• Molly Bales

    I’ve got some bones to pick with your article, but first, in the interest of fairness, let me reveal my bias: I’m a 2010 Harvard grad, and I’m proud of my school. Having gone to public school in rural North Carolina, I am particularly sensitive to articles that connect the words “Harvard” to “elite.” (I know this is not part of your argument, but it’s such a preconditioned neural pathway that I feel compelled to dispel any kernel of that bias that may have snuck into this article.)

    My main critique of this article is the rejection of the house system as a source of community, and I generally disagree with the idea that the social life is so lacking at Harvard that social clubs are going to take over. I was in Mather House (the best house, obviously :)), and Mather was a huge part of my social life; I felt no need to join a social club. My best friends were all in my house with me, and my experience is not unique. My guess is that the appeal of exposing the ‘seedy underbelly’ of a prestigious institution prevented you from drawing a more accurate, albeit less tantalizing, conclusion: yes, there is a lack of social spaces on campus, yes, Harvard’s social scene is not the best (duh! we’re a bunch of nerds! ;)), and, yes, that has contributed to the growth of social clubs. However, the house system is, and will continue to be, a source of community for the majority of Harvard students. Here are my more specific comments:

    1. The vast majority of Harvard students are NOT in social clubs. The article mentions that 15% of the Harvard female population is in sororities; in other words, 85% are not! Compare this to more Greek-centered schools, like Wake Forest, with almost half of its undergraduate females in sororities.

    2. The degree to which a student identifies with his/her house varies significantly depending on the House. Mather House and the Quad Houses (a neighborhood of three houses), for instance, have incredibly strong house pride. I’m guessing you only interviewed students from the houses located nearest to the Harvard T stop (Adams, Quincy, Winthrop, Eliot; sorry, guys, but you know it’s true). Each house has its own social events, including formals, happy hours, and other parties, and some houses have better events than others.

    3. Parties “can get ‘really hot and pretty gross sometimes.'” That’s your basis for saying that house parties aren’t fun?! It’s not a party until I’m really hot and pretty gross. 🙂

    4. Final clubs are “elite (à la the Winklevoss twins).” I see no evidence for that sweeping statement, unless you count renting The Social Network as part of your due diligence… Yes, there’s the occasional student whose last name happens to match one of the campus buildings, but they are few and far between.

    5. “The result is a tiered social system: those who have access to final clubs and those who don’t.” As mentioned above, there are tons of events outside of the final clubs. Most non-final-club students aren’t in final clubs because they don’t want to be.

    Hope that clarifies things. So be careful the next time you decide to rag on Harvard… Hell hath no fury like a Harvard woman scorned. 😉


    • the nas

      Mather Haus!!!

  • upop

    If the city bureaucracy finds out about these unpermitted private events in city parks, the consequences won’t be good.