03. 03. 11
T HES T UDE NTWE E KL YS I NCE1 969
I ns i de: Hous i ngDa yf r enz y , Os c a r s , a ndr a l l yf orAmer i c a .
03.03.11 vol. xlii, no. 17 The Indy is waiting, waiting, waiting. . . Cover photograph by wikicommons
Cover art by
President Weike Wang ‘11 Vice President Whitney Lee ‘14
FORUM Caning Cantor 3 SPECIAL Keep Calm and Carry On 4 Alimentary Adventures 4 Point/Counterpoint: Luck of the Draw 5 6-7 University Real Estate The Waiting Game 8 ARTS Stars and Statuettes 9 The Man, The Legend 9 10 ¡ Shakira, Shakira! SPOrTS 11 Housing Glory
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 Weike Wang (firstname.lastname@example.org). Letters to the Editor and comments regarding the content of the publication should be addressed to Editor-in-Chief Yuying Luo (email@example.com). Yearly mail subscriptions are available for $30, and semester-long subscriptions are available for $15. To purchase a subscription, email subscriptions@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. Copyright © 2010 by The Harvard Independent. All rights reserved.
Editor-in-Chief Yuying Luo ‘12 Production Manager Miranda Shugars ‘14
Executive Editor Riva Riley ‘12
Business Manager Amanda Hernandez ‘14 Associate Business Manager Eric Wei ‘14 News and Forum Editor Arts Editor Sports Editor Design Editor
Publicity Coordinator Ezgi Bereketli ‘12 Meghan Brooks ‘14 Zena Mengesha ‘14 Brett Giblin ‘11 Alexandria Rhodes ‘14
Columnists Sam Barr ‘11 Luis Martinez ‘12 Staff Writers Michael Altman '14 Peter Bacon ‘11 Arthur Bratolozzi ‘12 Colleen Berryessa ‘11 Arhana Chattopadhyay ‘11 Sayantan Deb ‘14 Levi Dudte '11 Gary Gerbrandt ‘14 Cindy Hsu '14 Sam Jack ‘11 Marion Liu ‘11 Hao Meng ‘11 Alfredo Montelongo ‘11 Nick Nehamas ‘11 Steven Rizoli ‘11 Brad Rose '14 Kalyn Saulsberry '14 Marc Shi ‘14 Jim Shirey ‘11 Angela Song '14 Diana Suen ‘11 Alex Thompson ‘11 Christine Wolfe ‘14 Sanyee Yuan ‘12 Faith Zhang ‘11 Susan Zhu ‘11 Graphics, Photography, and Design Staff Maria Barragan-Santana '14 Chaima Bouhlel ‘11 Patricia Florescu ‘11 Eva Liou ‘11 Lidiya Petrova ‘11 Schuyler Polk ‘14
03.03.11 • The Harvard Independent
We Want to Serve Supporters rally to save AmeriCorps. By SUSAN ZHU
Susan Zhu / INDEPENDENT
am a firm believer that public service will make all of us better citizens and America a better country. The House of Representatives, lead by a crop of freshman Republicans, recently passed a budget proposal that would cut federal funding for several public service agencies and programs. Backed by the Tea Party, these Congressmen were voted in to cut wasteful spending. Like many worried citizens, I understand the importance of being fiscally responsible, and I, too, view our growing debt with mounting incredulous concern. But I have to question whether these Congressmen know the definition of “wasteful.” The Republican majority has proposed to cut funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service, the governmental agency that houses results-backed service programs like Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and over 70,000 other community and faithbased organizations. Doing so would eliminate AmeriCorps, whose partner network includes the likes of City Year, Citizen Schools, JumpStart, Habitat for Humanity, and Teach For America. It has been only two years since the Serve America Act was passed with enormous support from both sides of the aisle, but these freshmen Congressmen wouldn’t know that. Nor would they understand just what is at stake. These public service programs are anything but wasteful. They send corps members to the most atrisk regions of America, educating children, cleaning up the environment, The Harvard Independent • 03.03.11
providing basic health care access, and serving returning veterans of war. Looking at the benefits to education alone, public service programs can mean the difference between a child going to college and going to prison. I don’t think any of the 50 states have any room in their budget to deal with more incarcerations, crime, and environmental destruction, especially as they lay off more and more public servants of their own. Along with over 300 similarminded peers, I attended the Rally to Save AmeriCorps last Thursday. We had timed the rally to coincide with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) visit to the Institute of Politics. Shouting “One, two, three, four, we support AmeriCorps!” and “Eric Cantor, we want answers!”, we marched from the John F. Kennedy Park to the entrance of the IOP, where Cantor would be speaking at the JFK Jr. Forum. The JFK Forum and the Institute of Politics were fitting backdrops for our rally and an ironic locale for Cantor to speak about slashing funding for programs like AmeriCorps. Cantor received a fantastic question from Liesl Newton ’11, a 2011 Teach For America – Mississippi Delta Corps Member, regarding the cuts to AmeriCorps. She asked on behalf of current corps members and alumni. “Why do you propose eliminating funding for programs that invest not only in local communities, but also in the future leaders who care so much about them?” Cantor’s answer: “We’re going to
