History is rich with fierce rivalries and intense hatreds of all kinds, spanning individuals, institutions and fictional characters. Yale University, of course, is no stranger to this reality, thanks to our illustrious history with Harvard University. Indeed, we have come to the time of the year when our rivalry against the behated Crimson reaches its apex for the playing of “The Game.”
At Yale, we are certainly on the right side of this rivalry. In the history of The Game, we lead the series 65–58. And beyond the football, Yale has an even more decided advantage. It goes without saying, but Harvard is a very bleak place to go to school and is permeated by a spirit of general misery. F. Scott Fitzgerald even called Harvard students “sissies.” As I know from my experience last year, they wimp out of boxing matches for improv shows and hide behind the prestige of their school’s name to mask their social awkwardness and inflate their egos. Just this year, one of their employees even stole $80,000 of university money to buy Legos!
You would think, given these facts, that we as an institution would laugh at our pitiful rival and rise above. Yet in reality, the opposite is happening. Yale takes on an inferiority complex and acts like Harvard’s little brother. We screen their classes on projectors and throw parties for their students. These gestures are not reciprocated, however. You can’t find “The Cold War” on a Harvard projector, and although they do put together some kind of event when The Game is in Cambridge, everyone knows it is always lame. Also, they are poor hosts more generally and last year had some kind of bizarre and classless display at halftime where they mercilessly hacked at an inflatable bulldog with hatchets.
Yale must come to a place where we decide to stop being Pepsi to Harvard’s Coke and start being America to Harvard’s Britain, ending the current erroneous dynamic. We’re clinging to the “We Suck” prank and a Crimson feature entitled “The Cult of Yale,” both of which are at this point over a decade old. We haven’t won The Game since 2006 and, as I stated earlier, are losing our edge in other ways.
It’s time for Yale, at an institutional level, to have a sense of pride!
First, our ill-fated experiment with Harvard’s CS50 should end. I have written on this topic previously and do not feel the need to elaborate further, but considering the massive failure the course has been, there is no need to continue the trial. If the administration refuses to give Yale’s computer science department enough resources to support its own course, future students should refuse to take CS50 and those already in the course should leave honest (and therefore scathing) reviews.
Second, the administration should stop forcing the Yale College Council to throw Harvard a party in Commons the night before The Game. Our YCC Events Committee, led by the irreplaceable Amour Alexandre ’17, will undoubtedly put together something terrific. However, because of the expensive cost YCC incurs to rent Commons, it will absorb a significant chunk of their budget. Considering that Friday night will represent many Harvard students’ first exposure to an open party, and the fact that Toad’s is hosting a dance party, the YCC shindig is redundant and unnecessary. It would have been a better use of our student activities fee to save that money for a different occasion when fewer social options were available to Yale students. If nothing else, the event in future years should be something more confrontational, less like a dance and more like Spain’s Tomatina.
Lastly, and most importantly, we should commit to consistently putting together a football team that can dominate Harvard, year in and year out. Today’s players and coaches consistently outperform expectations given the recruiting and budget constraints imposed on the program. But Yale can do right by our athletes, and by tomorrow’s gridiron warriors, with a few fixes. Invest more in the program, providing second-to-none facilities, expanded training staff and putting giants out there who can destroy the Harvard players. The cost should even be partially subsidized by profits from selling beer in the Yale Bowl (another one of my ideas from an earlier column).
Yale is in a transitional moment, a moment enriched by one of the most intense displays of community solidarity in our campus’s history. The recommendations in this column are certainly of a less serious nature than many of the questions currently facing campus. Nevertheless, the time has come for Yale to seize its proper place in our greatest rivalry. So this weekend, let us all shout, “Boola boola!”
Michael Herbert is a senior in Saybrook College. His column runs on alternate Thursdays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .