03.07.13 VOL. XLIV, NO. 17
The Indy is counting the days until spring break. Cover Design by ANNA PAPP
CONTENTS FORUM 3 I Feel Like a Woman 4 The Art of Losing NEWS 5 Pursuit of Happyness ARTS 6 It's the End of the 80s as We Know It 7 Save the First Dance 8 Dragons Fly SPORTS 9 Ellipses and Ellipticals 10 Gents Fence 11 The Butternut Cup Destination of the week... Budapest
President Editor-in-Chief Managing Editor Director of Production
Angela Song '14 Christine Wolfe '14 Sayantan Deb '14 Miranda Shugars '14
News and Forum Editor Arts Editor Sports Editor Design Editor Associate News Editor Associate Forum Editor Associate Arts Editor Associate Design Editor
Whitney Gao '16 Curtis Lahaie '15 Sean Frazzette '16 Alex Chen '16 Milly Wang '16 Kalyn Saulsberry '14 Sarah Rosenthal '15 Travis Hallett '14
Illustrator Anna Papp '16 Cartoonist John McCallum '16 Photographers Maria Barragan-Santana '14 Tarik Moon '15 Business Manager Albert Murzakhanov '16 Senior Staff Writers Michael Altman '14 Meghan Brooks '14 Whitney Lee '14 Staff Writers Claire Atwood '16 Xanni Brown '14 Clare Duncan '14 Gary Gerbrandt '14 Travis Hallett '14 Yuqi Hou '15 Cindy Hsu '14 Chloe Li '16 Orlea Miller '16 Albert Murzhakanov '16 Carlos Schmidt '15 Frank Tamberino '16 As Harvard College's weekly undergraduate newsmagazine, the Harvard Independent provides in-depth, critical coverage of issues and events of interest to the Harvard College community. The Independent has no political affiliation, instead offering diverse commentary on news, arts, sports, and student life. For publication information and general inquiries, contact President Angela Song (president@harvardindependent. com) or Managing Editor Sayantan Deb (managingeditor@ harvardindependent.com). Letters to the Editor and comments regarding the content of the publication should be addressed to Editor-in-Chief Christine Wolfe (editorinchief@harvardindependent. com). For email subscriptions please email president@ harvardindependent.com. The Harvard Independent is published weekly during the academic year, except during vacations, by The Harvard Independent, Inc., Student Organization Center at Hilles, Box 201, 59 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.
A Sensitive Subject Reflections on Women’s History Month.
By CHRISTINE WOLFE
ot knowing how to feel — that’s why. Believing that knowledge of one’s feelings is the only right way — that’s why. Believing empathy is the only moral right to the point of sharing in sickness, chronic pain, disillusion — that’s why there is a Women’s History Month. That’s why feminism exists, beyond the existence of sexism, not simply a battle to end something but a battle to cope with — and celebrate — the inextricable elements of one’s identity. The best hours of my life have been spent secluded outside, somewhere quiet and detailed. In those places, things happen slowly, if they happen at all. In the simple act of walking in a forest, a mess of green shrouding sound and light, my ability to feel is unimpeded. I can experience — something that brings me more pleasure than anything else — without interpretation. It isn’t like that out in the world, surrounded by people. An excess of sensitivity can bring as much pain in a crowd as it can pleasure once alone. The inescapability of flickering feelings of doubt is at the root of my social anxiety. To continuously question one’s feelings and feel embarrassment at the extent of one’s feeling can be crippling. The derogatory use of “sensitivity,” particularly when describing femininity, underlies the doubly problematic nature of strong feeling. Feelings of sadness, anxiety, depression, and embarrassment are exacerbated by the negative social connotations of sensation. To call someone sensitive is to infer their inability to use logical reasoning and even their neglect of empirical processes. The extremity of women’s emotions has been an excuse to exclude women from nearly all aspects of life except childcare for time immemorial. While the exclusion is a problem in its own right, the assumption that sensation, feeling, and acute The Harvard Independent • 03.07.13
awareness are universally harmful is an equally destructive belief. I am sure women vary in the extent to which sensation has a hold on their lives. But for many, the immense, insurmountable burden of and addiction to feeling is an integral part of our identities as women. And — in an impossibly difficult paradox — it is simultaneously the cause of the best and worst of our lives. Empathy and emotional depth give meaning to my life. But what happens when there is a disconnect in feeling, when one person cannot understand,
Sensitive, Oxford English Dictionary: Of living beings: Endowed with the faculty of sensation. Formerly often: ‘Having sense or perception, but not reason.’ cannot empathize with another? In my case, this disconnect led to extreme guilt. To have loved and trusted people with whom I can never fully relate is one of my bitterest failures. When my ability to empathize was compromised, I took on such shame that the only solution I could imagine was to cut those people out of my life. That way, I could not disappoint them. It was a selfish way to deal with a problem without solution. There is also the question of beauty. Of feeling shame in its absence. For people who are highly aware of the sensory world, beauty can become an obsession. And while of course there are many definitions of beauty,
