I love Harvard.
Some of my heroes — FDR, RFK! — went there. I grew up in Arlington (formerly West Cambridge). My parents were married at Eliot House.
I chose Yale because, of course, Harvard offers its undergraduates a worse education. Harvard focuses on graduate students, Yale on undergrads.
Still, you’re going to learn a whole lot either way — unless you waste your time writing for the Crimson, Harvard’s student newspaper. I’m wasting my time right now, but only because I just turned in my paper for Directed Studies — one of Yale’s many elite undergraduate programs, taught by professors, not TAs or TFs.
So I was surprised by an editorial that appeared in Thursday’s issue of the Crimson: “Why Harvard? Because Yale Sucks.” In case you missed it, The Crimson’s editorial board penned what was admittedly a funny polemic against Yale. I have to say I laughed at some of their best burns, especially this zinger: “Comparing Harvard to Yale is like comparing Kobe Bryant to an IM baller.” But I was also confused. Why had the Crimson suddenly decided to get down and dirty?
The answer, of course, must be Visitas, Harvard’s version of Bulldog Days. They were making a pitch to their prospective students. And they made a pretty good case, besides the lack of details and the hurried dismissal of Yale’s “social scene (whatever that means).”
Perhaps the Crimson’s editorial board doesn’t know what it means to have a social scene because the most exciting thing to do in Harvard Square is to watch a pigeon eating a cigarette butt outside of Au Bon Pain. Anyway, if you are the sort of prefrosh who was convinced by the smear, good riddance, my fine young friends! And if you’re on the fence, allow me to retort.
Harvard, or rather a Harvard student, worries about reputation and only that. Harvard blindly attaches its name to any notable graduate — or, in Mark Zuckerberg’s case, dropout — just so that they can claim the number-one spot in some (not even all for God’s sake!) college rankings.
Why does the Crimson editorial board dismiss our study of the humanities as “arts and crafts”? Do they really not like art? Do they think John Milton was a finger painter?
Or maybe “arts and crafts” refers to a college where all the buildings don’t look exactly the same.
I could list all the under-the-radar Yale geniuses who have enabled Harvard students to binge Netflix instead of reading a book. And, in fact, I think I will: Meryl Streep DRA ’75, Ed Norton ’91, Paul Giamatti ’89 DRA ’94, Robert Lopez ’97 — oh, you don’t know who Bobby Lopez is? He’s one of only 12 people in history, not one of them from Harvard, to have won an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards); he co-created “Avenue Q” and the “Book of Mormon,” and he wrote songs for “Frozen.” Let’s throw in Cole Porter 1913 and Paul Newman DRA ’54 as well for a touch of class.
Yale is ascendant: We’re erecting two new colleges; we have the Beinecke Manuscript Library and the Sterling Memorial Library, “a temple of learning and a cathedral of knowledge” in the words of John Gamble Rogers 1889. We have Pepe’s and Sally’s Apizza. Come on guys!
And that’s all beside the point, because we don’t care about your articles: It’s all good fun. I’m only writing this because I love Harvard, and I hate to see its less interesting or talented undergrads undermine it while trying to make a name for themselves through shoddily constructed invectives that take themselves at once too seriously and not seriously enough.
So if Harvard’s old man Kobe Bryant, Yale is Steph Curry.
Or whatever. You think we’re playing basketball, but you can have the court.
Daniel Flesch is a freshman in Pierson College. Contact him at email@example.com .