More than most places, college campuses typically teem with alcohol and other illicit substances. And Ivy Leagues like Harvard are not the exception. Clandestine behavior nestles its way into our dorms and campuses. Students looking for a social lubricant over the weekend or a mental intoxicant after a day’s stress can find it at Harvard. But, this does not change the fact that even under the influence of simpler substances, students with histories of family dependency or addiction must rationalize their reluctance towards substance use, especially in social settings.
Thomas Nagel, an American philosopher, has coined the idea of a “view from nowhere.” In short, the trouble with existential objectivity is that you can never get to an objective viewpoint. To do this, you would need to get to a view from nowhere, separate from your existence.
We are left with memories and feelings of how a place made us feel, how a certain time in our lives made us ache or rejoice. The Houses at Harvard are so instilled within our memories of this place — this old, enduring institution — as they touch us so deeply and for a long time. It is in this way that you find the true Harvard experience: strangers becoming friends, experiences later becoming memories, memories becoming nostalgia.
At the core of many of these altruistic advertisements is the same motive that has always been there: the desire to convince more buyers to buy more products so that the company can make more money, regardless of impact. So, while it’s encouraging to see big corporations setting new standards for everything from carbon reduction to reductions in packaging, I still can’t seem to find peace in my holiday gift shopping this year.
There’s a center of gravity between the extreme ends of the social interaction spectrum: outgoing, enthusiastic Jupiter, and aloof, skeptical Saturn. It’s different for everyone, but you’ll find it because it all comes from you, written in the stars from your birth. Take it easy. Friendships at Harvard are hard to navigate. But you have the map to the treasure right there, inside of you.
Together, Texas and Harvard football exemplify the two extremes of social change. Change requires a marriage of the two, for just listening to a person and refusing to act leads to stagnation, but just attacking a system without the grounding direction of those who are affected leads to performative activism.
The loss of a loved one is unfathomable. It has the capacity to psychologically, socially, academically, and physically alter an individual. On campus, Harvard students without this traumatic grief must understand the irregular moments of sadness, anger, and numbness that students who have complex grief face.
Something I have learned from many people who hire me as a photographer is that most people in modern times, respect photographers for knowing what is worth photographing. The role of a photographer is not simply to capture an image. Instead, one must notice the lighting, the background, the camera settings, the subject(s), and a milieu of other factors.
Reading memoirs of others, and in that process beginning to think about how we’d craft a memoir of our own, brings out those fondest, most formative memories that find a way to stand the test of time. Like the narrative structure of many memoirs, our lives aren’t always experienced chronologically. The salient, beautiful moments stand out, and we often glance back towards them as we move forwards. Where may these memories lie for you?
Aging of the body does not connote aging of the spirit. With the decline of the earthly vices and the responsibilities that often accompany those younger years, the spirit is finally given room to expand. Without the constriction imposed by the duties inherent to being young, a person can do away with the world’s judgment of them and, more importantly, expectation for them. Freedom during aging comes in having the wisdom to give more worth to the increased spiritual strength than to the decreased physical ability that accompanies those years.
Harvard created its own problem. A language requirement would be a lot simpler if students were required to come into the College with a solid grasp of a language. Then, Harvard would know that whoever enrolls will only require two or four semesters, whatever language it may be, until she has not only the exposure to a language, but skill.
As a community, we must unlearn the prioritization of empathy and instead, learn to center a deep appreciation for marginalized people and their autonomy. All political projects should start from this point, centering the most oppressed among us as the greatest agents of change because they understand the systems of oppression that enshackle them. After all, they are the only people who truly know what it feels like to deal with them.
I sometimes feel like a pantomime going about the motions of a Harvard student day in and day out. I stick with the status quo so tightly that it slips my mind to ever make time for myself. I believe it’s important for all of us to internalize the potentially suffocating nature of a college environment and, more than that, the necessity to periodically step away from it. Some days, it is in fact more beneficial to step away from our screens than to crank out another hour in front of our iPads.
You will suffer sucky breakups. But through all of them, you remain worthy of love — no matter how complicated your Venus situation is. As the stars spin in the sky, eventually, someone is born under a configuration that clicks with your own Venus. By pure number-crunching alone, there is someone out there for you.
College is a time of transition, of transformation, and while we should be figuring out who we are and who we want to be, we must also remember who we have been and where we come from. I will always untangle my necklaces with care, with gentle fingers and delicate intention, and I will always elongate the “a” in my favorite word “y’all."
From networking to forming new connections to making new friends to simply finding affinity groups and outlets for side-passions, studies show that social integration for FGLI students is difficult, which makes sense considering how interconnected finances and sociability can be. Since closeness arises somewhat out of a sense of shared experience, it is often harder for low-income students to feel like they can connect with a large portion of Harvard’s student body; a large portion of which does not necessarily share the same financial worry.
The motivation for this kind of study is the awe and wonder that can be felt standing at the edge of my river. Or the feeling of amazement when you complete a math proof. Or when you finish a breathtaking novel. There is not a set list of forms of Nature study. You will not find it as an addendum to your university’s course of study listing.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia, in all their differences, shared a respect and appreciation for the institution and the people they so purposefully and dutifully served. They believed, unequivocally, in the power of their ideas, their voice, and their words. In that judgment, I concur without reservation.
Moments in life do not come and then taunt you from the past; they come, ingrain themselves in your being, and integrate into your essence. From that time on, you carry them with you as you continue on. In this way, there doesn’t need to be departures as we currently know them and it makes me think that a life full of goodbyes might be a life well-lived.
We have to aspire first and foremost to be good. A legacy is ultimately meaningless. We need only to focus on being as kind, grateful, and humble as we can in our own lives. Social justice does not matter without individual justice. It is easy to shout about how other people need to change and other people need to do things, but the only way we can actually effectuate change is through embodying it ourselves. Through doing good and modeling virtue for others we can start to create a more just society.