On the bottom of a sheet of paper given to Harvard students with the schedule of events for the Harvard-Yale weekend — a map of Yale’s campus and emergency contacts — was a single sentence that read, “If you are arrested on Saturday by the New Haven or Yale Police and need to speak to an attorney on call, please call Rohit Chopra at — .”
Rohit Chopra, Harvard’s student body president, gave the sheet to students in the hopes of making their weekend at Yale as fun and easy as possible. The last sentence, he said, was actually meant as a joke.
“I just wanted to set the tone for a fun weekend,” Chopra said.
Despite the innocent humor behind the statement, Chopra admitted that he had actually spoken to a friend who had graduated from Harvard and is now practicing law. The friend was aware that Chopra was going to say that he was “on call” for the weekend, although it was generally assumed that any student who was arrested was most likely not going to call Chopra.
Some Harvard students, however, did not assume it was a joke.
“It looked pretty serious on the sheet,” sophomore David Jakus said. “It was right above another number listed for the person to call if you had trouble with transportation.”
Chopra did not receive any desperate “this is my one phone call from jail” calls from students. But he admitted that he did receive several text messages from friends.
“Rohit, I got arrested,” wrote one teasing acquaintance.
Whether in jest or with all seriousness, the statement served to highlight the heightened expectations of fun, raucousness and debauchery long associated with the Harvard-Yale weekend.
Zac Corker, a Harvard senior and founder of HarvardParties.com, said interest in The Game has greatly increased over the past four years. Corker founded HarvardParties.com this past summer in an effort to help foster a more laid-back atmosphere at Harvard. He said many Harvard students suspected Yale students actually come closer to achieving that ideal.
Corker also mentioned that there was definitely the perception among Harvard students that Harvard-Yale weekends at Yale are rowdier than at Harvard. Yet for the most part, students said they were not truly worried about getting arrested.
“There were certainly plenty of activities going on that could have necessitated a lawyer,” Corker said. “But Harvard students are pretty good at not getting implicated.”
Most students agreed that with Yale–Harvard weekend comes increased energy and activity — and with increased energy and activity comes an increased police presence. But most Yalies did not seem particularly concerned about getting arrested either.
“I just assumed the cops were there to prevent fighting,” Jennifer Bloom ’06 said. “Cops are usually understanding.”
In general, both Yale and Harvard students said they noticed a universally increased desire to party on this particular weekend.
“Usually, if you are walking around on Friday nights on Broadway, you see a few groups of people partying. But there were literally people partying in the street. It was definitely a different atmosphere,” Bloom said. “It was a lot more energetic.”
Jakus said that during Harvard-Yale weekend, the party atmosphere — whether in New Haven or Cambridge — rivals that of larger, more stereotypically wild universities.
“This is as close as Harvard and Yale get to being a real college any time of the year,” Jakus said. “If you scale partying 1 to 10, Big 10 schools probably have a seven every weekend. We normally have a two. But on Harvard-Yale weekend we have about a 10.”
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