have to make some choices. It’s about trade-offs. It really is.” How would President Kennedy have responded, seeing national service so easily written off? Politicians need to work together to re-evaluate their priorities. They need to understand that “earmark” is not, on its own, synonymous with “waste.” Content matters. Education and public service are not wasteful entities. What’s wasteful? Corporate tax loopholes, for one. Bridges to nowhere, for another. What else could Congress do, other than cut AmeriCorps? At a Senate intern lecture this past summer, Sen. Bob Bennett (RUT) spoke candidly on this issue. He had just lost his party’s primary to Tea Party member Mike Lee, and he said that politicians refuse to look at the big elephant in the budget: entitlement spending — Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security — even though everyone knows it needs to be reformed. Few dare to call for private
sector intervention in those matters. As Americans get older, entitlement spending will take up more and more of the annual budget. How many discretionary programs are we willing to cut? Maybe what our enthusiastic budget-slashing legislators should consider is a reduction of their own paycheck. I am not saying that the federal government must keep the status quo in place. I would understand if federal funding were temporarily reduced for programs like AmeriCorps and Teach For America — we all take hits when the economy is down. But it is entirely counter-productive to eliminate a program dedicated to making our country better. We love this country. We want to serve. Let us. Susan Zhu ’11 (szhu@fas) doesn’t understand why members of Congress earn more money than public school teachers.
If you believe that you should still be asking what you can do for your country, join the movement and sign the petition:
By CHRISTINE WOLFE
D+ Halls W
hat follows are this intrepid reporter’s personal dining hall rankings, compiled over a weekend of over-eating and shuttle surfing with Indy sidekick Gary Gerbrandt ’14.
Pros: Stunning, dark woodpaneled dining hall, moose napkin holders, oddly beautiful, rather large servery, and four-cheese pasta from heaven. Cons: There’s an 11/12 chance you won’t be in Dunster, and unless you’re inMather or Leverett, I doubt you’ll be jaunting all the way over just for the pasta (but you should).
Pros: Lovely plaster moulding on the ceilings, large, open dining area, and accessible cereal. The dining hall has a welcoming, social feeling to it. Cons: Plastic Cups? Why do they think we want to live in houses? I’ll tell them: GLASS!!
Pros: Incredible lighting (love the windows), social and private seating arrangements, aesthetically pleasing servery, and deliciously unavoidable dessert. Cons: You can’t avoid dessert or the constant stream of freshman (sorry about that!). Also, the décor is slightly off putting (though I guess the “Modern as Bad Children’s Art” movement wasn’t their fault).
Pros: Great pulled pork, a warm, intimate seating arrangement, and a very “Old Harvard” feel. Cons: Servery access seems limited with the way the food is set up, and there are no napkins on the tables (evidently, the House Masters want to uphold classy standards so they don’t allow them). Also, transit to and from the dining hall is potentially dangerous.
Pros: Great vodka sauce, a welllit, welcoming dining hall, a view of the Charles,and a nicely mixed seating arrangement. Cons: Difficult to find (follow the noise of clanking dishes overhead), and, as Gary commented, it’s somehow reminiscent of Lamont.
A freshman grades the house dining halls.
Pros: I happen to love abnormally shaped windows, so I very much appreciated the view from the rotunda looking out onto the Quad. The dining hall had a quiet, warm atmosphere, and the servery looks like an Olive Garden. Great cupcakes. Cons: The ceilings are stiflingly low, and other than its architecture, the dining hall is rather bland.
Pros: Lovely, wall-length windows with the “Old Harvard” feel. Cons: Unexpectedly average. Again with the plastic cups!
Pros: Interestingly shaped trays that facilitate friends sitting at the end of tables and a spontaneous desire to do a puzzle. Like Cabot, the servery looks like an Olive Garden. Multi-level seating makes eating seem more exotic. Cons: Anything would make eating here seem more exotic.
Pros: Beautiful architectural style. Cons: Not the best food and the dining hall is a little too small.
