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Celebrating Primal Scream

By The Crimson Staff

It’s always been a little bizarre that on the last night of reading period, people with the most limited of Facebook profiles and most careful of ambitions run around naked in front of all their friends and their cameras. Yet no one regrets it—as boxers and robes are pulled on, you’re surrounded by a sea of flushed exhilarated faces saying, “I can’t believe I did that.”

It’s one of the few events that the entire campus unites around. Three years ago, on a much icier night than last Sunday, a male student tried biking as many laps as possible around the Yard in the same time that others ran one. The bike slipped, there was a moment of collective horror, and then he was back on the bike. In twenty years, people will still be saying, “remember when…?”

Primal Scream may also be one of the few events the entire campus actually attends, or close to it. If they sold tickets, they would go faster than those for the Five-House Formal and probably scalped at a higher rate, too. The attendance rate is rivaled only by that at the Office of Career Services’ introduction to recruiting, which is another thing no one thought they would do until they got here.

This year’s Scream seemed a little more female than in the past. Maybe it was the closure of the Yard gates to anyone without a Harvard ID, which made this year, even more than others, “the year to do it.” Whatever the reason, it was refreshing that Primal Scream wasn’t the usual sausage-fest, and women should keep encouraging each other to bite the bullet and participate. For this event is not about the people who watch but about the people who run. As Theodore Roosevelt, who would have run his own naked lap 130 years ago aptly put it, “the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Harvard doesn’t give out many medals for participation, and indeed this would be an odd one on the wall, but it would still be a big one.

If only people would stop taking pictures.

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EditorialsReading Period