none come without a command to adhere and to dedicate oneself to that standard. My particular prescription of beauty is typical of the white Western tradition, but women who refuse to wear dresses or makeup are as attentive to their presentation as I am. The highs of my vanity are as high as the anguish of my self-hatred. I spend half my time in appreciation of the mirror, half my time in disappointment, but all of the time in obsession. I do occasionally choose to make myself into something that I do not see as beautiful. I have been told that doing so represents my agency over the pressure of commercialized beauty, which is supposedly liberating, and I believe the message behind that statement is a pure one. But in those moments, I still worry that I am not feminine enough. I know that men care about that. And I care that men care about that. So I hunch my shoulders and try to hide what I do not want to be me. Insanity, in my experience, is linked to extremity, to passion. Often when I confide in my friends my anxiety, they call me crazy. They tell me to stop thinking about things so much, to let go a little. And this logic prohibits me from explaining the painfully simple truth that if I could let go I would. If I felt it were possible for me to be more stoic I would never feel pain like I have. Loss would be a temporary sadness rather than a ceaseless attempt to retrieve a part of myself that is gone. I would spend less time each day running over the possibilities of my future in my head, ticking pros and cons until everything is wrong and I end up in the place where I began — nowhere. And as a Harvard student, nowhere is the greatest failure. But what has been seen as my affliction has also given me meaning. I am not religious; I do not think we exist for any reason other than having
arisen by chance. So we are here, and that is it. If so, I want to be here. I have seen beautiful things. I have read beautiful words that have given me beautiful thoughts. I doubt I would see this beauty without the depth of feeling that I seem to have. Even pain has given me sensation bordering on the rapturous. I don’t know if my addiction to emotion has anything to do with being a woman. I read an essay about David Foster Wallace several weeks ago that presented his problems in a similar way: he is said to have felt trapped within himself, and infinity only worsened his sense of meaninglessness. From what I’ve learned at Harvard, there may be differences in men and women’s brains and there may not be. It’s almost impossible to know. But there are biological differences between men and women, and as a neurobiology concentrator, I believe structure underlies function. I would not be surprised if women’s increased sensitivity to the experiences of others as well as their own has a significant impact on depression, the prevalence of which is almost five times as high in women as men. In any case and in any gender, the damage done by degradation of emotion is unquestionably harmful, not simply to those who feel but to the good that can come out of sensitivity. Sensitivity should be elevated as a primary root of empathy, without which we could never seek to solve any problems we face in our local and global communities. Without it, we could not experience with any depth moments of beauty and pleasure. That depth gives me reason to be happy to be myself — a woman. Christine Wolfe ’14 (crwolfe@college) invites you to celebrate Women’s History Month in whatever way speaks best to you. harvardindependent.com
How To Lose a Guy in 5 Days
By WHITNEY GAO
Day 1: It’s a beautiful, sunny afternoon. You stroll into your favorite offbeat, hipster café and immediately lock eyes with the cutie in the corner as he looks up from his laptop. After some awkward but adorable pick-up line and flirty conversation, you coyly exchange numbers and strut your stuff out of the place. You must not wait any longer than five minutes before frantically texting him. It’s imperative for you to know exactly where he’s sitting, what he’s doing, what he’s wearing, who he’s surrounded by, and the color of the wallpaper in the room he’s in at all times of day. Never leave a period of more than thirty minutes un-interrogated. Until you get the chance to wire him, your phone must be your camera into his life. This next tip is optional, since it does require a lot of work, but it is recommended for best results. Discover his address and end the day with a surprise visit (make sure that it’s after 10 p.m. and he has no clue). You show up fully clothed (turtleneck preferred) with a basketful of chick flicks released in the last month — a Ryan Gosling appearance is essential.
Day 3: You’re coming into the third day, which means only one thing — time to take him shopping! This is your time to shine as a feminist and defy gender stereotypes: make him your Barbie doll. Requirements for this event include (but are not limited to) hitting no fewer than ten stores, only entering stores with no benches whatsoever, and only stores he has never heard of before. It is best to ask the sales associate assisting you what he/she thinks of each outfit before changing. You should try not to stop for food, breaks, or early termination. Persistence is key, and taking breaks only dilutes the experience. It’s your time to bond and show your knowledge! He will appreciate it in the end; all his objections are surely just expressions of his modesty and dislike of inconveniencing you in any way. After you finish with him, it’s important to turn the spotlight on yourself. Take twice as long to shop for yourself, showing him each and every outfit you try on, but never, ever purchasing anything — it will help him think you’re meticulous but low maintenance. It keeps him on his feet (literally). He will also appreciate you helping him exercise while expanding his wardrobe; multi-tasking will be a new skill you can help him acquire.
Why I can do it better than Kate Hudson.
Day 2: Hopefully after that romantic night of movie watching and masculinity stealing, you’ve made it to a time early enough to warrant breakfast (in case it was unclear, you should have kept him up all night staring at Ryan Gosling’s beauty). Get him to make you the biggest breakfast ever; whatever whining it costs, it will be worth it. Eggs, pancakes, bacon — the whole package. Exhausting his entire refrigerator earns you bonus points. Next, leave without offering to wash the dishes and without putting out. Continue that incessant texting. Throw in a few phone calls for good measure if he stops responding. And remember, whenever you leave a voicemail, it should be useless and ridiculously long-winded.