Pros: Especially good food, well organized/accessible servery, and friendly staff. Cons: The dining hall resembles (take your pick) a retirement home, a dingy airport lounge, or a hospital for the criminally insane. I suppose the fluorescent lighting on the beige carpet doesn’t help the aura.
Pros: Due to dining restrictions, there won’t be freshmen in your dining hall. Cons: You can’t read about it in this article.
Unfortunately, I was also unable to dine at Winthrop, but you can rest assured that what was good enough for the Kennedys is good enough for you. Christine Wolfe ’14 (cwolfe@college) really should have worn her stretchy pants last weekend.
It’s Not the End of the World
A plea for composure.
’m sorry to disappoint the critics, but this is less of an objective piece of high-caliber journalism than an exhortation to every freshman: as you may already know, housing decisions come out in exactly one week. We’ve all blocked! The drama, for now, is over. Each one of us more or less knows the people whom we’ll spend our time with for the next four years. There will be no more awkward conversations with people trying to rope us into their blocking groups, no more dilemmas, no more consternation. Nothing. Of course, now that everything’s set in stone, it’s natural to be nervous for what will happen next week amidst the midterms, projects, readings, and sections our professors have so carelessly assigned. Yet we
By GARY GERBRANDT and Pennypacker: really very little distinguishes between them, other than a few minutes’ walk or a quick shuttle ride, perhaps. No matter where you live next year, you are guaranteed to meet awesome people, both upperclassmen and fellow rising sophomores, with whom you will share Stein Clubs, parties, a hugely convenient dining hall, and a more relaxed social environment. And, as the other articles in this issue demonstrate (whether sarcastically or honestly), each House has something that makes it special. Most importantly, you must remember that things are going to be fine. Really. I promise. You’re going to like your House. Don’t even start to think otherwise. Open your mind to the possibilities, and
"No matter where you live next year, you are guaranteed to meet awesome people" needn’t be concerned. Housing Day is one of the most fun days of the year, filled with shows of spirit everywhere, and wild celebrations that will stretch right into Spring Break. In other words, no matter what House becomes our own, the parties surrounding finding that out will be awesome. As much as it is pointless to obsess over something entirely random, and to discover some calculus formula composed of allergies, AEO forms, and arguments with the housing office that will give you the key to your ideal House, there are dozens of students who are, at this very moment, stressing out over what will happen. Honestly, the stress isn’t worth it. Every House is good House, just for different reasons. Think of the difference between Adams and Mather like the one between Weld
embrace what comes along. Don’t be that girl who cried when she got Quadded. Just don’t! It’s not worth it — not for the people who deliver your letter, for your blockmates, or for yourself. On Thursday morning, the only freaking out should be in excitement. Stay calm, and breathe. Don’t lose your mind. I know that this sounds like a dictum to fifties housewives in the pages of a relentlessly normative Home and Family Magazine, but please. Keep your composure, because this is going to be fine, no matter what. It’s really not the end of the world, as you and I are both bound to discover at exactly 8:35 a.m. on Thursday. Gary Gerbrandt ’14 (garygerbrandt@college) reminds freshmen that if everybody stays calm, no one gets hurt. 03.03.11 • The Harvard Independent
Should We Have A Voice in the Choice? Housing Rights
By MEGHAN BROOKS
s housing day draws closer and nightmares of Cabot dance like malignant sugar plums through the heads of nervous freshmen, I can’t help but wonder why the Office of Student Life forces us to submit to Fortune’s capricious wheel in the form of the annual housing lottery. Why do they make us suffer so? Why must we leave the next three years of our lives in the hands of fate? The housing lottery as it stands borders on cruel, and worst of all, it taunts us with the knowledge that it wasn’t always this way: the housing system only became a randomized lottery in 1998. Proponents of randomized housing placement argue that the system contributes to diversity within the houses, ensuring that each and every house is a veritable microcosm of the student body itself. They argue that this diversity, along with a strong sense of “we all got stuck in Dunster together” makes for a strong house community. Now, I’m all for “community” and “diversity,” but I can counter those words with one that’s much more powerful: freedom. Freedom is what the completely randomized housing lottery has taken from us, Harvard students once proudly ranked their house preferences, or even— gasp! — applied for spots in coveted houses! The college once recognized that we were adult enough to make these decisions for ourselves. Unfortunately for us, it seems that these days have long passed us by — we are now too far from housing applications to go back. However, we may not be too far gone to find a middle ground. The lottery system I propose, a round-based system, is akin to some systems the college has used in the
The Harvard Independent • 03.03.11
past, relatively random, and, above all else, fair. About two weeks before housing day, blocking groups, which would still be comprised of up to eight people, would enter their e-mail addresses into a computer system as a group just as we do now, but would designate one member to be the group’s “bidder.” By the next morning this group would be randomly assigned to one of a large number of housing slots (Monday 10:00-11:00, Wednesday 1:00-2:00, etc.), and it is in this randomly assigned window of time that the group’s bidder would chose his or her group’s house online. House availability would be determined by the number of beds left for males and females, meaning that if there were seven beds left for females and two beds lefts for males in Adams, a blocking group with four males and four females would not be able to live in Adams, but a group with six females and two males would. With this system, linking groups would be rendered unnecessary, and, of course, students with special housing requirements would be housed before the lottery system began. The system I propose would undoubtedly be more difficult for the administration. It would perhaps be more stressful for students, and may even allow certain houses to cater to certain student demographics. However, it would also respect students’ wishes, creating house communities full of students who actually chose to live there, a simple change that would increase house spirit along the River and in the Quad alike, and would make the houses homes. Meghan Brooks ’14 (meghanbrooks@college) thinks housing roulette is too much of a gamble.
