The humanities must be studied for their own sake, not as shells of what they once were, nor as stepping-stones to something “actually important.” The humanities cannot beat the sciences at their own game, and they shouldn’t try. Each discipline has fundamentally different goals. In order for the humanities to recapture importance we must relitigate the question of materialism. Studying the Humanities is fruitful apart from anything else.
This conception of responsibility also frees perpetrators from the need for self-resentment, which isn’t actually productive or helpful. We can be kind to ourselves and others while still holding each other responsible and not decentering those harmed.
Connecting with others over meals informs not only much of the Harvard experience, but much of the human experience. Everyone deserves to have nutritious and easily accessible food available to them, enabling them to better integrate into the communities they are a part of.
If we wish to welcome individuals outside of our niche spheres of social categorization, we must first learn to be comfortable with our own identities, as complex as they may be. Once we can accept that diversity goes beyond a handful of shades — that part of diversity is the wide range of intersecting identities and not just stand-alone affiliations — I believe we will be able to expand our horizons and expose ourselves to incredibly unique perspectives.
Final clubs just scratch the surface of exclusivity at Harvard. The problem with making final clubs the sacrificial lamb in our conversations on Harvard exclusivity is that this lets all other manifestations of our hypercompetitiveness slither under the radar.
Harvard’s investment in private prisons is a willing denigration of its own core values, of supporting the flourishing of all members of the campus community, regardless of background, as well as addressing past inequities to create a strong foundation of inclusion.
It is no easy task to come to oneself. In many ways, we are encouraged by our surroundings to wait for the waiting. As with many things, there is an act of balancing. Sometimes we need to wait, sometimes wait to wait. Sometimes we should be excited to wait for Christmas to come.
To “suck the marrow out of life,” as Thoreau puts it, takes the sacrifice of our favorite distractions, a conscious step away from comfort and a legitimate commitment to interacting with the world as it stands in front of each of us. Perhaps, though, the work it would take is worth it.
History is the acknowledgment of both the past and the future, of the beginning and the end, and therefore of what is eternal. We must situate history as the basis of the humanities, as it articulates the covenant that makes it possible to ask: What does it mean to be human? In studying history we elevate humans from mere accidents in time and space to a group meaningful in and of themselves. We can only understand who we are and what we will be through knowing what we have been, because that which is essential about us does not change.
Next time we happen upon a kitchen in the Quad, may we thank all of the Radcliffe women who were once limited by these spaces. Though there’s no way for us to cook them a meal ourselves and bid them thanks, we can still wish for future generations of women at Harvard to achieve their full potential — untethered by gendered limitations to their abilities to excel.
The dining hall should not be another place where we feel disconnected. It should be a place where both our stomachs and our souls are fed. I hope we can revive the spark in the dining hall and sanctify the reputation of Annenberg that I used to hear so widely about.
Understanding yourself and your self-improvement journey as astrology does help you approach self-improvement with kindness, instead of harsh criticism and reproach of the past. Yes, you were once more awkward or less smart, your Moon overdeveloped and crowding out any sight of a Rising. But that was still you, and there’s nothing wrong with how you used to be.
Harvard is a different world. I am moving further away from my roots, supplanting myself in the University setting — a setting not understood by my family. I live with the appreciative understanding that I will have opportunities to explore places that my family was never able to, constantly juxtaposed with the “what-ifs” of where I would be if I would have picked up a trade or apprenticeship at home and how integral my family would be in that journey.
There are many ants that are unnoticed, yet they are everywhere. Start noticing them. I am not here to tell you what to go find out or what to notice, just that you notice something. And if you are lucky, you’ll find a story worth telling, an inordinate fondness of your own.
If we all wrote down these stories we have, we’d each end up with a memoir of our own. But for now, let’s keep sharing them with each other. Don’t hesitate to discover mentors in the most unlikely of places. Learn from their stories; this sharing is essential to the vitality of our community. Like riding a bike (or skating), some of these stories will stick, and become part of yours — become part of you.
For a moment, imagine holding a pencil. Can you feel its weight? Its straight edges and sharp point? Instead of understanding this possession as an abundant, limitless commodity, is it possible to instead feel the pressure on our fingertips and understand that we’re holding the weight of an entire life that has been gifted to us in the name of creativity?
We must realize that we should feel no shame in struggling or asking for help because learning at your own pace does not make you any less intelligent or worthy. We should feel successful not from competing with their peers but from building community with them through collaboration, inclusion, and compassion.
A shared space is special so long as it is actually shared, actually lived and existed in. Next time you feel the urge to study or want to lose yourself in a labyrinth, go to Widener and feel the presence of those next to you and those before you. May you find community as you get lost in the stacks.
I want to adopt the College’s mission and expose myself to “new ideas, new ways of understanding, and new ways of knowing.” I may not be the smartest person in the room and that’s okay. Instead, I’m aiming to train myself to step away from the constant desire to outrun everyone else and simply focus on sharpening myself.
Look up into the night sky. Even if one star is in the wrong place, there are still millions more that might tell you something meaningful about yourself. Suspend your disbelief. Ignore the over-rational voice in your mind that throws in the towel at the first inconsistency. And run away into the stars with me, into the lovely starry night of you.
What the “Houston to Harvard” mindset taught me is that dismissing the South as intrinsically “bad” is unhelpful. It’s a disposition founded upon convenience and situational truths. I am sick of the North using the South as its scapegoat in order to preserve its progressive image. There is so much more to this conversation than the convenient binary of the South being “bad” and the North being “good.”