Day 4: You’re almost there. This is the home stretch, and I believe in you. Pep talk aside, you have to close the deal today. If you feel like you’re still miles from the end zone, here’s a secret weapon: technology. They say technology is really ripping relationships apart — you should use this to your advantage. Steal his phone, have someone crack all his passwords to email and laptop. Whatever it takes to completely invade his privacy, you should do. Go big or go home. If you’re not in it to win it, don’t let the door hit you on your way out (also, using clichéd phrases constantly in everyday conversation never hurts). Once you know absolutely everything about him, you will truly be able to understand him. And he will love that you took so much time and effort to get to know every intimate detail about his life. Love knows no bound(arie)s.
Day 5: You receive a shady text. If he’s a good guy, which he probably is since you’re awesome and only draw the most beautiful and solid guys ever, it’ll say “We should talk.” But if you’re like me and seem to attract the sketchiest guys ever, it’ll say something like “Yo, I don’t think this is working out. Deuces.” Or, more realistically, he’ll probably just disappear off the map and never be heard from again (until you awkwardly run into him at Starbucks). Regardless, mission accomplished. Whitney Gao ’16 (email@example.com) thinks that if more men appreciated Ryan Gosling, the world would be a much, much better place.
Illustrations by Anna Papp
03.07.13 • The Harvard Independent
Come On, Get Happy
A look at the Happiness Semester Challenge at Harvard.
BY KALYN SAULSBERRY
ecently, mental health has become a trending and important topic of discussion and debate among a student body eager to identify resources that enhance mental health on what can be a stressful, competitive campus. In early February, an email was sent over countless Harvard lists with the subject line: “A semester happiness challenge? Sign up!” In the bombardment of emails sent each day to Harvard students, who most likely do not have space in their schedules to sign up for any more activities, it would have been all too easy to simply cast this one into the trash along with other mass emails advertising meetings or leadership opportunities. However, the fact that 700 undergraduates responded to this email and signed up for the Happiness Project’s Happiness Semester Challenge suggests that something in that subject line must have caught their attention. The Happiness Project is a student organization that seeks to promote happiness and reduce stress among the student body via a series of projects. A co-director of the organization, Cabot’s Emily Lowe ’14, explained that “one of the things that sets the Happiness Project apart from other student mental health organizations is that instead of addressing an existing issue, we’re The Harvard Independent • 03.07.13
a lot more about prevention of mental health issues. We’re about developing a happy, healthy lifestyle.” Students who were on campus in 2011 may remember the Happy Nest, which was sponsored by the Happiness Project. The Happy Nest was a room in the SOCH that held regular events with StressBuster massages, Wii games, and free burritos and pizza to offer students a physical place to de-stress. However, due to student aversion to trekking or shuttling to the Quad, the Happiness Project decided to close the Happy Nest and instead work on a different project: The Happiness Semester Challenge. Emily Lowe is a co-director of this club with Winthrop’s Cindy Shih ’15. While the Happiness Semester Challenge actually started last year, only 200 students participated compared to the 700 students who signed up this year. Shih explained, “we’re really reinventing what the Happiness Semester Challenge is about and really examining what we want it to be.” The Happiness Semester Challenge is a ten-week-long endeavor in which interested students participate in weekly activities to promote happiness and wellness. Examples of previous challenges have been keeping daily journals and exercising either alone or with friends. While future challenges will
be announced on a rolling basis, Shih said, “for Spring Break, we’re going to ask participants to put in suggestions so that the challengers can choose what they want to do for a week.” In addition to the Spring Break wildcard challenge, a subsequent week’s challenge may include volunteering or simply doing favors for a friend. To track student participation in the Happiness Semester Challenge, there is a weekly form for students to fill out with their progress. Not only do students have individual incentive to participate, but there is also the chance of winning prizes. Last week, the Happiness Project offered a Harvard Rec and Sports private group exercise class for free to one participant and carabiners and drawstring bags to four other participants to congratulate them on completing the challenge. The Happiness Project hopes to continue awarding weekly prizes and is actively trying to partner with a variety of businesses in the Square in order to procure gift cards and other special offers. While the Happiness Semester Challenge seeks to improve individual happiness for each student, it also has broader goals of affecting the entire Harvard community. “One of the big goals throughout the semester is to provide a forum where students
can interact with each other and meet other challenge participants. On that end, we’re hoping to host house-based or neighborhood-based study breaks,” says Lowe. There are tentative plans for a larger celebration of the accomplishments of all the challenge participants, because, as Shih explained, “one of the things that we really want to do this year, which didn’t happen last year, was build a community.” Even though the Happiness Semester Challenge seems to suggest that after the end of the ten weeks, students can return to their old habits, members of the Happiness Project hope that the behaviors learned during the semester will extend beyond the challenge. “We hope this is something people will adopt into their regular routine to help them be happier on a daily basis, and hopefully it’ll have a positive influence on Harvard’s culture in general,” says Lowe. Looking towards the future of this project, Lowe’s sentiments echo those of the 700 students who signed up to participate: “We’re excited about the possibilities and can’t wait to see what comes out of the ten weeks.” Kalyn Saulsberry’14 (ksaulsberry@college) hopes that the Happiness Semester Challenge will make Harvard a happier place to be!
This Was, Is, And Will Be
Thoughts on the ICA.
