Come Saturday, Sarah Robinson SOM ’11 will proudly don a shirt marked “Yarvard” and will cheer for the “Crimdogs.”
A 2003 Harvard graduate, Robinson, like many other graduate and professional school students who formerly attended Yale’s archrival, said she feels little conflict between her alma mater and current home. But when The Game rolls around, she finds herself at odds with most of her classmates.
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“I’m feeling very conflicted about The Game,” Robinson said. “I’m getting a lot of sh– for it.”
Still, while during the year graduate students are united as Yalies, The Game brings out a dark — or, at least, crimson — side in some students.
The tailgate is where loyalties really show, 10 students said, as some Yale graduate students split off from their friends, slip on a Harvard shirt and raise glasses with fellow former Cantabs.
“It’s a little bit more obvious that you’re a traitor,” Robinson sighed, admitting that she will be cheering for Harvard this year.
Some graduate students embrace their dual identities. Mridula Raman LAW ’12, a Harvard graduate, said a fellow law student, Jessica Schumer LAW ’10, is coordinating the production of a Harvard College/Yale Law T-shirt to display the split allegiance of a large number of law students.
Many of these graduate students find that The Game provides a convenient excuse for reunions and revelry. Stephanie Lee LAW ’12, a Harvard graduate who worked for two years in New York City after graduating from college, said that around the time of The Game, she often runs into former classmates en route to New Haven or Boston.
Harvard graduates Edouard Coakley GRD ’13, Brian Distelberg GRD ’12 and Lee all said friends from college will join them in New Haven this weekend. Coakley’s seven Cantab visitors pose a welcome housing challenge in his small room in the Hall of Graduate Studies, he said. He and Distelberg said they look forward to seeing friends more than the competition itself.
Still, only four of the 10 graduate students interviewed said they plan to attend the football game. Raman said Ivy League football is not up to her standards, so she will stay on campus instead of attending The Game.
“I’m an actual fan of football, so I don’t really watch [The Game],” she said.
Others said the football game itself is not the main attraction.
“I think by the time the tailgates are over, you’re just too drunk to remember,” Lee said.
Helen Curry GRD ’12, a Harvard graduate now earning her PhD in History, said she also won’t attend The Game. Gesturing to some of her fellow students in Blue Dog Café on Monday, she said graduate students in a highly-selective program like history are more concerned with academics than with the famed football rivalry.
Still, Curry said she fondly remembers her undergraduate days, when friends painted themselves in crimson war paint.
“People’s alignment is going to be with their undergrad school,” she said.
While Harvard graduates like Raman and Chris Miller GRD ’15 expressed their loyalty and Robinson confidently predicted a Harvard victory, both Raman and Robinson conceded that Yale wins when it comes to both tailgates and pranks.
Though Lee recalled the Harvard band’s mock execution of bulldog during a past halftime show, she said the “We Suck” coup of 2004 — in which Yalies tricked Harvard fans into holding up signs that collectively spelled the insult — ranks high in the esteem of graduate students, many whom attended Harvard at the time.
Still, Robinson said she plans to spend the first half of the football game on the Yale side and the second half on the Harvard side. Having just begun graduate school this fall, she justified her favor for Harvard by saying: “Two months doesn’t compare to four years.”
“Maybe as time passes, my loyalties will balance out,” Robinson said.
For more Harvard-Yale coverage, visit yaledailynews.com/thegame.