Keegan: What I learned from my Cantab ex-BF

Today, the News is publishing a special satirical “Harvard sucks” News’ View. Good start, but they don’t go far enough. Harvard actually sucks. Like, literally, it sucks.

I went to high school in Cambridge, Mass., and my long-term boyfriend went to Harvard. This means I spent my senior year sleeping at Harvard on the weekends and hearing the day-to-day minutia of Harvard life on the phone each night. I don’t know how many people have conducted such comprehensive and comparative research — especially considering that we hang out in generally similar circles (the control!) so there isn’t too much variable variation, so to speak. The conclusion: Harvard sucks. But actually.

Here’s why:

  1. The people are actually less fun. My estimation is that there’s a domino effect at work. “Hey, I’m not going out.” “Ok, I guess I won’t either.” “Hey, let’s suck.” “Yeah, I guess I’ll suck too.” I think part of this has to do with the type of people that inherently value prestige. Many people get into Harvard and Yale, and I think a lot of the people who choose Harvard do so because they value the slight edge in brand recognition. Dull prestige-chasing begets dull prestige-chasing — not fun.

  2. They don’t have a large arts program. Maybe I’m being biased here, but I think artsy people are fun. And funny. They add an exciting element to campus in the form of theatre, improv comedy and musical performances. My ex-boyfriend was interested in theatre; at Harvard, there were literally three shows to try out for. Lameee.

  3. Nobody lives off campus. Living off campus in Harvard Square is far too expensive, so there are no off campus houses. Even if it’s not your thing or you’d rather live in a dorm, Yalies at least have the option of going to a party that doesn’t involve swipe-ins.

  4. There are no fraternities or sororities. So if fun tailgates and free-flowing booze are your thing, Harvard can’t hold a candle to Yale.

  5. At Harvard, there are adults living in freshman (and other) dorms. On the first floor of my ex-boyfriend’s dorm there was a professor and her husband who acted as “frocos.” Except instead of being friendly and helping students get to DUH when they throw up, this professor would actually come upstairs at 1 a.m. to tell us to quiet down. Every weekend. At 1 a.m. Everyone would mournfully sigh and agree to go back to their own rooms.

  6. Finals clubs screw up friendships. At the beginning of sophomore year, right when everyone at Harvard has figured out who their friends are and is finally settling in, people get punched for clubs, and everything goes to hell. I witnessed this happen first hand as some of my boyfriends’ friends were punched and others were not; the newfound pressure to hang out with an exclusive club messes with social cohesion.

  7. Finals clubs suck. They only let girls come to their parties. Whenever I wanted to go to a party with my boyfriend during his freshman year, he couldn’t get in.

  8. No one goes to Harvard events. Yalies go along with events like Safety Dance, the YSO show, Trolley Night, et al; Harvard students don’t even show up. When I heard about my boyfriend’s freshman formal, I wanted to go. We ended up staying in because no one else was planning on going.

I wish this article was more snarky and hilarious. But, after all, like all happy Yalies, I’m a little strapped for time. It’s Game day tomorrow, and I’m leaving for the Harry Potter premiere in a minute. At any rate, I’m glad to lay the facts out: The truth of the matter is, from someone who can honestly say she’s seen both sides of the story — Harvard sucks.

Marina Keegan is a junior in Saybrook College.


  • River Tam

    1. Opinion
    2. Are artists *more* fun than the people (science types) that they’re replacing? They’re certainly more neurotic.
    3. A small percentage of Yalies live off campus. Our admissions office actually touts this as a good thing.
    4. There are no DKEs, Zeta Psis, or Betas at Harvard!
    5. Yale is the exception – every other university has actual rules.
    6. Secret societies screw up friendships. Rooming screws up friendships.
    7. The same thing is true at most clubs in the United States (see: the best scene in Knocked Up)
    8. Yale events are over-crowded.

    Who am I kidding? I love Yale. Go Bulldogs!

  • JoeTheNotDumber

    1. Marina’s point may be mostly expressed in the form of an opinion, but Cantabs and Yales all agree that The Game is more fun in New Haven than in Cambridge.
    2. They may not be more fun, but they are certainly more eccentric and off-the-wall as a demographic. Since you agree that there are more artists at Yale, that makes for a more interesting campus atmosphere–just because you don’t become friends with everyone doesn’t mean meeting them doesn’t make your college experience more meaningful.
    And science people are less neurotic than artists? Like you say already, “Opinion.”
    3. Again I think Marina’s point is not to rehash statistics (despite the fact that the Harvard Crimson itself noted that 15 percent of Yalies live off campus. Doesn’t sound like a small percentage). But, again, that’s besides the point. Off-campus conditions allow for better and more frequent parties. Regardless of numbers, Marina’s point is well-taken.
    4. Again, you are missing Marina’s point. And you are agreeing that there are more parties at Yale than at Harvard. More parties = greater likelihood of finding good ones.
    5. Okay, so you agree that Yale dorms are more fun!
    6. Secret societies tap for senior year. Final clubs tap for sophomore year. When you are so late in your college career, friendships are more stable–you’ve known people for more than a year. I can speak from personal experience here, with two brothers at Harvard. Two of my brother’s roommates were no longer friends after the punch process.
    7. Are we talking about clubs or colleges?
    8. Maybe overcrowded by your standards, but Yalies enjoy encountering humans at parties.

  • 11

    Secret societies don’t screw up friendships. They just make you feel lame if you’re not in one. Rooming does, but it’s way better than blocking. That was a (small) factor in me not choosing harvard.