By SARAH ROSENTHAL
t is entirely non-traditional to review a museum exhibition after its closing. But perhaps when the exhibit in question takes the contemporary and historicizes it, or rather asks its viewers to do so, this is an acceptable approach. The Institute of Contemporary Art’s recent exhibition, This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s (November 15, 2012-March 3, 2013) took on this exact model of temporality, presenting the issues of the ‘80s as a historical moment contemplated retrospectively. But as the future perfect tense of the exhibition’s title suggests, the viewer must acknowledge the presence of the issues at hand, and the show itself immaculately immersed its audience in the suspended past. The exhibition presented an array of social issues, each packaged into a gallery room, as addressed by artists in the ‘80s: feminism, sexuality, democracy, race, consumerism, and “The End” of culture. Each of these themes branched out to present immediate issues like the AIDS epidemic and the commodification of the human body. While all of the topics were presented powerfully, I found the comments on the commodity culture to be particularly resonant, and to a disturbing degree. Zooming into the unavoidably bleak aspects of a society temporally adjacent to our own, the art presents an apocalyptic atmosphere in which the human, intelligent enough to create something as complex as the art object, can do 6 harvardindependent.com
nothing but embrace the tools of their own destruction. And while the first walk through these galleries was horrifying because of the darkness embodied within the objects and the time they represent, the second was like a material nightmare come to life. Because revisiting these works — and considering their message — I realized that at this point, the only way for some of these horrors to become part of the past is for us to blind ourselves to what is wrong with them. I have relatively high hopes for the future of Western society as it continues to improve its outlook on diversity and ability to respond to the cries for help raised by the downtrodden, but if art history has taught me anything, it is that Americans today are slaves to commerce, objects, and most of all, the image. This idea is nothing new; it has been addressed throughout “modern” times in texts like Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle. But engaging in the two studies my Harvard education has thus far immersed me in, Art History and Computer Science, has left me in a moral limbo regarding the consumption and escapism each one presents: the object of beauty and intellect on the one hand, and the dazzling virtual reality more pristine than our own on the other. But this is not the forum for a manifesto on the evils of modern technology and commerce as formulated independently of This Will Have Been. The exhibition was a fully
immersive experience. Almost every room had a piece involving an audio track such that the galleries boomed with sounds even before the viewer could see the associated visuals, eliminating the traditional silence of the hallowed museum interior. The wall surfaces themselves were covered in two-dimensional statements like General Idea’s Aids Wallpaper and paragraph-long political statements, on top of which were put the paintings and hanging objects. Hans Haacke’s Hommage à Marcel Broodthaers involved two walls connected by a red carpet. And visitors were invited to keep Adrien Piper’s confrontational business cards. The objects of art took every conceivable form, and to read each one, absorbing its process and statement, cemented the viewer in the present, as concrete as the materials inhabiting that space. But while making the viewer entirely present and aware of the immediacy of her existence among them, to what extent do these objects lose themselves, either to the past, to the over-revered position of High Art, or most distressingly, to the status of the commodity? Or even to the role of image to be reproduced ad infinitum, as photograph and Instagram and memory. With our vision calibrated to see everything either as a potential image surface or as an item to be purchased, is there really anything we experience in the present, or has everything turned into something that was or “will have been”?
As I recall it now, less than a week after I experienced it, this exhibit was one of the most resonant and thoughtprovoking I’ve ever been to. But how pitiful it is to realize that having been trained to see everything through the lens of the media and through the words of many of my peers, I can barely absorb an experience in the now. I think about all I’ll say about it when it’s gone, or when I’m away from it. And I’ll historicize it, removing it from the present no matter how current the issues may be. I can acknowledge that for the most part, the people I love have sacrificed themselves to the cult of the iPhone, that songs remind them not of social experiences but of commercials, and that these problems were all predicted in times like the ‘80s. Most of all, I can acknowledge that most of us still think of these things that have already happened as ones that are still to come. The discontents we express at aspects of life to come become our new drugs, and eventually, we can’t even distinguish them from the blood they flow through. But I cannot predict what will happen in the future, because as I see it right now, my life can be nothing but a series of pasts waiting to happen. Sarah Rosenthal ’15 (srosenthal@college. harvard.edu) knew Guns and Roses were onto something...
