Scrutiny


Volume XXXIII, Issue XX

Dear Reader, Over the past year, we’ve received lots of fan mail from you all. FM has been called “stupendous,” “paradigm-shifting,” “an absolute delight to read,” etcetera, etcetera. So the bar for this end-of-year issue was high — but our writers have surpassed it once again. Indeed, if we can toot our own horn a bit, this issue is a superlative one. And so too are the seniors we profiled in this issue. After trying out many iterations of senior features in the past — Most Interesting, Randomly Generated, and even (regrettably) Hottest — FM is returning to a classic this year: senior superlatives. We asked the Class of 2023 to nominate 15 of their peers for our superlative categories, including Best Dressed, Class Clown, and Most Likely to be President. While each of these seniors has a unique speciality (well, except Most Well-Rounded), all of them were passionate, pretty darn humble, and a pleasure to get to know. Even as we highlight these very accomplished seniors, we still remember what it was like to be a confused freshman, overwhelmed by all the Harvard jargon. How do I look for a “gem”? Is a “comp” based on completion or competition? Why can’t we just call them majors like a normal school? Luckily, HD, MMN, and KT spent the semester compiling an (un)official dictionary of Harvard lingo, tracing the origins and evolution of 15 words and phrases with particular significance. The stories behind these words shed light on the history and culture of our campus, especially the role we students have had in shaping it — from the freshmen arguing whether it’s “the ’Berg” or just “’Berg” to the seniors mourning the loss of shopping week. This is the longest glossy we’ve ever published, the latest we’ve ever stayed up to publish one, and possibly the shiniest to date (you can be the judge of that one). It is also our last. We’ll miss the Monday nights spent debating pitches and lounging on beanbags, the Tuesday evening maestros derailed by Photoshop rabbit holes, the weekend afternoons filled with frenzied editing and Post-its and laughter. Leading this magazine has been the best experience we could’ve asked for. As sad as we are to depart, we could not be more excited to bequeath FM to the toughest, wisest, kindest people we know: AHL and IYG. Going forward, please address your adoring letters to them instead — this next chapter of FM is going to be the best-est. Yours in retirement, SSL & MVE


Volume XXXIII, Issue XIX

Dear FM, Buckle up. This will be a long one. (warning: sappiness ahead) First off, at long, long last, I’m proud to unveil Issue XIX! It’s much belated, but it’s worth the wait — it’s got 21 (count ‘em!) banger articles, and I encourage you to read each and every one. Here’s the rundown. TCK asked Egyptologist Peter Der Manuelian 15 questions. MB and AP wrote about EdEthics, an initiative to promote conversations around moral questions in education. CRR and AMM wrote about Harvard’s soon-to-be-expanded Language Center. VAK explored the “traps” of trap music after attending a discussion with hip hop artist Dee-1. ESK and MMN profiled Jews for Liberation, a new student organization at the Divinity School that seeks to bring politics and spirituality together. NKB and RR dug into the archives to learn about Sarah the Cat, Remy’s more rugged 1930s predecessor. MB retrospected on the bizarre “panty raids” of the mid-20th century — and how Radcliffe students retaliated against underwear-pilfering Harvard men. SPG looked into the newly-founded Harvard Food Systems Initiative and its mission to improve health and sustainability. MJH uncovered the scandalous history of Playboy’s foiled advertising deal with the Harvard Crimson. ESK and RK speculated about who’s on aux at your favorite campus spots. VAK and THK created a practical how-to guide for the bashful ultra-wealthy. NDC and JKL peeled back the curtain on the complex logistics that make Bluebikes run — and why you can never find a spot by the River to dock yours. MG wrote an important scrutling about a discovery in Harvard Square last year which raised a critical question: What exactly happens to an unhoused person if they die, unidentified, in the state of Massachusetts? TCW wrote a sensitive reflection about high school journalism and the pitfalls of censorship. SB wrote about his adventure to the Boston Anarchist Book Fair, as well as a thoughtful inquiry on identity and the power of the Harvard name. SND explored the little-known history behind the Class of 1857 Gate, and also wrote a poignant reflection on her experience as a missionary during the pandemic. CDM penned a nuanced reflection on fiction writing and the existential itchiness of being oneself. And AS dug deep for a powerful reflection on grief, memory, and Harvard’s Legacy of Slavery report. Finally, CJK and MG bring you a deep dive into prison justice advocacy on campus for this issue’s scrutiny. Harvard’s Legacy of Slavery Report mentions the term “mass incarceration” only once — in the 734th footnote —, a lack of attention some activists find disappointing given scholarship on connections between slavery and the carceral state. Many activists believe Harvard should take a more active role in reimagining what the prison system could look like — but they disagree about what form that role should take. CJK and MG deftly weave thorough reporting and precise prose to illuminate activists’ differing visions and the tricky ethical dilemmas they pose. Give it a read! *** And now the sappiness. I’ve been procrastinating this, my final closeout as FM Chair. For the past few weeks, I’ve been telling SSL that it’s too soon to be sappy, that there’s still plenty of work to be done, that the job isn’t over yet. Well, the job is just about over now, and I’m feeling a lot of things — but mostly gratitude. There are far too many people to thank, so here’s a necessarily incomplete list. To NHP and AWDA, for believing in my writing 3.5 years ago and for making FM feel like a place I could someday belong. To MNW and OGO, for deftly steering FM through the storms of the pandemic, and for showing me what leadership looks like. To JH for spearheading FM Radio with dazzling competence and good cheer — I’m jealous that next year’s mag gets to work with you as Multi Chair. To SS, MH, and SCS, for design prowess and for making every Tuesday night fun — I’ll miss you all. To GWO for friendship and charismatic co-comp directing. To the compers, both the 151s and the 152s — thank you for taking a chance on our little magazine. You’ve brought new energy to FM, and I can’t wait to see you grow in the coming years. To MX, for your steadiness and wit. To HRTW, for 3.5 years of laughter, on the timeline and off. To JFA: Thank you for your patience and brightness — I will always look up to you. To SSI: Thank you for your wisdom, humor, and friendship these past years. I admire you more than you know. To AHL and IYG: I can’t imagine a better pair to pass the torch to. Thank you for stepping up to lead — I can’t wait to see the new heights you take this magazine to! To all the execs, outgoing and incoming: thank you for your commitment to bettering this magazine. To RCU, for leading 14p with poise and grace — I mean it! To JGG: Thank you for believing in our content — your keen edits and endless generosity have made our stories bloom. I couldn’t have asked for a better ME to work with, and I will miss our Monday night meetings dearly. To SSL: Word-wrangling wizard. Prodigious prank-puller. Diagrammer to rival John Venn himself. I’ve never met someone who cares so much about the stories we tell and the people who write them — I am truly awed by your ability to balance tenacity and compassion, and this magazine is better because of it. Thank you for a year of late nights, laughter, friendship; it has been the honor of my college experience to learn from you. And to all of FM: Thank you for believing that the stories we tell matter, and for telling them with grace. Above all, thank you for making this magazine my home on campus for the last 3.5 years. I already miss seeing you every Monday night, but I’m comforted knowing that FM’s brightest days are still to come. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m endlessly grateful to have had my fifteen minutes at the helm of this magazine, and I hope you’ll all keep in touch. Sincerely, Maliya


