As a first year fresh off the soul-sucking, acne-inducing, nutella-bingeing trainwreck that is the college admissions process, I entered Yale with a magnanimous attitude toward the Wildlings in the north. I guffawed at the jokes about the enmity between the Bulldogs and the — Harvardians? Crimsonites? Legacies? But in my heart I thought we were brothers and sisters in the liberal elitist world of higher education, beacons of light and truth (or in Harvard’s case, just truth). At least they weren’t Penn.
Imagine my shock when I arrived on campus and realized the true extent of the rivalry between Harvard and Yale. Families ripped apart, brother turned on brother, Netflix passwords maliciously changed — it was disconcerting to say the least. With no explanation provided, I was supposed to hate the college for which I had spent weeks of my life pounding out a response to the 2017 supplemental Common App question: “HarvardTM prides itself on its empty brand name and utter lack of creativity. How have you demonstrated snobbery and/or what was your father’s experience at and donation history to Harvard?”
Whenever I asked an upperclassman for an explanation, they would just say something about being accepted to Harvard but wanting a life. Confused and determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, I braved the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library for the first time since college tours. With Directed Studies majors helping to translate the Ancient Greek and providing access to their unlimited stash of 5-Hour Energy, I spent many sleepless nights uncovering the entire messy history between Yale and Harvard.
Hereafter is the abridged version:
- Circa 2000 BCE: God prefers Abel’s offering of New Haven apizza to Cain’s offering of Boston baked beans. Cain (H, class of 2006 BCE) murders Abel (Y, class of 2004 BCE).
- 64: Harvard student studying abroad in Italy violates housing rules by having a lit candle in his room. Rome burns down.
- 1351: Harvard students don’t take out the rubbish in ye olde dorm room, allowing for the breeding of rats. Bubonic Plague kills half of Europe’s population.
- 1447: Lord Petyr Baelish (HBS ’37) sets up Sansa Stark and Ramsay Bolton as dates for the Winterfell Screw.
- 1835: Harvard invents the P-Set.
- 1912: Rose DeWitt Bukater (H ’11) won’t scoot over on the raft. RIP Jack Dawson (Y ’10).
- 1966: The Grinch (HBS ’40) comes to New Haven to steal Christmas, but Yale has already been on break for about two weeks.
- 1978: A Harvard physics lab goes wrong on Three Mile Island. All the students still receive an A.
- 1980: The leg warmer, crimped hair and shoulder pad fashion trends spawn in Cambridge.
- 1994: Harvard kills Mufasa.
- 2007: Harry Potter (Y ’08) destroys the parts of Voldemort’s (H ’31) soul hidden in his horcruxes: a Canada Goose jacket, his SAT score and a Tesla.
- 2008: The Joker (HBS ’77) traps Cornell and Dartmouth students on two explosive-lined ferries in the Hudson River; no one cares.
- 2012: Harvard producers cast Russell Crowe as Javert in “Les Miserables.”
- 2016: After lulling Harvard into a false sense of security for nine years, Yale beats Harvard at The Game.
Claire Zalla | firstname.lastname@example.org .