Shake It Up!
By GARY GERBRANDT
t is easy to argue that housing assignments should depend on the opinions of that year’s freshmen. People make friends and want to live in the same house, but can’t block with them; people are drawn to a House full of Republicans, band members, or insane drunken partiers; nobody wants to live in Cabot; and so on. That system worked well until 1998, when housing was first randomized — but, surprisingly, things haven’t devolved into a horrid chaos in the years since. Everyone waits eagerly for the day that they receive their housing decision. It’s not a time full of dread, or pained soul-searching. It’s a happy, memorable right of passage, which establishes a new relationship between a student and his or her Harvard. While some people do mindlessly waste their time and emotions on trying to crack the system or by setting their hopes on House X, Housing Day itself is so fantastic and the idea of House life is so enticing that keeping things random makes sense. With only a few fleeting days to go until March 10, the freshmen are excited to get their Houses, and the upperclassmen are excited to welcome the new freshmen and/or get plastered “at six in the morning,” as one Mather junior plans to. It’s an exciting time and knowing in advance which House you would be living in would ruin the surprise. It would suck all the fun out of not knowing and take us all back to a boring predetermined fate. Beyond just the fun of it,
randomized housing’s many practical improvements over past systems make it a better choice for everyone. By virtue of its randomness, the current housing lottery promotes a better distribution of people within social groups, and decentralizes the high school-ish cliques that form in the Yard. It revitalizes the social life of every freshman tired of sussing out the one party in Straus and forces people to start anew, making friends and building on prior connections quickly. It stops people from attaching themselves to any particular House, and opens them up to the waves of House spirit that originate on the fantastic Thursday that is Housing Day. It even lets the students who work themselves up about the situation to calm down and enjoy the ride. Sure, it might be nice to be in the same House as all of your friends, or in the House nearest to your favorite final club, or in any House but those of the Quad, but it’s just as nice to have some insane festivities and get super-excited in the buildup to the moment when the envelopes come to the door. Housing Day is meant to be fun and its randomness is a hugely important part of that. Besides, housing really isn’t worth the consternation — no matter where we freshmen end up, it is guaranteed that we’ll be opening doors and cheering hysterically for a new crop of House-bound freshmen a year from now. Gary Gerbrandt ’14 (garygerbrandt@ college) is enjoying the suspense. firstname.lastname@example.org
From Houses to Homes ADAMS
I love living in Adams House. Ask anyone who knows me—my friends, my parents, even the visitors to Harvard that I give campus tours for. I consider my placement into Adams House one of the luckiest things that happened to me at Harvard, and for very good reasons too. Nested within the three buildings that make up the House are splendid architecture (walls of gold and a beautiful library), proud history (FDR lived here!), cool amenities (we have a printing press, an organ, and built-in bookshelves in our rooms), and a super-convenient tunnel system, which all residents come to love. Of course, no one can discount Adams’ prime real estate. There’s truth in the saying “if you lived in Adams, you’d be home now.” But perhaps the best thing about Adams is the people. The Housemasters, tutors, staff, and fellow students are all wonderful. There is a genuine sense of community fostered through our community dinner nights, weekly Carpe Diems and Housemasters’ teas, an extremely lively e-mail list, and quirky Adams House-only traditions that you learn about if you’re a lucky resident here. I could go on and on about why Adams is the best House, but I won’t, because you already knew that.
