Harvard’s ‘Fifteen Hottest Freshmen’: A Eulogy
Humans, history has shown, don’t always make the best decisions. In the 1600s, they burned “witches.” In the early 20th century, companies sold “radium water” to promote health. And for more than a decade, the Harvard Crimson’s weekly magazine, Fifteen Minutes (FM), has published its annual list of the school’s “Fifteen Hottest Freshmen,” a guide to which of the campus’s 17- and 18-year-olds would make prime spouse material.
This semester, Harvard students may have to do without that road map. Because for the first time in recent memory, several sources tell me, the list will not run. One giant leap for mankind, right? Maybe.
The algorithm by which the editors made their decision every year was a mystery, but a few traits seemed to significantly increase a frosh’s likelihood of getting named top of the hot crop. From the published photos, you can see that cheesy blazers, gelled coifs, and smoldering smugness appeared to be mandatory. Pair that with the brief profiles of each hottie, and you get a better picture of the sort of fascinating individuals who made up this list. The Class of 2017’s hottest of hot, for example, included Gussie from New York (who thinks the best thing about Harvard is that “old money and new money can totally coexist”), and Archie from London (who has always wanted to ask someone “What rhymes with hug me?”).
But what the photos and interviews didn’t tell you was that these people were not only facially above average and adorably self-aware, but, from the ones I know, overwhelmingly well connected and wealthy. To any student looking to swiftly judge others, this information was invaluable.
Like any major ranking, Fifteen Minutes’ “Fifteen Hottest” drew both admiration and ire from around the world. Just last year, Gawker declared that the hottest 15 are “definitely not cool” and BDCwire called the list a “terrifying glimpse of our future leaders.” On campus, the list was generally acknowledged to be at worst a classist, historically racist, self-adulatory exercise. At best, just pretty stupid.
And yet—in just three years, the last hot frosh will graduate and head off to an undoubtedly hot future at Bain Capital or Goldman Sachs, leaving people like me scrambling to determine which classmates are rich and sexy enough to pursue. As it is, I’ve only got a couple months left of campus cougaring and really, these days, who can afford to make mistakes in this regard?
Alexis Wilkinson is president of the Harvard Lampoon.