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Scavenger Hunt a Hit With First-Years

By Alexander J. Finerman, Crimson Staff Writer

After a frenzied day of shaved eyebrows, toga-donning and desperate calls to the agent of Conan O’Brien ’85, the first-ever first-year scavenger hunt came to a close Monday night.

Organized by the First Year Social Committee (FYSC), a new House Committee-like organization under the wing of the Undergraduate Council, the contest was created to be a “unifying experience” and to allow the 188 participants to learn more about their environs, committee members said.

“We wanted to bring together the freshman class,” said organizer and council member Matt J. Glazer ’06.

Fellow organizer Caleb J. Merkl ’06, said that the idea originated as a productive way to use the FYSC’s leftover funds.

“We wanted to do something that people would get excited about,” he said.

In its first year, the committee is still feeling its way.

“It took us a while to start things up,” Merkl said, “we spent the first half of the year learning.”

But Merkl said he thought Monday’s event went well.

“It was good participation, we didn’t know what to expect,” he said.

Sixty-nine teams consisting of two or three people signed up to take part in the hunt. They assembled Monday morning at the bottom of the Widener Library steps, where at 10 a.m. FYSC members handed out packets of questions. The groups then scurried off around the area to answer questions and gather various objects for points.

“We wanted to have a good mix of Harvard stuff, Boston stuff, Cambridge stuff, facts and things people would bring back,” Merkl said.

One of the more demanding questions was the opportunity to shave off an eyebrow in exchange for 40 points.

“There are four people walking around now without an eyebrow,” Glazer said with apparent glee.

Other, tamer questions included asking participants to bring back trinkets from a Beacon Hill watering hole made famous by television.

“I think Cheers ran out of coasters,” Glazer said.

Nobody succeeded in the greatest challenge of the day, organizers said. Any team bringing a living, breathing Conan O’Brien to the FYSC’s base in the Straus Common Room by the 5 p.m. deadline would net themselves 10,000 points.

No famous late night hosts turned up, but the organizers still called the day a success.

“Everyone really got into it and had a good time, I think,” Glazer said.

The committee members said that one of the large attractions of the scavenger hunt were the prizes dangled before the participants.

Crimson editors Sean W. Coughlin ’06 and Timothy J. McGinn ’06, along with teammate Matthew D. Bellfy ’06, took first place in the contest, and with it a 32-inch TV, DVD player, VCR and surround sound speakers.

Combination prizes were the theme of the day, as the second place team received a 360-watt stereo system and printer/scanner/copy/fax machine and third place netted a futon. The prize for fourth place was a Red Dragon DVD.

In the final round at the Science Center, the top three teams and a wild card went through a round each of song-guessing and charades, followed by a Final Jeopardy-style event.

“One of the teams brought a cheering section of guys with their shirts off and chest painted screaming for them,” Glazer said.

“It was kind of like a day’s worth of effort was validated, along with my friend’s eyebrow not being there anymore,” Coughlin said.

—Staff writer Alexander J. Finerman can be reached at finerman@fas.harvard.edu.

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