Spilling the Tea with Samyra
Let’s be real, at this point Harvard feels more like a vague concept than an ~actual real place~, and we have no idea what’s going on 80 percent of the time. With students scattered all across the world, clubs left on their own to figure out what virtual programming even means, and a seemingly endless list of deadlines and Zoom calls from the College, the information is endless and our inbox (or mine at least) is already at 15,000 unread messages and counting.
The confusion may be constant, but Flyby sat down with Samyra C. Miller ’21, our favorite go-to news source (sorry News Board), to spill the tea and tell us how she keeps us all informed and, of course, entertained.
RR: Of course, we have to start with: how does it feel to basically be holding this entire institution on your shoulders with one Instagram story?
SM: Have you seen Riverdale? It feels like I’m one of Archie, Jughead, Bettie, or Veronica who solve all the town’s problems, even though they have all the resources they need to solve the problem, but it seems like only these little children can do the solving. I don’t know which one though — definitely don’t want to be Archie. Kinda hate Archie.
RR: So how did this all actually start? Did you plan to make it a regular thing or did it just happen naturally?
SM: So, I think that I’m petty. When I first started going on rants or posting things that people would respond to that I would then post, it was around my sophomore fall. At first, I was just dragging these orgs that everyone else was afraid to drag, then other people had stuff to say, so I started posting what they had to say about these orgs too. Any of the bad “-ists” or “-isms”... shut it down. I think the summer between my sophomore and junior year, I was doing a lot of posting conversations about stuff and doing polls, and that was really when people started taking a liking to it a lot more.
RR: Did you anticipate it becoming as well-known as it is today?
SM: In life, in general, I don’t like to have high expectations for anything. But I definitely didn’t intend or expect anything to come out of me just either airing people out or spilling some tea or getting other people’s opinions. It was never me like, sitting down at my desk and being like “How will I plan to do this?”
RR: Have you ever talked to admin about your Instagram? Like are they aware of how much students rely on you spreading info?
SM: They’re very happy that students are getting this information — though sometimes they’re like “I wish students would just read their emails.” Like people think I’m the ~knower of all things Harvard~, that I just know stuff, but half the time I just read the emails they send! And then I post the info from the emails. From admin, they have been trying to find a way to centralize things, and I think that they see my Instagram being that place of centralized information, which I think they appreciate, but wish that it could have been a more University-affiliated centralized way. But I know that they see it — some of them follow me, some of them respond to my stories, some of them contribute — some are even the anonymous people that y’all are engaging with and have no clue.
RR: Do you have a favorite discussion you’ve had on your account?
SM: This wasn’t really an actual “discussion,” but the Corona Confessions were so funny. I’m sitting here and I see everything. But the stuff people were telling me… I know so much stuff about so many people from Corona Confessions! For more impactful discussions, I think when we had that talk about colorism, I think a lot of people learned a lot. Any time we talk about final clubs, people always go off but there’s good discourse on either side. Or when Harvard’s decision came out for the spring, that was crazy. The only reason why I went live was because my DMs were blowing up so much… that I just had to go on live and let people talk.
RR: What do you do to de-stress, both in general and especially with social media?
SM: I’ve been doing some singing, watching Netflix (recently I’ve been watching Selling Sunset), talking to friends… I love candles, so sometimes I’ll just light a candle and go on websites to shop for clothes that I’ll literally never buy… kinda therapeutic.
RR: Do you have ideas on how to actually make info more accessible to students?
SM: I think if Harvard got their socials popping, if Harvard got their Twitter popping… any very public, very modern place that students are checking into that isn’t like, “Download the Omni app.” Instead of telling students to meet you somewhere, you need to go meet the students somewhere. Get a little more on Twitter, little more on Instagram, just make it a little more fun and engaging for students instead of just “Here are the deadlines for the week.” If Dean Khurana got on TikTok... Dean Khurana, I need you to get a TikTok, or Instagram Reels. I challenge Dean Khurana, I challenge Dean O’Dair, I challenge John from Annenberg. We would pay attention! Come into our world, we’re not coming to yours. We’re not going to Omni.
RR: Any plans for how you’ll keep this going after you graduate?
SM: So people have DMed me asking, “How are you going to make sure this info is still available when you graduate?” I don’t know! Someone was like “You need to pass the torch” — if anybody wants to do it, be my guest! Alternatively, Harvard could just get popping on Twitter. They just have to make some engaging content, and it’d be crazy! But I’m also down to pass the torch (or the little tea cup).
RR: Best advice you would give first years or other seniors in your year?
SM: Never make permanent decisions for temporary feelings. That’s the first one, which goes for anybody. For first years, I would say to just do what you want. When I came to Harvard, I did whatever I wanted. I used to go scream at the top of the balcony in Annenberg, I used to blast music in the dining hall, just do what you want and be yourself unapologetically. Don’t try to come here and *sssssssss* slither. You don’t have to be one like that. Just be who you want to be and not who someone thinks you should be. That might be cliche, but everything’s cliche for a reason — because it’s correct!
RR: Is there anything else you want other students to know about your account?
SM: What I do isn’t able to be done without people sending me stuff. It’s one thing for me to post stuff, but most of the information I post is from other people. Sure, I am the one posting it and holding the space, but y’all are the ones who contribute to that space! It’s not all on me, everybody does their part. This is a group effort!
*cue We’re All In This Together from High School Musical*