As undergraduates excavate Harvard Yard to dig up the roots of the College’s past, there is no time like the present to examine the Harvard’s history. In four centuries, much has changed. And yet, though tomato basil ravioli soup has waxed and male-only Puritan minister training has waned, one thing has remained the constant since Harvard’s inception: the University’s penchant for news-making scandal. Here are a few gems from the past fifty years of Harvard’s long and illustrious history:
2013 - The Great Quiz Bowl Defeat
Just last year, the National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT) revealed that four quiz bowl competitors had improperly, and in strict violation of tournament rules, accessed a website that contained tournament questions. Andy Watkins, the Harvard student who was caught with his hand in the cookie jar, caused Harvard to rescind its three previous and consecutive championship titles. Titles that no one knew that the school possessed. Dang it, Andy.
2007 - So it’s Not True that You’re a Published Author, Got a Perfect SAT score, and Attended MIT?
In 2007, Harvard College admitted Adam Wheeler, an ostensible graduate of Phillips Andover and former MIT student. His application must have glowed. Perfect SAT. Can speak multiple languages. Published author. Or not. Adam Wheeler, if that is even his real name, had falsified his entire identity and long list of credentials to get into Harvard. He might have gotten away with it, too, until his con scheme was discovered when he tried to apply for the Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships under false information. Last we heard, he was indicted on twenty charges ranging from identity fraud to forgery.
1990s - Harvard and Mother Russia.
In the midst of the grunge of the 90s, Harvard sent some of its best and brightest minds overseas to bring capitalism to the Soviet Union. However, instead of bringing Russia’s economy up to speed, the team ended up having a decidedly different effect. In 2006, Harvard and Harvard economics professor Andrei Schleifer agreed to pay $31 million to settle a lawsuit brought about by the US government. Charges: breach of contract and, for Schleifer and an associate, conspiracy to defraud the government of the United States. Impressive.
1971 - “Love Story” wins an Oscar and Five Golden Globes.
A trust-fund boy with daddy issues finds himself in love with a plebian. It’s only amusing when The Crimson Key Society moderates the screening. The scandal lies in the fact that, between the delayed shots of fake blood pouring from hokey wounds, and aggressively mediocre acting, this solidly B-rated movie won awards, including an Oscar for Best Original Score and Golden Globes for Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay.
1964 - Sex and Sexy Scandal.
Now that Harvard has moved far from its Puritan past, it’s hard to imagine the world of an “open door and one foot on the floor” policy. The leaders of the all-male Harvard College implemented this policy to curb undergraduate hanky panky during parietals, the time in which Harvard men could entertain Radcliffe women in their rooms. Parietals were intended to be a time for men and women to talk together in a quiet, sensible way. It shocked officials that, in fact, parietals were being used for such illicit actions. Guess having one foot on the floor wasn’t stopping anyone.