Evan J. Mandery ’89 is a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and the author of “Poison Ivy: How Elite Colleges Divide Us.” “Meritocracy is a double-edged sword,” Mandery says. “If you say that you deserve your advantage, then you do necessarily mean that everyone else deserves their disadvantage.”
Admissions discussions take Harvard’s regime of selectivity for granted, as though it had to remain a zero-sum game. But what if it didn’t have to? What if Harvard could think bigger?
Dear Reader, This time of year is a bit confusing. Temperatures are in the 40s or 50s and the sun is setting at 4:30, but beautiful fall foliage is still around. Students are registering for next semester’s classes while doing midterms for our current classes. We have piles of work to do, but it’s basically Thanksgiving Break and we take a day or two off to go to New Haven, only to lose The Game… But The Game isn’t the only way Yale is ahead of Harvard. In this week’s scrut, NHS and EJS write about Harvard’s undergraduate class size has stayed the same in recent years, while Yale and many other Ivies have expanded. But for people invested in Harvard’s elitism, though, this might be a win — after all, isn’t Harvard’s exclusivity what makes it Harvard? Read the scrut to learn more about why Harvard’s plans for class expansion fell through and ideas that people have for making Harvard more accessible. This week, FM brings you yet another map, but this time we didn’t just choose locations. We chose vibes. We chose states of being. We chose 15 liminal spaces, places of in-between. GRW and CPRJ write about the Harvard Study of Adult Development whose results have received much attention for finding that forming deep relationships is the key to a happy life. However, some of the data used by the study is connected to scientific racism and eugenics. AEP and MTB interview international students at Harvard about how their concentration choices were affected by the STEM Optional Practical Training extension program, which allows international students studying in the U.S. to extend their visas for an additional 2 years if they study a STEM field. ASA and ETS talk to Brooks B. Lambert-Sluder ’05, who oversees the PAF program, about the value of having a PAF, which he did not have as an undergrad, and how he helped build the program since. MVE makes a triumphant return to FM to write about the Harvard Bicycle Club, a group of men who rode penny farthings together, occasionally raced, and held elaborate club dinners. In this week’s 15Q, HD interviews Jonathan Zittrain on the regulation of AI, his work with the Applied Media lab, and the future of the Internet. In her endpaper HWD writes about the joys and challenges of being a cowboy at Deep Springs, and her subsequent transition to being a Harvard student in Cambridge, Mass. Thank you to SWF for becoming FM’s resident cartographer and making us some beautiful maps. To SS, SET, SCS, MHS, MQ, JH, and JJG, thank you for being the best maestro team anyone could ask for! Special thanks to LJPE, HL, SS, SCS, MHS, AZ, and, of course, SET for our most drop-dead gorgeous glossy yet and for allowing us to finish proofing in record time. Thank you to BLK and MX for all the help you give us, proofing and beyond. AHL, this week we had some of our lasts — our last normal writers meeting, our last maestro, and there are still more lasts to come. It was bittersweet. I’m gonna save the long sappy comment for my last closeout, so for now I’ll just say thank you for being such a brilliant, dependable co-chair, and for making this job much more fun. Now just to try and savor these last few weeks … and plan our retirement party. FM Love, IYG & AHL
A Harvard education has the ability to change someone’s life, and, when leveraged properly, to influence the course of the nation. But as legacy admissions favor the children of alumni — who are disproportionately white and wealthy to begin with — many are left questioning the degree to which the University can truly act as an engine of change.
A chart included in the Statistical Report of the Statisticians that lists current students who “would have been excluded” under the “New Plan” of admissions. An “x” signifies if a student would have been rejected for being a “line case” or for failing English. Certain students are also marked with a red “J.”