Helen Yang is a junior concentrating in History and Science. CABOT
Cabot House is the hidden gem of the Harvard house system. Many people do not realize how nice rooms are in Cabot. I mean, Cabot life is nice. Really nice. If you want a single, you can get a single, and if you want a suite, you can often get a really nice set up (check out the “Cabot Cribs” video). Out of the many N+1 suites, the Library Suite is the most well known for its ability to throw both classy and raucous events. So the rooms are nice… what about house life? Cabot definitely has a vibrant culture that is centered on the dining hall, where students congregate at all hours. The facilities in Cabot are second to none; they feature an amazing gym, media center, music room, darkroom, theater, cinema, and the most pianos of any house at Harvard. At its heart, Cabot House is one family. We have the best and most approachable staff. Our tutors, housemasters, and alumni play active participants in the community and help arrange many events that allow you drink with the founder of Sam Adams, act in a Broadway musical, construct an igloo, and air your grievances at Festivus. We are the Quad. Semper Cor (Always Heart)!
James Hawrot is a junior concentrating in Human Evolutionary Biology. CURRIER
Currier is the best house on campus—and really, that’s all you need to know about it, because it’s true. However, because some of my less fortunate peers are going to try to convince you that their houses are superior, I will briefly explain why Currier reigns supreme. First and foremost: location. Before you laugh, I want you to look at Currierites in comparison to river dwellers. We are soooo much skinnier. Yes, there is a very convenient shuttle to and from the Quad, but those of us who chose to walk the ten minutes to class are undeniably svelte. We are not, however, as skinny as Pfoho or Cabot, which is fine, because those extra few pounds come from having the highest-rating dining hall on campus. In addition to having the hottest housemates and the most gastronomically satisfying grub, Currier is home to some of the best housing. Currier’s rooms are modern and spacious—even lowly sophomores are almost always guaranteed singles (and we use them, wink wink)—and seniors have access to excellent common rooms, kitchens, and wrap-around balconies. If you’re looking to party, we may not have a bell tower, but we do have the Ten Man, the best dance space on campus that is nothing less than “heavenly” come Halloween. Really though, what truly defines Currier is our scream-aloud, tree-hugging, run-around-naked house spirit. “Whose house?’ “C HOUSE!” And don’t you forget it.
Evelyn Wenger is a senior concentrating in Government.
I love Dunster because of the people. The beautiful dining hall facilitates all sorts of conversations at every hour of the day, and friendly faces greet you every meal, and there is always a friendly and often hilarious answer to any question over Mooselist. We have crazy amazing house spirit, as anyone who has come to a Dunster Happy Hour can attest. Happy Hours usually devolve into themed house-wide dance parties. Our facilities are awesome: a gorgeous library, a cardio room (often visited by Lev residents!), weight room, erg room, squash courts, basketball court, wallyball court, Dunster Grille for delicious late-night munchies, a pottery studio, and the standard foosball, ping pong table, and pool table. We have a wonderful Culinary Team that cooks for Masters› Open Houses once a month (these are all Dunster students, and get paid for doing so) and an Intramurals team that seeks to win without sacrificing House spirit and participation. When it comes to what you›ll remember about your time at Harvard, it›s the people and the spirit and the community that will matter. Room sizes? Some people in Dunster actually get spacious rooms every year. Yes, some sophomores will get small rooms, and yes, there are walk-throughs, but you know what? Everyone survives, everyone comes out of it with great stories, but most importantly, everyone comes out of the experience better people for learning how to live with others. If all you care about is how many square feet you get for your possessions, sure, hope for the Quad. But if you want a place to call home for the next three years, there›s no place like Dunster. Whose House?! DHOUSE!
Susan Zhu is a senior concentrating in Government. ELIOT
Eliot House epitomizes what river houses are all about. We have a classic hardwood dining hall, spectacular views of the Charles, and a beautiful, spacious courtyard complete with terrace. Eliot is a house with unsurpassed social space; the dining hall serves as the nexus of social life during the winter months, while the terrace and courtyard are abuzz with life during the warmer months. The House also brings students together in its movie theater “The Golden Arm”, and Grille “The Inferno”. We are notorious for our history as the House of the Northeastern Elite, a bastion of champion rowers and Rhodes scholars. This inclination continues to permeate House life, as the general attitude of the residents is to aim for class (without the pretentiousness that characterizes Adams), and by the dominating presence of the Eliot Boat Club within the intramural sphere. Housemasters Doug and Gail Melton are new to the house this year, but are open and friendly. The strong start to their tenure brings with it the promise that the coming years in Eliot House will be great ones. Brett Giblin is a senior concentrating in Molecular and Cellular Biology.
