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On the night before thousands of Harvard students will journey down to New Haven for the annual Harvard-Yale football game, the College Events Board organized a pep rally to fire up the student body. But oversights and natural obstacles kept the event from going off without a hitch.
For starters, the evening’s special guests—the Harvard football team—did not show.
Approximately 400 students gathered in the Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub to enjoy free clam chowder and hot chocolate while they watched performances from various student groups, leading up to an opportunity to “cheer on the football team,” according to a pre-circulated announcement from organizers.
But to the dismay of many rally-goers, the team did not make its planned appearance.
When Master of Ceremonies Peter D. Davis ’12 announced that the team would not be appearing, many of the attendees promptly left the Pub.
“It’s a little disappointing that the football team didn’t show up for its own pep rally,” said Mariam Braimah ’13, one of the two disc jockeys at the event. “But it was as good as it could be given the circumstances.”
The football team’s absence was not intentional, according to a team member.
“It was a true mistake,” running back Treavor Scales ’13 said. “We felt really bad.”
Scales explained that the team holds a weekly dinner on Thursday evenings, and this week’s dinner, which featured speeches by senior players, ran later into the night than usual, causing the team to miss the rally.
“We had our senior speeches, and they got a little emotional and ran longer than expected,” Scales said.
The inclement weather posed additional problems for rally organizers and drove the festivities indoors into the Pub from Harvard Yard as slated.
The move sent the CEB scrambling to reorganize the event. The difference in stage sizes between venues posed a significant problem for organizers, according to CEB member Michelle Luo ’14. The outdoor stage, on the steps of Memorial Church, is about four times larger than the Pub’s stage.
The cheerleading team was most affected by the change of venue and had to alter its routine drastically.
“Outside is better for us, because we have more space to do crowd-pleasing stunts,” Captain Allyson McGinty ’13 said. “It’s harder for the crowd to be unified because of the way the space is laid out.”
Davis—who hosted the event, joking throughout the evening in between acts—made light of the poor weather during a free moment off-stage.
“Harvard only celebrates football once a year,” Davis said. “It’s good that they got this moment in the sun—well, not in the sun.”
Even with the cramped space and the football team’s absence, many students seemed to enjoy the rally.
“I’m having a good time,” said Aleja A. Jimenez-Jaramillo ’15, who proudly wore a spandex “Crim the Crimson” mascot body suit. “I’m having a hard time closing my mouth in this costume, but other than that I’m fine.”
The Office of Student Life intended for the pep rally to be the culmination of H-Week, a series of events aiming to inspire school spirit.
“We wanted to make sure that as many undergrads as possible had as much fun as possible,” said Kenneth A. Parreno ’11, a fellow for student life at the Office of Student Life. “It’s a time of year when Harvard students, across houses and across years, can come together whether they’re football fans or not.”
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