Dear Reader, We hope you’re staying warm despite the wind, rain, and old drafty dorm rooms. But now you have the perfect excuse to curl up with a cup of tea, forget your early-enrollment period stress, and read our issue! It’s a good (and chunky) one. In this issue’s scrut, SJ and YAK bring us back to the ’20s, when Harvard admissions first became competitive. During his term, President Abbott Lawrence Lowell aimed to limit the number of Jewish students on campus to maintain the Anglo-Saxon character of the school. Some of the measures that Lowell’s admissions committee implemented became part of what is now the Harvard Admissions Office’s holistic review process. Other measures evolved into legacy preference, which has come under scrutiny in light of the Supreme Court decision this summer that overturned race-based affirmative action. This scrutiny traces the antisemitic history of legacy admissions and what it says about the exclusionary history of the College. Who does a Harvard education aim to serve? Can college admissions ever be certifiably inclusive at an elite institution? Also in this issue, SSL goes on a run with Graham Blanks ’25, a record-breaking distance runner at Harvard — or more accurately, she goes on a bike ride to keep up Blanks’s “casual” seven-minute-per-mile pace as he chats about his running insights, training regimen, and shares a glimpse into the lifestyle of a collegiate athlete. CNS and AC interview Kylie Hunts-in-Winter ’25, a martial arts world title holder, a prominent advocate for raising awareness of the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and co-president of the Harvard Jiu Jitsu Club. They talk with her about how her martial arts training intersects with her advocacy for women's empowerment and Indigenous rights. AI, AEP, and TNR interview English professor Stephanie L. Burt, who is teaching a new course titled “Taylor Swift and Her World” in the spring, offering students an opportunity to analyze Swift’s lyrics, music, and influence in the broader context of American art and literature. IBC interviews poet Joseph N. Fasano who is dedicated to democratizing poetry by making it accessible to a broader audience. CJY and AXN write about The Aging Initiative at Harvard, co-founded by Alyson D. Harvey and her colleagues, which aims to generate interest and awareness of aging research and the social and financial implications of aging. MMN writes about the ALiVe Project, which is run by researchers at the GSD, in collaboration with the Wyss Institute and SEAS, who are exploring innovative architectural technologies to make more environmentally efficient buildings. CM and LG talk to Delilah Brown, a student at Harvard Extension School who is managing and improving Harvard’s campus eateries, revitalizing the Queen’s Head Pub as well as the Barker and Lamont Cafes. As for the beloved undergraduate hangout Cabot Café, AS and MD report that the managers have delayed its opening due to new regulatory processes, costly certification requirements for student managers, and budget challenges. VWR also ventures to the Quad and reports on the recent game of Harvard Survivor, where 16 participants faced various challenges, searched for hidden idols, and formed alliances. AEP writes a choose-your-own-levity: how will you, a lone biker, make it to Mather in a sea of scooters? EL makes a comic suggesting various ways to be productive on the endless ride between Central Square and Harvard Square on the T. Lucky reader, you get to enjoy not one, but two 15Qs! BWF talks to historian Jules Gill-Peterson about the history of DIY transitioning, trans girl meme culture, and the trans community’s resilience in the face of political attack on all sides. CJK sits down with historian Naomi Oreskes to talk about climate change denialism, the discordance between climate sustainability and economic growth, and her favorite rock (spoiler: it’s Labradorite). It’s that time of the semester and we get it: you’re drowning. No fear, FM is here to provide you with our recommendations for the top 15 best places to cry. We got your back. In this issue’s endpaper, CJK reflects on the impact of Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” on her understanding of womanhood, lineage, and the complexities of mother-daughter relationships. We also bring you a crossword puzzle themed for this week’s scrutiny, constructed by crossword master JGH. Thank you to SS, SET, SCS, MHS, MQ, JH, and JJG for maestroing all year and especially to our design team for bringing us amazing glossies, time after time! Thank you to our execs and writers — we love you. Thank you to BLK and MX for proofing. A huge thank you to KT and HD for filling in our shoes a little prematurely to help us edit during shoot — so proud of and thankful for you two. Thank you to the rest of superboard for making Turkey Shoot deliberations legitimately enjoyable. Good luck to the 151st Guard — you’ll do great! The biggest thank you, as always, goes to my steadfast co-chair. I don’t know what I would do without you by my side (while watching Instagram reels, knitting, and playing online solitaire). Labradorite is cool and all but my favorite rock is and will always be IYG. FM Love, AHL & IYG
Dear Reader, Happy Halloweekend! We hope you’re taking in the sun (while we still have it). And while the weather makes going out in skimpy animal costumes more enjoyable this Halloween, it’s hard not to feel unsettled by this unseasonal warmth. Even so, it’s a nice reminder to go outside, take a break, go on a walk, and admire the vibrance of the changing leaves. This is peak New England fall — remember to take advantage of it. In this issue’s scrut, JKW writes about the experiences of having an eating disorder at Harvard. She opens up about her own history of disordered eating and shares other Harvard student’s stories. After months of research, interviews, and introspection, she brings us a powerful, beautifully written story about how, at Harvard, student culture can encourage disordered eating and how bureaucratic oversight often makes the process of recovery fall solely on the individual. She also speaks with medical professionals and experts to uncover more broadly where the problem begins. Thank you, JKW, for bringing this important story to light, and thank you MG for your diligent editing and your empathy. RCA and AY report on the library in the SEC (yes, it exists) and its collection, which runs the gamut, spanning from graphic novels to poetry collections to memoirs, many of which discuss the intersection of the development of science and technology with questions of race, gender, and ability. AI and MMN write about the Cambridge Time Trade Circle, where people can make purchases and complete tasks using an alternative economy using time as a currency. This week, we bring you another map: this time, MTS and MEE report on all our favorite haunts (and the ghosts who haunt them). And in this issue’s 15Q, SWF interviews Bruno Carvalho, whose research focuses on cities and culture, talking to him about the current controversy surrounding bike lanes in Cambridge, the first things he notices when he goes to a new city, and Halloween costumes. In our endpaper, EMK writes about her favorite cry-read, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “The Little Prince,” and how it resonates with her continual search for home. Thank you to SS, SET, SCS, MHS, MQ, JH, and JJG for maestro magnificence. Thank you to our execs — the lifeblood of our backend production (and an especially big thanks to those who helped hand deliver the glossy!). Thank you to BLK and MX for proofing in the direst of circumstances (Turkey Shoot, Crimween, Parent’s Weekend). Thank you to our writers, and especially to our readers for sticking with us. To IYG: the funniest person I know. Thank you for being a good sport and for always being there — we’re chugging along, even with midterms and Turkey Shoot, and making (New York Times) connections along the way. I’m so excited to round out the rest of the year with you! FM Love, AHL & IYG