most part, Quadlings discover a sense of community and pride that smug Riverfolk will never know.
Quad life is all about trade-offs. It might be heartening, however, to know that while surviving the Quad might require some adjustments, it may actually make for a happier Harvard experience. Life in the Far Three fosters House spirit, independence and a general well-being. Quad-bound rising sophomores whose first instinct is to order transfer paperwork should remember that many critics before them have ended up calling their housing assignment "the best thing that could have happened." True, Quad life may eliminate 3 a.m. Tommy's, but in the cheerful words of Jones, "that just means we can spend more money on booze!"
Without a doubt, the Quad commute definitely requires a certain degree of will power and self-discipline. A bike doesn't hurt either. But even for the most diligent students, getting Quadded can have an impact on academic priorities, e.g. Core lectures suddenly seem particularly superfluous.
THE SHUTTLE. When inclement weather strikes, the trip to the Yard usually involves a shuttle. With its colorful roster of professional chaeuffeurs, the shuttle ride offers free entertainment along with a ride. The Crazy Shuttle Driver, for example, has achieved a near cult-hero status among Quadlings, and his outrageous hijinx inevitably have commuters in stitches before their short ride ends. According to Currier resident Katherine F. Hart '01,"everybody knows about the Crazy Shuttle Driver...he yells a lot, pushes people...he just talks to everybody."
SHUTTLEBOY. The Quad-bound will find the "Shuttleboy" Unix function particularly useful. Although originally created by David Malan '99 for his friends, Shuttleboy now allows students campus-wide to view the full shuttle schedule (or customized versions) just by logging on to telnet. Setting up the function for an individual telnet account simply requires one to follow clear on-screen instructions and customizing the program by selecting the desired options. Shuttleboy automatically accounts for special holiday shuttle schedules.
HOOFING IT. Although riding the shuttle is an entertaining event in its own right, many Quad residents extol the underappreciated virtues of foot transit. The well-travelled route from Hilles to Widener is peppered with several city sights and University offices, making it surprisingly more convenient and pleasant than might at first be apparent. The registrar is on the way, along with the undergraduate economics department and the Student Disability Resource Center offices. Hoofing to and from the Yard also brings travellers by the offbeat beatniks of Cambridge Common and the dapper Sheraton Commander bellhops, as well as within smelling distance of the HUPD headquarters' donuts.
ALTERNATIVES. For those who abhor public transportation and are too efficient for foot travel, there are other options. Privileged undergraduates can park cars in the DeWolfe, Peabody Terrace or Business School parking lots for an exhorbitant fee. Jordan E. Brand '00 and Steffen Buschbacher '00 find that access to a car Brand's parents') in the Quad "makes visiting friends by the River much easier." Skateboards and Rollerblades come out of the closet when the weather is decent. For most Quad residents, however, biking provides the most convenient and accessible mode of alternative transportation (if the least skirt-friendly). Significantly faster than walking, biking doesn't require a schedule or any Shuttleboy savvy. And although pitfalls include rampant campus bike theft and recent legislation prohibiting sidewalk-riding, hordes of Quadlings agree with sophomore Luke E. Stoeckel '01: "I couldn't imagine my life without a bike."
A significantly underappreciated benefit of Quad life is the actual Quadrangle itself. Bordered by the Houses, the field has hosted innumerable frisbee games, outdoor movies and afternoon sunbathers over the years. But the Quad hosts a variety of additional adventurous activities that River dwellers may be unaware of.
When asked about the wacky goings on in the field, Michael S. Bush '99 of Cabot, cites "a lot of streaking," adding "well, maybe that's just me and my roommates." Maybe. But in any case, lore surrounding co-ed naked late-night carousing on the Quad abounds. And while sprinting around in the buck is a cross-seasonal antic, snow football and sprinkler-enhanced lawn sliding are among Quadlings' beloved and more climate-dependent activities. According to Bush, the Quad field has also served as the stomping ground for toga-sporting pre-partiers performing Animal House-esque chants of "Toga!" before the debauchery commenced. Indeed, the Quad-bound can eagerly anticipate access to the biggest, most welcoming tract of playground on Harvard's campus.
An affinity for the physical Quad territory is one distinguishing characteristic of the Quadlings who learn to adore their homeland. John W.M. Moore '01, plans to transfer to Leverett next year and won't really miss the spacious field, while Quad enthusiast Brandon P. Jones '00 disagrees, claiming "it's underappreciated." Jones mentions wiffle ball and frisbee as favorite activities and procrastination techniques.
Paling by comparison, the River's MAC quad is a poor excuse for an adequate stomping ground. Although the field is put to good use, its urban locale results in more broken windows and dented cars than are reported. And though the riverbank provides adequate sunbathing territory, female bikini-top bathers can expect an earful of lewd come-ons from anonymous passing drivers. Overall, the Quad field definitely offers more of a front lawn atmosphere, and is safely out of sight from Memorial Drivers.