Kirkland House is undeniably, entirely, and absolutely the single greatest House on campus, bravely rising above the Cabots and Winthrops of the College to stand for the values of spirit, honor, and incest. Although residents of the Harvard Timbuktu that is the Quad may mock us for our cozy rooms and occasional indoor wildlife sightings, when it comes to quality of life, no other house can compete. Kirkland is home to milk and warm cookies at the Boat Club on Sunday nights, to the lovely Hicks House library, to hammocks strung across the courtyard on warm spring days, and to the best House spirit events on campus. In December, Kirkland is especially entertaining; the holiday festivities begin with Secret Santa, a House-wide game wherein Kirklanders are randomly assigned fellow residents to lavish gifts and favors upon for the week leading up to the skits and festivities that make up the annual Holiday Dinner. What residents really look forward to, however, is that night’s party, IncestFest, where inter- house action is practically guaranteed. All debauchery aside, Kirkland’s small, tightknit community is truly what makes this House a home. Whether it be in the cozy dining hall, the now-defunct Grille, or the stately JCR, residents are sure to find the friendly faces of their housemates anywhere they chose to roam.
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03.03.11 • The Harvard Independent
Leverett is the epitome of the house system’s successes. Living in Lev is the perfect amalgamation of family, fun, food, and friends. Our House Masters (Chief and Coach), in collaboration with our phenomenal team of tutors, cultivate a warm and inviting atmosphere, so much so that our Masters’ Open Houses are often infiltrated by non-Leverites who have been hooked on our monkey bread (yes it is addictive). Our dining hall is clearly the most popular on the River, as we create a welcoming environment that attracts a melting pot of moose, penguins, and various other River-dwelling creatures. Thursday night Community Dinners ensure that Leverite bunnies get a chance to dine with their fellow members of the leporidae family, excluding any other usual guests to the burrow. Leverett Stein Clubs are the best Friday night parties on campus, the weekly atmosphere ranging from a relaxed bar setting to a Lady Gaga video. Our kegs are always empty, our wine bottles bare, and our party platters depleted by the end of the night. It goes without saying that these events are also frequented by a variety of other woodland creatures as well. Lev HoCo mixes drinks at the Harvard-Yale tailgate and drops beats at the semi-annual Blackout Dance with equally reckless abandon. For our formals, we take it to the “Top” or put together a “Royale” occasion in our gorgeous McKinlock courtyard. There really is no better place to live. Lavinia Mitroi is a junior concentrating in History and Science.
I would say Lowell House has the best location of any of the 12 upperclassman Houses on campus, as it’s conveniently set in the middle of all the other River Houses, making it easy to get to Quincy or Kirkland or Mather. It also has the most beautiful bell tower of all, especially at night when it’s lit up. The courtyards are beautiful as well during every season, with leaves falling during the fall, the snow falling down during the winter, and a fresh gust of wind during the spring. Not only is Lowell beautiful, however, but it comes with special privileges as well, like the Lowell-only access to the back gate. When people ask you to swipe out the back, that brief moment of power is actually intoxicating. I should also mention the many food places that are all literally a two-minute walk—Starbucks, Berryline, Felipe’s, Qdoba, JP Licks—just to name a few. And to make up for all the eating, I should mention that the MAC is very close by, making going to the gym much less of a struggle! The river is right there too, if you want to go for a run in the spring breeze. Why anyone would ever want to leave Lowell, however, even for a springtime run, I can’t say. Lillian Zhao is a junior concentrating in Molecular and Cellular Biology.
