"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"
You've heard this quote from Mr. Rogers so many times over the past week—over television, the radio, and on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. Surely it would've gotten stale by now if only it weren't so true, and here at Harvard, we've gotten to see firsthand the power of "helpers" throughout the crazy mess that was last week. Flyby thinks they deserve some recognition—so here, in no particular order, is a list of some of our favorite "Harvard Helpers."
1. Everyone who joined the "futon network." For Mark R. Jahnke '13, a Crimson magazine and business editor, last week was measured in blocks. Jahnke ran in the Boston Marathon and was stopped just three blocks away from Bolyston Street when the bombs went off. After the MIT shooting, he tuned into the police scanner. "I heard that shots were fired on 109 Garden Street. That's just two blocks from the Quad," Jahnke said. He immediately sent out emails over the Pforzheimer and Crimson e-mail lists, urging people to stay where they were and arranging for a futon network for students stranded by the River or in the Quad. The network moved to a Google Document, where dozens of students offered up sleeping space. "I don't know how many people made use of it, but I wanted people to have that option. It's a 20 to 30 minute walk between the River and the Quad."
3. #VirtualVisitas tweeters. When Visitas was canceled, Harvard students, administrators, and alumni flocked to Twitter as an alternative venue for reaching out and answering questions from prospective students. Sophia F. Randolph '16, who was the first to use the catchy hashtag on Twitter, said that though she had already decided to attend Harvard when she came to Visitas, the weekend was an important time for her to experience campus culture and meet future classmates. Randolph said she hoped that the Twitter conversations would at least help give prefrosh a sense of that campus culture. "Any taste of that they can get virtually—or visiting at another time—is really important in either making this decision or feeling more comfortable with the decision you've already made," Randolph said.
4. Drew Faust. Lest you forget that our president is an unbelievably classy person, see the letter she penned to the Class of 2017. It may not be a replacement to the advice she hoped to give in person, but its fierce, welcoming warmth succeeds in capturing the best of life at Harvard.
5. The freshmen in Wigglesworth F. Cooped up in his entryway on Friday, Colin J. F. Diersing '16 saw the efforts to move Visitas to Twitter but worried that most high school students wouldn't have Twitter accounts. He and some friends on his floor decided to make a video highlighting life at Harvard, and spent most of Saturday night and Sunday morning filming. "We've gotten a lot of positive feedback—some students messaged us to say they'd committed after watching it," Diersing said. "They probably would've committed anyway, but people seemed to really enjoy the video."