After the Fact
Indeed, for this column, which I’ve been writing off and on since Sept. 2016, I’ve found that the sub-headline usually captures 90 percent of an article’s point. The 1,000-odd words that follow dress it up in examples and statistics, wasting your time, dear reader, and mine. With so many topics to talk about at Harvard and beyond, why should we bother? If Michel de Montaigne could write one 60-page essay about death, doctors, defecating, and seemingly any other topic that occurred to him, extensively quoting classical writers and rarely bothering to segue, why can’t my own column be a series of loosely connected hot takes until I run out of space? Montaigne couldn’t even use hyperlinks. So let’s get started.
In what might be called a controlled panic, I told my classmates about this dread, and the sense that I had squandered my summer and my academic opportunities at Harvard and any shot at an academic career. My classmates gave me the obvious advice: Change topics. But it was already October. I had spent much of the summer and the semester to date reading about New York’s highways. The thesis prospectus was due the following week. What would I even write about?
In order to see the depths of the corruption and evil that the “migrant caravan” episode has revealed in the Republican Party, you have to instead start at the beginning.
Like many students at the College, I recently received an email from my (wonderful) resident dean letting my House know that selling our tickets to the Harvard-Yale football game to other students violates the Athletic Department’s policy. The Winthrop House resident dean reportedly threatened to refer to the Office of Academic Integrity and Student Conduct anyone who attempts to sell their ticket — an especially common practice this year, when “The Game” will be at relatively faraway Fenway Park, which, unlike Harvard Stadium, enforces strict seating rules.
When Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jay Gonzalez proposed a tax on large university endowments in a Harvard Square speech last month, he set off a dispute within this editorial section. The Editorial Board (of which I, a mere columnist, am not a member) voted to condemn the tax as a “new attack on Harvard [and] higher ed.” In a dissenting opinion, three board members argued that Harvard’s high revenues mean the tax would have “little effect” on Harvard. Never mind the math: At $500 million, the tax would have taken over 10 percent of the university’s operating expenses of $4.9 billion for 2017. (And if Harvard would barely notice $500 million, why would it better help Massachusetts, whose yearly expenditures approach $42 billion?)