03.07.13 • The Harvard Independent
Courtesy of www.deanshaw.com
Here There Be Dragons
One band’s accelerated rise to fame brings them to Boston. By WHITNEY GAO
ebruary 25th brought Imagine Dragons to Boston’s House of Blues. Opening for them were Nico Vega and Atlas Genius (fun fact #1: Imagine Dragon’s frontman Dan Reynolds is married to Nico Vega’s lead singer Aja Volkman. They met while Nico Vega was headlining a tour on which they invited Imagine Dragons before all the fame and fortune — ironic, no? They are very happily married with one daughter named Arrow, who is also currently on tour with them). If you think Imagine Dragons is a bit too indie and not enough rock, you should definitely check out Nico Vega. In a sort of revolutionary-vibe sort of way, their intensity is reflected in offbeats and novel melodies. House of Blues makes it awkward, because in an attempt to facilitate stage changes between acts, all three bands’ equipment starts onstage at the beginning of the first act. Despite their having at least ten able-bodied staff members along with the band members themselves who chip in, HOB makes the stage clumsy and cluttered to start with. But in spite of the obvious difficulties this presents, Nico Vega’s Volkman did an amazing job with keeping the energy pumping and the passion flowing. That said, there was one questionable song about girls making out with their hands, pretending that it’s a man. Not quite sure that one resonated with the crowd very much. But, they are offering one free song if you email them. I haven’t yet, but if they give you a choice in song, I’d suggest “Fury Oh Fury” — the slam poetry beginning was unexpectedly refreshing. Atlas Genius, a better-known name (with 46,000+ Facebook likes on their page as opposed to Nico Vega’s 18,000+), was exceedingly docile after the show Nico Vega put on. But I suppose it helps that all of its members were beautiful and Australian and just wonderful in all respects. At one point, lead singer Keith Jeffery jumped off the stage and ran in front of the crowd. So many pre-tween female hands flew at him, I was amazed he didn’t get the crap smacked out of him. The Harvard Independent • 03.07.13
(Fun fact #2: Atlas Genius is comprised of three brothers — Keith on guitar, Michael on drums, and Steven on bass — and Darren Sells on keyboard. Yay for good-looking Aussies!) If you’ve never heard Atlas Genius before, look up “Trojans.” It’s very characteristic of their style, which if I had to put into three words would be upbeat, indie, and light (could you get more mainstream hip?). Most of their beats are quick, and there are lots of musical interludes involved. It’s like if you put The Lumineers on a lot of coffee and added higher pitches. But, I really enjoyed their sound — new study music discovered! Finally, we get to Imagine Dragons. Let’s just pause and talk about their set. It was a pretty good setup: three white overlapping semicircles overlaid with tree motifs — playing off of their Night Visions album theme. Though the forest creature sounds may have been a tad overdramatic, I felt the overall atmosphere was true to their style. However, the real skill was in their light show. I cringe for any epileptics in the crowd, or anyone with even the slightest bit of intolerance for spastic lighting, but for the rest of us, it really helped make the experience. The colors were bright and really complemented the music. I will say that getting a spotlight shown in your face periodically was slightly annoying, but that was rare and well worth it. As for the music, the success the band has seen really speaks for it. I remember when their EP was released and promoted on Spotify. Usually I click on the “What’s New” tab and find good new music that I eventually forget about in a couple of days. I instantly fell in love with this group, however, and learned all of the words in a matter of hours (you osmotically absorb these things when the album is on continuous loop). I really can’t put my finger on what specifically makes Imagine Dragons so popular, but I will say that the lyrics play a big part. So many mainstream artists make it through catchy beats and easy-to-remember lyrics that have absolutely no substantive meaning to them. Imagine Dragons, however, honestly pushes you to think about what’s being said. The gravity is only compounded by Reynolds’s tough personal struggles and his rawness of voice — the tangibility of his passion really shines through. But even if the songs don’t speak to you on any level, maybe you can appreciate the emphasis on rhythm and the clear dedication to developing melody. Or just how hipster they look in their photo shoots with an indie filter. Whitney Gao ’16 (whitneygao@college) is officially a groupie — or whatever the politically correct term is these days. harvardindependent.com
An Indy freshman recounts her experience at the Formal. By CHLOE LI
Breaking in Boston For museum junkies.
By MIRANDA SHUGARS
f you’re in the Boston area, take an afternoon and visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It’s a short walk from the MFA — you could make a day of it. Many people miss this little museum and instead go only to the MFA, but given the choice, I’d say the Gardner is a better option. First, it’s small enough to see all at once, whereas the MFA is enormous and it might take multiple trips to appreciate all of its wings. When I first arrived in Boston, I headed over to see these museums. I enjoyed the MFA, which offers some really incredible exhibits, from ancient historical art (with ample context provided alongside them) through about the 19th and early 20th centuries. When I visited, their contemporary wing consisted of about 15 works of mediocre paintings. This aside, the MFA is worth a visit. And then there’s Isabella. The Gardner was the kind of museum I walked into with no idea what to expect, and I walked out with a sense of peace, happiness, and deep inner calm. The Gardner’s original collection comes from Ms. Gardner’s personal collection — after she built the museum in order to house it. It retains a sort of cluttered, homey feel, without oppressing the viewer at all with too many things to look at. I won’t go into too much detail about this beauty of the place itself, because it’s worth experiencing for yourself. The only drawback of the museum is its hours of operation — 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and until 9 p.m. on Thursdays. However, for only $5 with a valid college ID, there’s no excuse not to go and check this place out, whether you’re interested in art, history, architecture, or just new experiences. If you’re interested in seeing more contemporary art, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is worth a visit. The last time I went (at the time, I wasn’t particularly interested in or informed about contemporary art) I thoroughly enjoyed the visit — from the strange and sensory exhibits (after all, why should art be limited to walls?) to the quiet reading room with a full wall of windows protruding over the ocean. A full view of the horizon and some post-modernist ponderings for nothing but the cost of a T ride? It’s well worth the visit to Boston’s most industrial art experience. 8 harvardindependent.com
