Harvard avenges last year’s blood drive loss

Though some may say the rivalry between Yale and Harvard has fostered bad blood between undergraduates at both schools, students involved in the Harvard-Yale Blood Drive Challenge argue that the competition has produced good blood, and lots of it.

In the second annual such challenge, which took place Feb. 6 through 9, Harvard and Yale collected a combined total of 573 units of blood. Unlike last year, Harvard won the competition by eight points, tying the series at 1-1. Although Yale collected 294 pints of blood — compared with Harvard’s 279 — Harvard won after adjustments were made in point allocations based on hours and numbers of volunteers, American Red Cross at Yale College President Irving Ye ’07 said. The total donations will be enough to save the lives of over 1,700 people, Ye said.

Yale ran the blood drive for about five hours longer than Harvard, which had to be accounted for in the points awarded, Ye said. Also, because of population and scheduling differences, he said, Harvard had four volunteers at any given time, whereas Yale had only three. When adjustments were made for equal hours and volunteers, Ye said, Harvard ended up winning by a few points.

“We beat Harvard, and they only won on a technicality,” said Wen Fan ’08, who coordinated the Blood Drive Challenge, pointing out that Yale actually collected more blood.

Yale’s total amount of blood collected represents a decrease from last year. In the first Blood Drive Challenge in February 2005, Yale collected 314 units of blood to Harvard’s 250.

Still, Fan said turnout at this year’s drive was up from last year. When people heard about the blood drive, she said, “They were just beating down the door to donate.”

ARCY Vice President Kesi Chen ’07 said ARCY members are proud of the drive’s success.

“I think we were all a little bit disappointed that we lost, but I think that we all agree that in the end it was just so amazing that we were able to collect this much blood,” she said. “That was our ultimate goal.”

But Ye said he thought student participation in the drive was not as great as ARCY members had hoped for.

“We needed to get more students involved, sit outside dining halls, and get more students to be active,” Ye said. “We did less of a good job recruiting this year than last year.”

Because Harvard won the contest, Yale College Dean Peter Salovey agreed to be photographed wearing a Harvard baseball cap, the requirement for the second-place school’s dean. Ye said this stipulation, along with an iPod raffle and free T-shirt giveaways, were ways ARCY hoped to increase awareness of the drive and promote school spirit.

“Seems to me like they won on a technicality,” Salovey said in an e-mail. “Just wait until next year! To be honest, I’m proud of the undergraduates at Yale and at Harvard whose friendly rivalry helped contribute to such a good cause.”

Harvard junior Kathy Goodson, the school’s blood drive coordinator, said overall participation in the competition was strong, representing the largest total amount of blood ever collected at the drive.

“We were very impressed by participation from students and from the community this year,” she said in an e-mail. “It was a great opportunity to use a rivalry to save more lives. … Both schools did a great job of getting people involved and excited, and it paid off. We’re looking forward to another close race next year.”

Fan said lack of awareness is one of the biggest reasons for students not to participate, and that ARCY members hope to improve publicity in the future.

“The top reason why people don’t donate is that they’re not asked to donate,” Fan said. “The second reason is they fear the donation process. Obviously, we need to work on No. 1 and see if, through that, we can help allay fears about donating.”

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