'Termite Justice': Prison Justice Advocacy, Within and Outside Harvard's Gates

Whether Harvard has an obligation to educate students about mass incarceration — and how it should do so — is a question that looms large.


Prisons scrut cover

Whether Harvard has an obligation to educate students about mass incarceration — and how it should do so — is a question that looms large.


Kaia Stern

Kaia Stern is the co-founder and director of the Prison Studies Project, which focuses on offering for-credit, higher education programs that connect college students to people behind bars.


Brit Shrader

Brit G. Shrader '24 is a member of the Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign, a student-led abolitionist campaign which continues to campaign for further transparency surrounding Harvard's investments.


Willie Swett

William "Willie" Swett '22, a student at the New England Conservatory, plays his bass at Suffolk County's Nashua Street Jail as part of the Radcliffe Institute's "Music and Justice" working group.


Music and Justice

As part of the Radcliffe Institute's “Music and Justice” working group, a new semester-long course, Harvard students work with students at the I-Can Academy, an educational program within the jail, to create and perform music.


Volume XXXIII, Issue XVIII

Dear FM, This weekend, we’ll see a matchup of epic proportions: Harvard versus Yale. Turkeys versus Bulldogs. A $200 resale value versus only the slightest inclination to watch a football game. In this week’s scrut, JFA examines a dispute that’s just as contentious as The Game, albeit a lot less promising for our side: Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard. Through on-the-ground reporting from D.C., a fantastic set of interviews featuring the Jay Caspian Kang, and incisive prose, she challenges us to go beyond the #DefendDiversity slogan to consider the larger, weightier fight for reparations that we will lose when we lose affirmative action. In the meantime, there’s plenty of other drama to go around. MJH questioned Cass Sunstein about Dobbs v. Jackson, dogs vs. cats, and The Crimson vs. a semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine. MEE and KIJT interviewed the teams competing on Hare’s Kitchen, a student cooking competition in Leverett House. WSH researched the Freshman Smoker, a long-running annual social that had to be abolished due to unruliness and disorder. ARZ and SND traced the origins of Harvard’s final clubs, the elite spaces within elite spaces that magnified Harvard’s class divide. But some conflicts turned out to not be so conflicting after all. VX attended a conference on the intersections between science, technology, and society. MLFS and CRR reported on the Quad Lab, a seminar that brings the classroom to Cabot House and weaves together histories of race, class, and gender at Harvard. SB and SEW profiled a 51-year-old DJ at WHRB with a passion for both music and philosophy (and a collection of over 55,000 records!). Finally, MHSH wrote a lovely endpaper about how Multicultural London English enables her to code-switch between different dialects and communities. As always, our FM team was unbeatable this week. Thank you to all the execs, who had me fighting back tears during our last meeting!! To SS, SCS, and MH for wrestling with InDesign and JH for struggling through an hour of podcast name ideation. To JGG, who’s currently battling his inner demons while drafting his first endpaper — if you see him around this week, be sure to ask him how it’s going. And to MVE, for tackling 15 seniors, 21 schmoozes, a 39-item pagemaster, and 3 consecutive essays for class. Speaking of which, if you’ll excuse me, it’s back to Sophia vs. her overdue paper. Go Turkeys, SSL & MVE