s I contemplated going to Freshman Formal, the piece of advice I received most often from sage upperclassman friends was: “Go, so you can laugh at yourself later!” Formal, with its grandiose promise of a “Night in Hollywood,” and, well, demand for formalities, did not seem like something I would remember later with laughter. But, as a lover of every opportunity to dress to the nines, I seized my chance. The night began with dinner in the ever-versatile Annenberg, which was — like its beloved freshman — dressed up, adorned in twinkly lights and accessorized by talented musicians. Sure, we ate the usual Annenberg fare (spruced up with titles like “hydroponically grown,” and topped with things like “onion beurre”), but the room quivered with nervous excitement as girls in flowing gowns and boys in dapper tuxes moved to and fro (I’d just like to say: class of ’16, you clean up nice!). Finally, when we finished devouring dessert and all the cameras stopped flashing, we braved the cold in our heels and suit jackets and headed towards the Westin Waterfront. Upon arrival, we filed en masse into the hotel as we tried to check our coats, and cameras continued to flash as we marveled over the gorgeous setting and our gorgeous classmates. At first, we were polite, restrained, milling around kitschy tables of cupcakes and chocolate fondue as we tried to slide subtly towards the dance floor. Brightly colored lights danced frenetically across the elegant, dark ballroom, but no one danced along with them. A number of girls formed dance circles in the center of the floor, as other formal-goers waited hesitantly at the sides for more people to arrive. Remember prom? For a while, Formal was like prom with a streak of junior high dance in the middle. But, as the music got louder and the crowd on the dance floor got bigger, inhibitions evaporated quickly. Smooth (and not-so-smooth) dance moves erupted from people I’d only seen in LS1a lecture and so did smiles from friends I hadn’t seen since before J-term. Loud cheers took over the crowd as we joined the DJ in a rendition of “Titanium.” Of course, kudos must be given to the audacious members of the ballroom team who samba-ed their way up and down the floor. The later into the evening we got, the more the crowd pulsed in time with the music, the louder the cheering, and the crazier the moves. But if you preferred activities a little quieter than gettin’ groovy, you could take silly photos in the photo booth with that cute guy or girl from section you’d been dying to talk to, catch up with friends in the hotel lobby, or have your photo taken on the glamorous red carpet by the very dedicated First Year Social Council. It was a night for making and remaking connections, kicking back, and letting your hair down – even if it was a black tie affair. As the night wound to a close, I realized that my upperclassman friends had (once again) dispensed excellent advice. Indeed, I will always look back on the night with disbelieving laughter (did I really try to get low in four inch heels? Did we really just wait for two hours to get our coats from the coat check?), but I would have been remiss had I chosen not to go. The event struck the delicate balance between fun and formal just right, no doubt due to the hard work and devotion of the FYSC. I’ll cherish the memory the way I cherish memories of Valentine’s Days in grade school – with intense nostalgia and happiness, and some mild embarrassment hanging around the edges. Chloe Li ’16 (chloeli@college) will never check her coat again. 03.07.13 • The Harvard Independent
Balance The perfect mix between intellect and physique.
By MEGHAN BROOKS
hate running. Actually, that’s not true. I hate the idea of running, rather, the anticipation of the careful process of lacing up sneakers, putting on a sports bra, leaving my room, sweating, and then having to shower again. But when I am running, I love it. I can’t go very fast and can’t go very far, but when it’s wet outside and dark, and late at night or early in the morning and I am alone, running is exhilarating. I like to leap on and off curbs with my hands spread and suspended above my hips, and go uphill very slowly, making each little step land firmly on the pavement before I lift the other foot. I don’t run at school, though. I did a few times freshman year, at midnight, but since then I’ve grown busy — and lazy, — and my exercise is limited to weights for half an hour in the Dunster basement gym three times a week. What drives me off of running — and exercise in general — is the apprehension that accompanies its anticipation. Even after six years of interscholastic sports, I still feel like the unathletic seventh grader in glasses who cried her first day of soccer practice, and the two weeks after it, and who finished the field day races dead last and yards behind the pack. Even as captain of the junior varsity team four years later, I arrived at each practice with a shallow pit in my stomach. Planks, passing drills, shooting drills, sprints: my body could handle it — and I knew it — but up through my last game senior year, I began each practice slightly afraid. It wasn’t like that when I was much younger — kindergarten through third grade. I played soccer every year in local kids’ leagues and loved it. At that age it’s just play. No one is particularly better than anyone else, and defenders get to sit in the grass and pick daisies while the offenders deal with the ball. In the fourth grade I developed knee pain that lasted through high school, but I continued to play. In the fifth grade, I quit soccer, because I discovered that I was a nerd. Becoming a nerd in early middle school was something that happened to you because of a love of reading and an introverted personality, wirerimmed oval glasses, a center-parted low ponytail clipped to the back of your head, the same fullyzipped green knit hoodie every day, and an intense fear of social rejection, despite knowing that it was happening every second of every school day. Integration with the popular kids was impossible, so “nerd” was what I embraced. Nerds get straight “A”s; they use long, complicated words when they The Harvard Independent • 03.07.13
Courtesy of Meghan Brooks
speak; they have an age-inappropriate interest in historical fiction; they don’t care when they’re not invited to birthday parties; and they do not play sports. So I quit soccer, and gave up in gym class, and stopped playing outside. In the sixth grade I was running a twenty-minute mile at the same pace that in the second grade I placed third in. I defined myself as unathletic, and unathletic I became. It took two years of attending a school that believes that exercising the body is just as important as exercising the mind for my hatred of sports to simmer down into a manageable apprehension. It took me another two years to finally feel the rush that accompanies a midfielder’s sprint downfield when she is already past the point of exhaustion. And in my last two years of high school, within a few minutes of practice, my love for what I was doing melted my remaining anxiety. I played, and I was fit. Today, I am strong. I can easily lift bookshelves as a Dorm Crew captain, and have no trouble running
up the stairs with my twelve-year-old brother on my back. When I make it to the gym I knock out five hundred crunches, and when I do find myself running, I feel like I can go forever. Yet, I do not consider myself athletic, even in the intermittent fitness periods when I exercise almost every morning. It’s not an adjective I’m used to, and it’s probably not an adjective anyone else would use to describe me. This means that when I do lace up my sneakers, put on a sports bra, and begin to sweat, I feel like what I’m doing is somehow alien to my body. It’s only when I am already moving, flying off curbs and watching my muscles tense on the mat that I feel connected to my more physical self, that I remember that I am a physical as well as an intellectual being. I need to get in the habit of making myself remember that more often. Meghan Brooks ’14 (meghanbrooks@college) knows her body is more than a vessel for her brain.