For so many, the imposing (read: aesthetically challenged) face of Mather makes a rough first impression. I experienced this disappointment myself when, as a freshman hoping to live in majestic house of red brick, I found myself planning for three years in what one of my blocks scornfully called a concrete box. Then I got my first key to a glorious single. Now, though, that I’m on my second key to a glorious single, I realize that I enjoy the best living arrangement on campus, a shuttle bus that runs right to my front door, and a view of the river in my dining hall. Better yet, I get to look at the pretty houses as I walk to mine confident in the knowledge that red brick often doesn’t bode well: some of my junior-year peers are still suffering in the ingloriousness of bunk beds or walk-throughs. This said, even gold can gather dust, and Mather has the disadvantage of being slightly farther away than other houses. I say slightly because the other river houses, excepting just a couple, aren’t very much closer to the yard than Mather is. My computer science friends moan about how the quad is actually closer to Maxwell-Dworkin, and as an OEB concentrator I suspect the Quad is equidistant or closer to the MCZ than Mather is. Despite these trifling realities, I am a true convert to Mather, which I suspect hosts the best of just about everything. Of course, everyone feels that way about their house. Mine just happens to be for real. Riva Riley is a junior concentrating in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. The Harvard Independent • 03.03.11
“Pfoho: We put p’s in front of f’s.” While you wont learn how to bunny or to fight off dream extractors in Pforzheimer House, you are sure to be pleased and pfilled with plenty of House spirit. Located in the gorgeous Radcliffe Quadrangle, Pforzheimer House pfeatures a gorgeous grass lawn, similar to the National Mall, perfect for outdoor events or just chilling with pfriends, an adorable cobblestone walkway reminiscent of a quaint Dutch town and a breathtaking exterior pfaçade that impresses both visitors and longtime residents alike. Though both beautiful and spacious – plenty of singles to go around – the best part about Pfoho is the pervasive House spirit. Though some may argue that the quad is pfar, living in Pfoho makes pformer pfreshmen glad that the Housing Gods acted pfavorably towards them last March. Pfobros and pfohos definitely embrace the house culture, which is reflected in the fact that Pfoho’s parties have become campus favorites. Yearly parties and events like the famed “Make It Rain” Party and the drag pageant “Ms. Pfoho” attract large crowds of underclassmen as well as residents of other Houses who can only look on in envy, wishing that they too had been placed in Pfoho. With the ideal location, away from the hustle and bustle of central Cambridge, the cold of the Charles River, and the noise pollution from Massachusetts Avenue, Pfoho provides a lovely and relaxing haven which Pfoho residents are proud to call their home.
Quincy House definitely takes the early-bird prize for first housing video, and what a video it was! An artful blend of excitement and house pride, Quincy’s Housing Day video was a version of the 2010 blockbuster hit Inception staring Leonardo Di Caprio. As soon as it was released, Quincy’s Quinception video was a hit with the freshmen, who quickly forwarded it along the lists and sent it around on Facebook. Quincy House has a few distinct architectural features that add to its uniqueness, including the dining hall with a rooftop view of the businesses and restaurants on Mt. Auburn Street. Sitting in the dining hall gives you the impression that you could potentially sit there forever and just watch the world go by. Quincy also has a stone patio/courtyard perfect for outdoor barbecues and other social gatherings. (For example, when I came for Pre-frosh Weekend, Fuerza Latina hosted a cookout in that space). Possibly the most notable architectural feature of Quincy is its distinctive “floating library”. Quincy’s location is far enough from the hustle and bustle to achieve tranquility, but close enough to still be in the mix of things, Quincy provides a great living setting. (Another plus is that Quincy is the closest house to Harvard Hillel, the on campus center for Jewish life, culture, and FOOD). Lastly, Quincy’s adorable penguin mascot reminds students of the penguins in the movie Happy Feet, which is a cheerful sight and a reminder of childhood for otherwise stressed and busy college students.
House spirit is virtually synonymous with Winthrop, having won the Straus Cup for the past three years and a definite contender for this year’s title as intramural championship. If you are varsity athlete, the proximity to both the boathouses and the athletic facilities across the river is a definite plus. One of the hallmarks of Winthrop life is the quaint, inward-facing courtyard that offers privacy and a beautiful place to hang out with friends. When warmer temperatures finally arrive in Cambridge, you can look forward to sitting out on the patio or on the tire swing and enjoying an unparalleled view of the river. Another favorite place for Winthrop residents to hang out is the dining hall which is conveniently segregated into two sections so people can both work productively and interact in a social setting. While the rooming situation in Winthrop is average at best, the common spaces such as the Tonkens Room are among the nicest House facilities on-campus. And we can’t forget that Winthrop also boasts an impressive list of alumni including former U.S. President John F. Kennedy ’40 and Senator Edward M. Kennedy ’54-’56.
