Dear Freshmen: Virtual Traditions

By Emily H. Nguyen

Kind of like how nobody remembers hearing “Mr. Brightside” for the first time, Harvard students seem to just somehow know the three unofficial graduation requirements. Unfortunately, all three are kind of (read: definitely) not compatible with current on-campus restrictions/remote learning life. Read on for ways to check off the time-honored bucket list in a coronavirus world.

The Scream

Nothing like a twice-yearly nude stampede to liven up Harvard Yard! In the old days, stressed students would sprint the Yard while screaming the anxiety away in a pre-Finals Week cathartic ritual known as Primal Scream. It’s kind of hard to imagine a socially-distant version of the Scream, but the traditions demand completion. It’s time to channel your inner cryptid and streak through the night in the streets of your choice. 2020 is weird enough already, so the chances that you’ll get questioned are probably pretty low, but that being said, stay in line with local policies regarding nudity, and keep everything consensual. And, if you wear a mask, it does double-duty as a coronavirus precaution and disguise!

The Statue

John Harvard’s suspiciously shiny foot has been looking pretty lonely since March. Unfortunately, the Statue’s tradition isn’t the most…considerate…of public health, even in non-pandemic conditions. Since we can’t advocate for public urination (it’s illegal in every state), we encourage you to find more sanitary ways to interact with J. Harv’s foot (an offering of hand sanitizer for the still clueless tourists? Mistletoe hung from the foot?). Whatever you do, just try to keep bodily fluids out of it.

The Stacks

Not gonna lie, the tradition of getting steamy in the depths of Widener is going to be pretty hard to recreate when the iconic library is closed. Not to mention that there’s really not a way to socially-distance during this tradition — but you can keep your mask on and follow NYC’s advice in “getting creative” with positions (or keeping it a solo act). If you’re determined to ~satisfy~ this requirement, try recreating the crypt-like atmosphere of Widener by spreading a fine layer of dust on every surface, blacking out all sources of light, and putting on an hour of page turning and writing ASMR.

...Or Just Wait It Out

Honestly, not many people check every box their first year (if at all!). Consider a global pandemic your permission to procrastinate on the Big Three and wait it out. You’ve got a lot of years for things to calm down and really get a shot at the full experience, and if we’re still living in this reality by your senior year, then you’re in the same spot as before.

However you choose to tackle (or not tackle) the traditions, be safe! No amount of Harvard pseudo-clout is worth getting or spreading the virus. That said, get creative and go ham.

Flyby BlogFlyby CampusFlyby FrontFeatures and SeriesCoronavirus

Harvard Today

The latest in your inbox.

Sign Up

Follow Flyby online.