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If Harvard students had heeded the advice in my last column, they would be aware of the fact that the world is now coming down around our ears. The other day, while watching the completely non-partisan and unbiased Fox News Network, I was treated to several stories on rioting, civil unrest, and generalized chaos. The languages, skin tones, and political backgrounds of the participants all changed, but burning cars, Molotov cocktails, and swarms of plastic-shielded riot police provided enough continuity for even the most unschooled to make the connection: In more than a few countries, things are bad and people are really angry about it.
Even the most serious newshounds among us, however, need a break from this sort of coverage, as it is capable of wearing down nerves and producing a real urge to kill more rapidly than a Fergie song. And since “London Bridge” will likely continue to haunt student playlists, I would like to draw people’s attention to a local situation that is ruining the environment, breeding enmity amongst students, and destroying what remains of Harvard’s social capital.
I refer, of course, to student group advertising in front of the Science Center.
The process which I refer to is complicated and varied enough to strain my government-department trained mind. As best I can gauge, though, it has three primary components, arranged in ascending order of importance:
1) Loud dance music
2) Small, cheaply printed flyers
3) Awkward dancing
The problem with the first criteriaon isn’t the fact that music is being played, or even the fact that said music is being played at a loud volume. I, like all human beings, enjoy music. Sometimes I even like to listen to music at an appreciable volume and “rock out.” No, the problem is not the idea of music, but the fact that the songs chosen are, inevitably, the flat-out worst songs possible. Walking to CGIS from the yard and being forced to listen to Punjabi MCs for five straight minutes? What about being forced to listen to “Don’t Break My Heart” while calmly strolling over to Fly-By? Arguments in favor of waterboarding appear far more logical after such treatment.
Second, while those little advertising flyers seem so harmless, they are in fact doing grave damage to the environment. Yes, as a conservative, I had to swear an oath on a Bible printed on the skin of silver-backed gorillas and inked with the blood of several dozen baby sea otters, but a good columnist knows his audience, and many of you think “environmental issues” are important. Think for a second then, Harvard: How many hundreds of trees are ruthlessly pulped in order to print flyers whose sole purpose is to make the roughly thirty foot trip from the paved area in front of the Science Center to the trash receptacles just inside the front door? Since on most days the trash bins are overflowing with recently-acquired flyers, I would guess that the number is not insignificant.
My gripes with the third requisite component of student promotion at the Science Center are the most substantive and the most pressing. As everyone knows, and as one of my fellow columnists illuminated just the other week, Harvard is a very awkward place. Given the requirements for admission to a place as competitive as this one, I don’t think this is going to change anytime soon.
However, I can think of no greater situation in which Harvard students willfully, and knowingly, perpetuate awkwardness than when they dance in front of the Science Center. One recent promotion for an event, which shall remain nameless so as not to embarrass anyone, struck me as so heartrendingly awful that I seriously considered going up and giving the group ten bucks on the condition that they immediately cease.
Please note, oh offended people, that I do not offer this criticism as any sort of professional, or even vaguely competent, dancer. I am awful. However, I know that I am awful and never pretend otherwise, which is more than I can say for members of many different clubs on campus.
And to prove that I am not criticizing for the sake of criticizing, let me offer some concrete and practical solutions. The following steps, if taken, should adequately address the current situation:
1) Offer free candy or other nourishment. People might not remember what you are advertising, but they’ll be happy and well fed.
2) Put up a large projection screen and play Jessica Simpson videos with the audio low. In fact, don’t even hook up the audio; the videos alone will be a welcome change.
3) Give people money.
If these steps are too drastic, then please––people responsible for event promotion––at least stop the dancing. Seriously. This isn’t a joke, and it most definitely isn’t sarcasm. Think of the health and welfare of your fellow students, think of how many more people might show up if they didn’t associate your event with “awkward,” or think of the practical benefits of not publicly demeaning yourself. Whatever motivation is best, follow through on it and, together, we can make the area in front of the Science Center the best wind-swept concrete wasteland in the Ivy League.
Mark A. Adomanis ’07 is a government concentrator in Eliot House. His column appears on alternate Thursdays.
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