dom i na nce
H a r v a rd c a p t u r e s t h e I v y L e a g u e m e n ’ s fe n c i n g c row n .
Photo by Alexander DeLaney
By XANNI BROWN
t is unlikely that you were among the smattering of fans on hand at the Gordon Indoor Track this weekend who got to see the Harvard men’s fencing team win the Ivy League championship. If you had been there, you would have seen feet flying, swords flashing, and even an epic, championshipdeciding duel between two brothers. If you had been anywhere near Allston, you likely would have heard the cheering. The Ivy Championships actually should have taken place three weeks ago, if not for some unfortunately timed snow. One co-captain, Lucas Lin ’14, described it as a rather imperfect storm, saying the team was at “the perfect combination of physical and mental preparation, and then we had the blizzard.” In the intervening weeks, the team did its best to maintain that level of preparation, incorporating more competitive bouts into their training and sometimes splitting into teams to simulate the game day environment. This preparation for the psychological aspect of working together as a team at a high-stakes event was key to the Crimson’s victory last weekend. Fencing is, especially at the college level, at team sport. Despite its individualized appearance, it takes an extraordinary group effort to emerge victorious from a meet such as Ivies. A fencing meet is broken down into multiple matches between two teams — for example, Harvard vs. Yale. Each match is further broken down into bouts between individual fencers. There are three types of weapon – foil, sabre, and épeé – and each team at Ivies selects three fencers to compete with each weapon. The three Harvard fencers each fight all three of the Yale fencers individually in their particular category of weapon, resulting in nine bouts fought with each of the three weapons. In total, that means that each match encompasses 27 bouts, with the victory going to whichever team wins the majority of bouts. (If you are particularly enjoying the 10
mathematical portion of this article, you will be pleased to know that Harvard played five matches over the weekend, resulting in 135 total bouts. Furthermore, each bout is won by the first fencer to reach five touches on their opponent, so if the bout is close and finishes 5-4 there would be nine touches per bout. All this goes to suggest that in the course of the Harvard men’s fencing team’s victories this weekend, people were hit with swords up to 1,215 times.) Much more interesting than the numbers, however, is the atmosphere this set-up creates. Since only one to two Harvard fencers are competing at a given time, the rest of the team gets to watch their teammates fight and cheer them on in their individual bouts. Harvard took advantage of this to the fullest, gathering on the sidelines and screaming encouragement at their teammates. According to co-captain Michael Raynis ’14, this team support was crucial to their success — intentionally so. He describes the support by saying the Crimson were “literally cheering arm in arm” and “kept on interrupting the event to huddle up and give each other encouraging words.” This team unity did not appear overnight, but it was vital, as the matches took a physical toll on the fatigued fencers. According to Raynis, from the beginning of the season, “The four captains of the team really did their best to emphasize that team dynamic is going to be critical.” In addition to practicing together two and a half hours a day, five days a week, the team gets together before big events to hang out and watch a movie. This week it was the shining standard of team-unity classics, Remember the Titans. Going into the finals, the team had fought four matches already, including two extremely close battles against Princeton and Columbia, with scores of 16-11 and 15-12, respectively. In the words of Raynis, the team was “extremely exhausted,”
facing a very strong roster of Penn fencers. With an incredible undercurrent of team support, a few key players came through at crucial moments to keep the Crimson’s hopes for the Ivy League title alive. Sophomore Alexander Ryjik was down 4-1 in the final sabre match before coming back to win it 5-4 – an extremely difficult feat that kept Harvard in the running against Penn. In the last match of the épeé competition, Raynis came through with victory that tied the match up at 13 bouts to each team. In doing so, he ensured that Harvard still had a chance at winning the title outright, and he placed freshman Jerry Chang in the kind of situation of which inspirational sports movies are made. In the final, decisive bout of the Ivy League championship, Chang faced his older brother Jason in the foil. He sprung out to lead 4-2, but then dropped two points, bringing the score to 4-4, triggering an extreme version of the common playground hurry-up, “next point wins.” It was at this moment that Raynis must have started to experience some severe déjà vu, having fought the deciding bout against Yale for the title his freshman year, which also managed to go down to the very last point. In both cases, the Crimson fencer managed to come through with a victory for Harvard. On Sunday, Chang’s teammates swarmed around him, screaming and celebrating the championship they had won together. “Ultimately,” said Raynis, “it came down to us exerting ourselves as a team and carrying everyone on each other’s shoulders, so each player gave it two hundred percent.” That kind of team-first sentiment, expressed throughout interviews with both captains, is just as refreshing to hear as any feel-good speech in Remember the Titans. Xanni Brown ‘14 (afsbrown@college) is having some trouble reconciling her newfound fencing knowledge with her lifelong love of Zorro. 03.07.13 • The Harvard Independent
Best Three F Out of Four
The captain of women’s squash talks championships, bonding, and legacy.
