Last Friday, Harvard welcomed British pop star Jessie J to Harvard’s yearly spring concert, Yardfest. The contrast between the excitement surrounding Yardfest and an average Harvard weekend is noteworthy. Even as many of us are sinking under the weight of papers, problem sets, and final projects—and dreading the exams that are on the horizon—we as a community still found the time and energy to go out and celebrate.
Why isn’t it always like that?
It is easy and altogether too frequent for our balance between work and fun to become skewed here, and for social events to become—either by accident or design—exclusive and closed to certain members of the community. Yardfest is, by nature, an event that exists for all of Harvard, and thus it ought to serve as a model for improvements to Harvard’s social scene. It is an event that is open to all, exemplified by its commendable of support of student musician groups, alongside more established acts. While ordinarily, social life at Harvard is divided, by house, by club membership, or sometimes by lack of physical accessibility, Yardfest is one of the few opportunities every year when we as a community have an opportunity to celebrate and have fun together with no exceptions. The only barrier to entry is a Harvard ID; the only club membership required is the one we have all received.
Events like Yardfest, or the Harvard-Yale game—the other annual occasion of campus-wide revelry—serve both as a means of unifying the entire student body and as a symbol of what we as a community are missing when we divide ourselves into smaller, more exclusive units. There is an argument to be made that we appreciate these events more because of the lack of frequency, but it misses the point: It is sad that we need either a British pop star giving us a pep talk or a common enemy in the form of Yale to truly come together as a community.
It is vitally important, then, that we not wait for these events to come to us; rather, we should seek them out, create them ourselves, and build a community not based on interests, club membership, or house affiliation—a community that really reflects Harvard. We have seen that we are capable of that at Yardfest, at Harvard-Yale, and at a handful of other Harvard-wide events. But otherwise, we tend to fall into a comfortable routine, spending time within a set of a narrow boundaries—with our blockmates, at stein clubs, or among members of the same teams or clubs. There can be no doubt that the workload here—academically, athletically, and otherwise—can be burdensome, but the examples of Yardfest and The Game show that we are able to put all that aside every once in a while. We ought to do that more often.
In a way, it is perhaps fortunate that Yardfest and Visitas happened over the same weekend this year; those pre-frosh who choose to attend Harvard will have the opportunity to help affect such change on Harvard’s campus. We hope that current students will do the same.
Bring Journey to YardfestIt all boils down to the fact that if we continue to aim for popular, new artists, we’ll never match up to the lineups at other schools. Instead of trying to compete with other spring festivals, we should make Yardfest a new concert genre unto its own.
Roving Reporter: Battle for YardfestThe Crimson's roving reporter takes on the Cambridge Queen's Head Pub on Friday night as five Harvard bands battle for a slot at this year's Yardfest.
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