A Better Case for Affirmative Action

What — and who — is affirmative action really for?


Dropping Out and Cashing In: The Rise of DAOHQ

Lucas Chu and Emmet Halm, Harvard drop-outs and founders of crypto startup DAOHQ, see themselves as part of a new vanguard of anti-institutional entrepreneurs. But have they really distanced themselves from the institutions they critique?


Volume XXXIII, Issue XVII

Dear Reader, Embarrassingly, the number of late issues this semester is high enough that using an excuse as a conceit for my closeout emails is becoming a trope. Instead, I’ve chosen a fresh, guilt-free conceit inspired by the ~crypic~ theme of this issue’s scrut. That’s right: I’ve hidden a secret message in this editor's note. Happy searching. Issue XVII is anchored by a much anticipated scrut by diligent duo TMB and ITM, entitled “Dropping Out and Cashing In: The Rise of DAOHQ.” It chronicles thE story of another duo, Lucas Chu and Emmet Halm, who dropped out of Harvard to found their startup, DAOHQ, which raised $1.3 million in its pre-seed round and counts Mark Cuban among its investors. Lucas and Emmet see themselves as part of a new vanguard of particularly anti-institutional entrepreneurs — but our writers take a critical look at just how far they, and other elite college-adjacent entrepreneurs like them, have really distanced themselves from the institutions they critique. It’s a deeply-reported, Fascinating look into a hugely lucrative subculture — and as billions of dollars pour into the so-called creation of Web3, pointing out its contradictIons couldn’t have higher stakes. SWF talks to Gregory Nagy, who’s been teaching “The Ancient Greek Hero” for nearLy half a century, about Greek mythology and his literal and figurative Achilles heels. MEE and THK find out the wholeSome truth behind those “Need a Friend?” posters. AI and URR talk to psychologist Dr. Deirdre Barrett about the weirdness of dreams, and what she makes of it. YAK and JQY discover the secret to happIness with HKS professor Arthur Brooks. SND and EAG talk to a few undergraduates who are having an unconventional Harvard experience — they’re Married! KG and SM keep the Halloween spirit Flowing (even though it’s Christmas season now, obviously) by speaking to the elusive Adams witches. NDC and CJK cover Project No One Leaves, a coalition of HLS students working with local rEsidents on housing-related issues. CDM and MEW get the scoop behind the newly unVeiled portrait in Adams D-hall: an oil painting of Japanese-American Fred Komatsu, painted by alum William Shen. ACO and RR take us down to Harvard’s little-known Recycling and Surplus Center, where the University’s trash gets a secOnd chance. And BYC turns his signature closeup Lens on campus icon Remy the cat in a gorgeous photo essay accompanied by reported captions by SSL. A trio of stellar retrospections this week: NKB and MTB explore the brief, wondrous tenure of Harvard’s VarSity Mandolin Club. SCC takes a deep dive into how disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes nabbed a spot on HMS’s Board of Fellows. And HD brings to life the rise and fall of The Rag, the radical feminIst magazine you’ve never heard of. AMW and JKW deliver our only levity this week: an iMagined ghost story set in the scariest place of all: the Cabot D-hall. Finally, for this issue’s endpaper, AEP brings us a nuanced reflection on her relationship with Mormonism, and the difficulty of being caught between Family and conviction. As always, plenty of people to thank. To MH, SS, and SCS for glossy designing on top of everything else you do. To JH for podcasting prowess. To SWF for meticulous proofing and for bringing Kong to boost morale. To JGG for somehow proofing our stories before bedtime. To Daylight Savings Time, for the free hour. And to SSL for many, many preschmoozes, and for productive reflection as we prepare to pass the torch. Love, MVE & SSL


Crypto Scrut Cover

Lucas and Emmet's startup, DAOHQ, raised over $1.3 million in its pre-seed fundraising round, and counts Mark Cuban among its investors.


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