Ivy League Low-Down
By SEAN FRAZZETTE
The Harvard Independent • 03.07.13
or the third time in four years and the fourteenth time in Crimson history, Harvard’s Women’s Squash captured the Howe Cup — finishing first in the Squash team championship. The squad knocked off Trinity five sets to four for their second straight title. Number one seed Amanda Sobhy, number three seed Haley Mendez, number five seed Saumya Karki, number six seed Natasha Kingshott, and number nine seed Megan Murray all won their individual matches, giving Harvard just enough sets to win the match as a whole. This weekend, the Indy spoke with senior captain Sarah Mumanachit ’13 about the dominance of the team and her legacy in the program. Sean Frazzette (SF): First, I’d just like to say congratulations on winning the national championship. Could you just tell us how it feels to be called the best team in the nation? Sarah Mumanachit (SM): Being the best team in the nation is an overwhelming honor as well as a huge testament to how hard our team worked throughout our season. We could not have done it without each other, the attention and care of our coaches, and of course the love and support of our family and friends. SF: What’s it like to watch your teammates battle for each precious point, while you yourself can only play for one? SM: It definitely gets nerve-racking sometimes watching your teammates play, but that’s the great part of college squash! You play an individual match that contributes to a team’s win or loss, you’re a part of something bigger than yourself and when you win, you get to share it with an awesome group of girls! SF: This would be your third national championship in your four years here, right? Where would you place this one on the list? SM: Yes, that’s a really tough question. I can say that this has been our most competitive season yet in that our finals match was the closest it had been the previous years. They are all really special to me especially because I got to celebrate with my “squash family.” SF: Could you talk a little bit about this team? Would you say it’s a close group of women? SM: Yes, we’re a close group of women. It’s a great group to be spending so much time with and one of the great aspects is that everyone is so hard working. We are constantly pushing each other on the court and in the gym. We have a great support system not just for squash, but advice in general. SF: As a senior captain, what was your role in a sport that many see as being more individual than group? SM: Yes, squash is an individual sport, but at the end of the day we win or lose as a team. A senior captain, I think Natasha and my role was emphasizing this aspect of the team and how much it makes victory better because what’s better than winning? I would say winning as a team and being able to share a championship with them. I am so proud to be a part of this team. In addition, our role also included facilitating communication between the coaches and players, maintaining positive energy, and leading by exemplar dedication and hard work. It has been such an honor for us and
we are sad to be passing the torch soon, but we are also excited to see how much the team accomplishes in the years to come from the bleachers. SF: Looking back on your four years, what makes Harvard’s women’s squash so special? SM: Harvard squash in general has been a very special part of my Harvard experience. It sounds cliché, but it was indeed a family away from home. We spend so much time together training, on the courts, on road trips, eating, studying, and more. It’s so sad to be done my competitive days of squash, but it’s nice to know that I can always come back and visit and I will always be rooting for Crimson squash, intently looking for updates online. SF: Why did you choose Harvard in the first place back in high school? What made it stand out? SM: In choosing colleges, I knew that I wanted to play squash competitively so I was looking at schools I could be both a student as well as an athlete. That narrows schools down a bit since only so many schools have a squash team, but Harvard stood out. It would be an amazing opportunity to attend such a prestigious school as well as join a historically very successful squash program. I was excited to be attending Harvard, I did not know that I was going to get even more than I asked for, a whole Harvard Squash family as well! SF: What do you see in this team going forward after you graduate? Do you see another championshippotential squad? SM: When I look at this team, I see many players who have grown on and off the court improving tremendously. I know that this improvement will continue and with such a hard-working team, I am excited to see what they accomplish! Of course, I see another championship-potential squash, but I am very superstitious so, knock-on-wood, but I believe in them nonetheless. SF: Switching over to individuals, what can you say about your teammate Amanda Sobhy, who just won her second straight individual championship? SM: We are so amazingly proud of Amanda for her accomplishments. It’s a great honor being a second straight individual champion! It is clear that she is dominating in college squash as she did not lose a game all weekend at the individuals’ tournament. I am so impressed by how hard she works and how she takes the pressure to win (since everyone expects her to) in stride. SF: And last question: If you could have people say one thing about what you’ve left behind for the squash program, what would that be? SM: That’s such a difficult question, since I am only one person of a long-line of Harvard squashers. It has been such an experience representing Harvard on the squash court. When I was an underclassman, I admired my upperclassmen for how experienced and knowledgeable they were. And so, I can only hope that I have been one of those upperclassmen that underclassmen have looked up to. In addition, I hope my teammates have a positive Harvard Squash experience like me, as it has been such an integral part of my four years here. Sean Frazzette ’16 (sfrazzette@college) is more of an expert in pumpkins and zucchinis. harvardindependent.com
captured & shot
by Maria Barragan-Santana