The Muddy Pond: How the Arnold Arboretum’s Refuse Drowned Five Children

The Arboretum’s underbelly, the South Street tract, became its dumping ground — an area decidedly part of the Arboretum but distinct in purpose: it was the park for poor kids, filled with the refuse of the rich. When that refuse was all they had to play with, it turned deadly — decade after decade — while the institution seemed to close its eyes.

Volume XXXII, Issue XII

Dear Reader, Welcome back! After nearly three semesters away, FM is back to in-person meetings, reporting, editing sessions. But most importantly, and regardless of our physical presence on Harvard’s campus, we missed you over the summer and are thrilled to bring you our first issue of the semester. This week we have two thought-provoking conversations with leading scientists of human emotions, brains, and psychology. DCB and HL profile the work of Lisa Feldman Barrett, who has revolutionized how psychologists and neuroscientists conceptualize “feelings.” In the other profile, TS talks to Susan D. Block, a professor of psychosocial oncology and palliative care who, in the middle of teaching a freshman seminar on caring for patients with severe illness, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer — which had repercussions for her outlook on life, work, and teaching. On the lighter side, MVE offers a levity about a fictional character whose adherence to Covid protocols will put the most hygienic reader to shame. And MSB has a moving endpaper about growing up in her forced time away from her home in India during the pandemic. HNL and SJL ground the issue with a tour de force of archival research, reporting, and writing: A meticulous scrutiny about the “Muddy Pond,” a tract of wetland in Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum in which several children drowned over the course of two decades, possibly due to the University’s neglect and dumping of waste and garbage byproduct from the Arboretum. It is a story about institutional responsibility, about activism, and above all a story that questions who Harvard has and has not deemed worthy of being taken seriously and treated with dignity. With that, we sign off — enjoy this issue, a small but very mighty start to the fall. Love, MNW + OGO

Muddy Pond Protest

Students for a Democratic Society members tail and shout at Sargeant Kennedy ’28, the Harvard Corporation secretary, through Harvard Yard. Ira D. Helfand ’71 is pictured holding a bullhorn.

Muddy Pond Demonstration 1

A handbill distributed by the Students for a Democratic Society which advertised a march on campus demanding Harvard fill in Muddy Pond. SDS members were convinced that the courts would not otherwise find the University liable to fill it in.

The Rise and Fall of David Kane

The discovery of Kane’s involvement with the racist blog and the effect it had on students is indicative of the perils of allowing academic freedom to spill over into hate speech: On EphBlog, ‘Field’ would often make charts and graphs to legitimate his racist claims.


For our final issue, we have selected the theme “falter” — and everything the term carries with it: To start and hesitate. To fall short. To recover; to reimagine.

Volume XXXII, Issue XI

The past year has been one of tumult, filled with determination and false starts; redoubled efforts and hesitation; tear- and joy- filled phone and Zoom calls filling the physical and emotional gaps of this pandemic — often many hours longer than would otherwise be necessary, but never long enough; shattering loss, and grief, and outrage at the violence so many are subjected to every day, the virus stripping bare inequities from police brutality to economic precarity to plain neglect; and, in the face of that subjugation, magical moments of outrage and movement and love. So for our final issue, we have selected the theme “falter” — and everything the term carries with it: To dream, and plan, and set out. To stop, be blocked, or get lost along the way. To lose or abandon hope; and recognizing that which is false. Leaning and providing support. Reflection: A change in directions, perhaps a circling back. And, when and if possible, to recover. Or, if preferable, to reimagine.

Shelter Skelter

Councilor Quinton Y. Zondervan points out that an end to the pandemic could come with a surge in homelessness, as the eviction moratorium expires. “There’s going to be a wave of evictions, of people who couldn’t afford to pay their rent. It’s a horrible disaster waiting to happen,” he says. “[It will] disproportionately impact Black and Brown community members ... We can’t go back to normal,” he adds. “We have to [do] better, because normal was unjust.”

Four Stories, Four Harvard Workers

In the wake of Harvard reducing idled workers' pay to 70 percent during the pandemic, we followed four Harvard employees over the course of three months, conducting interviews on a weekly basis. These four individuals shared their lives with us, and although financial challenges and the pandemic have touched each of them, the pay cut is far from the only reason why these stories need telling.

Volume XXXII, Issue X

Dear reader, It’s hard to believe this is our last regular issue of the semester — hopefully, the last regular issue we publish in a virtual production cycle (knock on wood!). Through waxing and waning energy and Zoom fatigue, our staff’s content has not wavered. This week, we are excited to bring you: Three lovely conversations: AVM talks to Donna Leet about a non-Covid-19 vaccine that may be just as exciting — potentially, for cancer. GJP talks to Pfoho building manager Mario León about his decade-plus at Harvard and now famous Instagram. DCB profiles William Tsutsui ’85, a Harvard professor and among the world’s leading Godzilla scholars. SPM and a series of other writers compile 36 absurd questions asked of students in admissions interviews at elite colleges — guess which are real, and which are not! KNR explores how so many Americans (and Canadians) idealize Canada, and the historic and ongoing power dynamics and inequities that obfuscates. And CHG, in a caring, funny, and thought-provoking endpaper, tells about her own love of cuddling and talks about cuddling with some cuddling experts (we also did not know such a thing existed before, but now we can’t get enough). Two necessary investigative pieces, both of which the writers have been working on for months now, ground this issue: In our cover story, CJC, MX, and SSL profile four Harvard workers — a project that began as a way to profile and lend a human face to those affected by a 30% pandemic-time pay cut to idled workers at the University, but evolved into a recognition that such a starting premise was false. These four stories — involving not just Harvard but baking, painting, tattoos, entrepreneurship, family, faith — need telling regardless of the pay cut, regardless of the pandemic. This magazine profiles fifteen interesting seniors each December, but these stories matter just as much. Give them the love and care they deserve. And in another scrutiny, TMB and JDRL spend weeks diving into the pervasive homelessness in Cambridge and how the pandemic has affected the lives of the unhoused. They also speak with advocates, elected officials, and many more — painting a nuanced picture of a problem the pandemic has brought into sharp focus but which always existed, and the heated and complex debates that go into trying to work out solutions. Take care these last few weeks of the semester. With love, OGO + MNW

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