Remember back in elementary school (or middle school, depending on which state you’re from) when you first learned about fight or flight? Those two options when faced with a stressful situation seemed like polar opposites, but we’ve always liked to consider Harvard students quite innovative. So here we are. With a response that could easily be considered both fight and flight—pulling a fire alarm.

Fire in Winthrop

Today, Flyby is going to answer a question that has plagued Harvard since whenever fire alarms became a thing. Is pulling a fire alarm fight or flight? Let’s begin.


So if you don’t really use Facebook or speak to other people, the fact that Martin Shkreli came to campus last month might be news to you. Shkreli is infamous for hiking up the price of Daraprim, an HIV/AIDS drug, from $13.50 to $750 per pill. He’s also infamous for competing with the best of the best of internet trolls.

Shkreli was invited to campus to speak by the Harvard Financial Analysts Club, but before his talk could even start, someone pulled a fire alarm. Now let’s examine. Someone decided that pulling a fire alarm would be the best course of action to stop this controversial event. As purely petty people, we can respect the fact that someone wanted Shkreli and attendees to stand out in the rain for 30 minutes. This event alone really racks up the argument for why pulling an alarm is definitely a “fight” method.


Given the number of times that Harvard students have done this during exams, we’re surprised that it’s not included in the “What to do if it’s the night before your exam” section of student study guides. The best part about the fire alarm pulled during the EC1010B exam is that this has happened over and over and over again. We were all taught to leave dangerous situations, but apparently some students have taken this to heart more than others. Sometimes simply zoning out is not enough. Pull a fire alarm and you get to physically leave the exam. A big con of this method though is that a fire alarm is just an alarm. You have to go back eventually.


Fight. The winning aspect of this method is that people aren’t pulling alarms to leave the situation forever. People are just pulling alarms as an ultra-annoying “screw you” to whatever situation that they’re currently in. And even if you don’t like to pull fire alarms, that’s a concept we can all understand.