Editors' Choice

15 Seniors of the Class of 2021

When they were first admitted, the members of the Class of 2021 made up one of the most diverse classes in Harvard’s history. The COVID-19 pandemic has spread them across the world — and challenged the notion of a singular “Harvard experience.” Today, without campus as an equalizer, the diversity that defined the Class of 2021 has been cast in a new light. In our final issue of the year, we profile 15 seniors — generated at random — to learn about their circumstances and explore how the pandemic has impacted their lives.

Behind the Bust of W.E.B. Du Bois

The painful contradictions of American history seem to be contained within this bust. What Hancock’s motivations or personal convictions were cannot be known, and perhaps remain the greatest mystery of this story. But it is clear that his role in sculpting both the bust and the monument at Stone Mountain raise a host of vital questions about what it means to commemorate, and how the ways in which we memorialize reflect the values of our society.

A New Fear for Salem

These days, a crowd isn’t just a crowd: It’s a coronavirus outbreak waiting to happen. This is the fear of Salem residents in 2020, especially those who work in the town’s tourism sector.

Into the Elephant's Den

Four years ago, the Harvard Republican Club chose not to endorse Donald Trump, denouncing his “racial slander” as a “threat to the survival of the Republic.” Several weeks ago, the same club released a very different decision, not only endorsing the President but describing his policies as leading to “the most prosperous and safe lives for Black Americans.” So, what changed? Exploring a central group chat described as a “lion’s den,” a previous election characterized by “Harvard snakery to the millionth degree,” and the experience of two women on the club’s board, The Crimson dug into the factors behind the club’s controversial reversal.

The Pandemic-Era Allure of Productivity YouTube

This is how, in the early phases of the pandemic, I stumble upon the productivity side of YouTube. Over the last seven months, I have somehow found myself spending more time watching videos that tell me how to optimize my life — how to take notes, stack habits, sleep better, focus on work — than ever before.

A Theatre for One (or Fourteen More)

The Brattle Theatre, housed in a 130-year-old red brick building in Harvard Square, has been operating as a movie theatre since 1953. Now, as COVID-19 casts doubt on the future of the cinema industry, the Brattle Theatre is working to re-imagine what a theater can be.

The Case for RepHAIRations Hair Shop

Mangcu, Adams, and Bailey grew increasingly frustrated with the lack of diverse hair care products in Arlington and Cambridge. Enter RepHAIRations, which opened its doors in Arlington on June 19 — Juneteenth.

Four First Steps for a Better Editorial Board

Both our impact — like citations in University decisions and national publications — and our mistakes suggest that our community deserves a board that is receptive to the breadth of perspectives on our campus as well as transparent about who we are.

Dismissals and Disparity: Racial Inequity in Harvard’s Biostatistics Department

We must identify and dispose of practices that create disadvantages for underrepresented minority students and move towards institutionalizing racial equality in graduate programs. Minority students are counting on it.

A Springtime Storm

Until this year, the spring of 1970 appears to be the only semester in Harvard’s history during which the College offered a schoolwide pass-fail option. Now, the spring 2020 semester has become the second. The circumstances surrounding each decision, however, are more different than they are similar.

Locked and Loaded Against COVID-19

“I think a lot of this has to do with a fear of the indeterminacy and the effect this pandemic will have on civil society,” says  Caroline Light, a Harvard senior lecturer on studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality whose research focuses largely on Americans’ relationship to lethal self-defense. Spikes in civil gun purchases often accompany moments of uncertainty or instability, such as periods of economic distress or widespread layoffs, Light explains. “As we see the social capacities of the government eroding, we see more and more people asking this question of, ‘How am I going to survive?’”

Mornings at Murphy's

Jen took her coffee with milk and one Sweet’N Low, iced in the summer. I handed her the pink packet, grabbing two Equals for Bruce before rushing to the donut rack for his glazed jelly stick and ice water with a plastic straw. Will took his coffee black with two Splenda and George usually asked for a milkshake, but only if Suzy was working (which she usually was). If not, he’d have a coffee and a bagel with extra cream cheese or a hot dog with raw onions, not grilled. I’d hand Lucy, a nurse practitioner, her cinnamon twist and cup of tea just in time to hear her chide George for his order — after all, he recently suffered a stroke. I identified my regulars by their orders long before I learned their names. They called me “Red” before they learned mine.

A Waiting Space

This is a CultureHouse “third space,” a place “between home and work to hang out, meet people, create, share skills, and learn,” its website states. Started in 2017, CultureHouse aims to “increase livability and joy in cities,” by designing free-to-use, public infrastructure projects that leverage vacant urban spaces, founder Aaron B. Greiner explains. The Harvard Square location is one of two temporary CultureHouse pop-ups in Cambridge; the other is in Kendall Square.

You Don't Have to Go Home, But You Can't Stay Here

The parties that happened in those last five days were like corrupted versions of normal college parties. They were necessarily more debaucherous than usual, but more than that, the regular components of a party now felt discordant. The people, locations, and drinks were all the same. But as partying mutated into a four-day-long hangover, there was no distinction between a party and daily life. People spoke bluntly in a mimicry of normal, tipsy party behavior, but now they did so because nothing seemed to matter. If a conversation turned awkward or if flirtation was poorly received, there was no need to blame it on the alcohol or the atmosphere — no one would see each other for months, or maybe ever again.

Shopping for Scrubs and Other Traces of Normalcy

I’ve always been vaguely aware that my mom is an infectious disease doctor. There were little clues — medical jargon over dinner, horror stories about patients used to scare me into healthy eating, a skin rash-themed wall calendar — but on the whole, I simply thought of her as my mom, and beyond that, just perpetually busy. Now, though, her profession is not just unignorable — it’s inseparable from her identity as my mom, from her very existence.

Where's Home?

I was running along the Charles when I first wrote the essay you are reading in my head. At first, I thought I’d touch on how having grown up as a military child influences the way I perceive the world. I imagined sharing anecdotes of driving away from a city I loved and watching it disappear in the rearview mirror, or how I learned to use the cardboard boxes as sleds in a neighborhood-wide game. But that piece was written before COVID-19 began to wreak havoc across the globe. It was the piece I had in mind before we were notified of the University’s decision to send us home, for our safety and the safety of others.

15 Seconds of Fame

Chiang’s content highlights some of the more comical ways Harvard chooses to spend its endowment: Specifically, Chiang has garnered followers by creating videos about the vast selection of off-brand cereal in the dining halls and the mold that was growing in his dorm room in Eliot House.

(Insert Name Here)

I hear hastily stifled giggles and feel my cheeks flush with shame as the class turns towards me. I am suddenly aware that I have labeled myself as different from the Sarahs and the Charlottes and the Emilys — that I have labeled myself wrongly.

Waves of Asian America

It is a trope in popular and academic writing alike to say that the absence of a precise definition of “Asian America” is what binds the identity together — that Asian Americans lack not only a literal common language, but also a common “language” in terms of a unifying ideology through which we can better understand each other.

Contemporary Romance: Standoffish

It didn’t take me long after that to realize something had changed. Platonic touch had been something out of my grasp before, something that I welcomed at the moment it happened; now, it was something that I actively avoided.

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