Since the issue of admissions preference has been such a hot topic recently, I thought I’d discuss. The “everything beyond numbers” admissions approach, which justifies the admission of talented people like athletes or a cappella singers, makes Yale an interesting place. Athletes are an important addition to my college life — so are a cappella singers — but what the recently printed opinions on this topic ignore is the great silent minority: those of us who don’t necessarily put “extracurricular activities” or “schoolwork” first on our lists of priorities. Thank St. James Yale admits a whole lot of people who like to hang out and have a good time, whether or not they embody the ideals of “mental discipline.”
The “education through social experience” referred to by Kumar Narayanan in his letter-to-the-editor Tuesday must include, I feel, the vast number of people who come to Yale to accrue cultural capital. This school would be an awful place if everyone was expected to get As in organic chemistry, play lacrosse, or head the Yale Political Union. If I had to spend all my time studying and couldn’t find people who were willing to party on Monday nights, I wouldn’t be making the personal connections I am going to need to rise to high political office later in life. I think that the Yale administration completely understands this concern and does a good job of recognizing students’ need for partying. Our privacy is respected, rules aren’t too strict, and we get Monday and Tuesday off before Thanksgiving.
I’m glad I have the opportunity to do absolutely nothing and have people like me for it. I’m glad that I’m meeting all these other people who like to do nothing so that when I want to do something, I know I can find partners without prior commitments. I’m glad I like the atmosphere here.
I visited Harvard this weekend, which I do often for some reason, and I think their atmosphere sucks. It always seems like hard work to have a good night in Cambridge. But, before I get really mad, let me say that I usually have fun when I visit Harvard. However, although my friends are entertaining, it saddens me to see them oppressed by Harvard’s widespread crackdown on “fun.” I mean, I understand that Harvard wants to produce more leaders like John Lithgow, but maybe some of them just want to become actors. Or governors.
Harvard has hall monitors for Christ’s sake. A graduate student, patrolling the dorms in a suit at half-past midnight on Saturday, kicked me off the premises of Levritt House because I carried a beer with me to the bathroom. I thought he was joking at first, but then he showed me his proctor card. I guess I got what was coming to me.
Like Yale, Harvard shuts down its on-campus parties around one. Unlike Yale, Harvard has no off-campus social life to speak of. After everyone on campus retires quietly to their rooms; there is nothing left to do. By two o’clock the Quad is completely deserted and only a few stalwarts can be found in the Yard or by the river. I usually end up blissfully naked, wandering around the Quad or nursing a keg with three people. Sometimes I try wandering into a Finals club, but most of them have strict eviction policies for (naked) non-members. I’m glad at Yale that we have the option to peacefully move our parties off-campus where hall monitors and light sleepers won’t be disturbed by our being loud and naked.
As far as other Boston universities go, Tufts, compared to Harvard, does all right. Last time I was at Tufts, I drank a lot. When I was filling up my cup at this keg at a frat party, I decided that I really had to pee. But filling my beer was more important to me right at that moment than finding the bathroom. So I finished filling my cup and peed in my pants. But peeing in your pants isn’t cool, despite what Miles Davis thinks. So I went outside and took two big handfuls of fine Somerville sand to rub on my crotch and absorb the urine. Sand does not fulfill this function, unfortunately. I was left covered in dirt and piss.
As if this wasn’t already much more fun than anyone was having at Harvard, the first waves of nausea hit me. I knew I might have to vomit and I knew my roommate, Jamie, had to hear it. So I called him and vomited on the earpiece. This made me so pleased with myself that I went inside and picked up Alexis. A girl.
I often think of Alexis, or at least the image I’ve reconstructed of her, when I’m soiling myself at Yale parties. And then I praise St. Anthony that I go to the school that makes these nights possible: Tufts — I mean Yale.
Andrew Smeall knows Jamie. Why don’t you?