While too many Harvard activities require donning a suit and acting 40, two first-years are calling for a return to the days of milk and cookies and tetherball. Mark D. Lurie ’07 and Sara A. Slavin ’07 recently drew up a charter with the following goals: “To revive the lost innocent pleasures of our carefree youths. To combat the nostalgia that grows as old comes upon us. To reach intramural recognition in two years and NCAA recognition in three years.” With it, they initiated Project Fun, a new “recess” club.
In high school, Lurie organized rebellious dodgeball games that flouted school rules; he proudly shares that his best friend from high school is starting a tetherball group at Tufts, and other recess clubs may be starting up at the University of Vermont, MIT and Amherst.
For her part, Slavin fondly recalls the 15-minute recess period every morning in high school. “Sometimes you just need an allotted time to de-stress. Lord knows there’s stress here,” she says. “At Harvard, it’s standard to schedule time for things. We’re just trying to be consistent with the Harvard spirit by scheduling playtime.”
As for the club’s plans, Lurie, Slavin and their crew are pushing for tetherball posts in the Yard or Canaday courtyard. It’s an uphill battle. “There are issues with the historical society,” Lurie says. “There was a five-year fight just to get the poster kiosks up.”
The club recently scored an Undergraduate Council grant to accomplish their plans to make dodge balls, waffle balls and street chalk available to undergraduates. Project Fun will also sponsor a snacktime, which Lurie says could be milk and cookies, the former ideally contained in authentic, elementary school-style cartons.
They’ve also designed t-shirts with balls on the back, along with the words “Kicking it old school.”
“This works on many levels,” says Slavin.
Of course, Project Fun shares a certain paradox with the new crop of organizations promoting spontaneous social life. “We’re institutionalizing recess, which should be just a pickup game or something,” Lurie admits. Still, he says, “You gotta do what you gotta do. Desperate times call for desperate measures.”