Between a Block and a Hard Place
The end of blocking season. By Kalyn Saulsberry
oommates. They are the first people we college students see in the morning and the last people we see at night. They are the people who tolerate snoring and weird habits. They are there for the all-nighters, the birthday celebrations, and the hard times. Regardless of how well roommates get along, they inevitably get to know each other on a deep level over a short period of time. College roommates often develop knowledge of each other in ways that sometimes rival how well students know friends from home whom they have known their entire lives. The unique bond that forms from the experience of living as college roommates, whether positive or negative, is one that requires patience, tolerance, and compromise. Roommates can be some of the most important relationships a person has on campus, but a negative relationship with one’s roommates can have adverse effects on every aspect of a student’s life. The importance of roommates is one reason why blocking is such a source of such duress during freshman year. Six months ago on August 26, 2010, the class of 2014 met their roommates with a clean slate. They had filled out the uniquely detailed Harvard housing form, outlining their sleep schedules, outgoingness, neatness, interests, musical tastes, extracurricular activities, and any other miscellaneous details. After filling out the housing form, the housing fates of the freshman class were in the hands of the four resident deans who worked meticulously throughout the summer to create rooms of freshmen from all over the world that would not only be compatible, but would hopefully lead to the formation of lasting friendships. After a semester and a half of college, it is now in the hands of freshman to determine whom they
Maria Barragan-Sanatana / INDEPENDENT
will live with for the next three years of their Harvard experience. The blocking tool opened at eight on Monday morning and closed at eight yesterday morning. A blocking group may contain two to eight students who are guaranteed to live in the same house, but not necessarily in the same suite. A blocking group may link with one other blocking group, which will permit the groups to remain in the same neighborhood, but not in the same house. Even though the blocking tool was only open for thirty-six short hours, the stress of blocking has plagued the freshman class for months. To prepare the class for blocking, each freshman dorm entryway had an
people they had only recently become acquainted. That was no easy task. In mid-February, Dean Tom Dingman sent an e-mail to the class of 2014 reminding them that, despite the various scenarios involving changing minds, dealing with a group larger than eight, or avoiding conversations altogether, freshmen should remember that “empathy matters.” Situations where blocking groups were full or friendships were one-sided were particularly difficult: no one wants to be told that they are not a part of a blocking group at the last minute, but, at the same time, no one wants to be the bearer of bad news either. Nevertheless, open conversations were necessary. The blocking group comprises the people who are guaranteed to live in close proximity for three years, so it is important for them to be compatible. Part of the trouble with blocking stemmed from the fact that it required students to draw the distinction between their friends and people they want to live with. One can become good friends with his or her freshmen roommates, but good friends do not necessarily translate into people who can live comfortably together. Blocking threatened to put strains on new friendships, but it also had the potential to strain relationships among couples that have arisen in the freshman class. Most proctors and PAFs advised against blocking with significant others because relationships may change over the three years. Living in close proximity to someone after a breakup could potentially create uncomfortable conditions. As an alternative to blocking, students had the option of floating. Under this circumstance, a person enters the housing lottery solo and will be assigned a roommate once they enter a house. According to PAFs, few, if any, are disappointed by their decision to float. Whether or not a person is floating or in a blocking group, the entire freshman class is now in the same boat eagerly anticipating the morning of Thursday, March 10, when they will at last find out which one of the twelve houses they will call home for the remainder of their time at Harvard.
hour-long study break dedicated to the topic. Freshmen gained advice from Peer Advising Fellows (PAFs) who had already experienced blocking. Uniformly, the PAFs stressed that although it seems like a big deal freshman year, blocking does not prove crucial to the college experience for the next three years because the houses present plenty of opportunities for making new friends. Additionally, the Office of Student Life held events throughout the month of February in the hopes of assuaging fears and eliminating the myths about blocking. While blocking does not determine specific roommates, it provided a source of anxiety to freshman because Kalyn Saulsberry ’14 (ksaulsberry@college) is it required honest conversations with looking forward to her housing letter! 03.03.11 • The Harvard Independent
Pop Culture And the Oscar Goes To… Arts
Does it really matter what we think?
few weeks ago, I ended my article that analyzed the results of the Golden Globes with the hopes that the Oscars wouldn’t screw it up. My fears came true anyway. The Oscars didn’t disappoint — they lived up to the previous precedents of bad judgment. Here are the big winners of the night: T h e K i n g ’s S p e e c h ( B e s t Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor): Colin Firth was at his very best, in a challenging role and the supporting cast was magnificent. I think Firth’s performance is one of the best in recent times, right alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote. At the same time, I think Best Picture is too farfetched. I know the jury loves movies that are inspirational, but I felt that while wonderfully executed, the movie never reached that peak. Also, Tom Hooper, while great in presenting the material he was given, isn’t the best pick. The story itself was quite compelling — it was a historical drama with a strong protagonist, and he also had the luxury of seasoned performers.
Juxtaposed with David Fincher’s brilliant rendering of The Social Network, it hardly seems fair to pit a movie with such a strong plot against one so difficult to direct. To begin with, all the characters in the movie are still alive and furthermore, and it’s not exactly a topic that makes for a great cinematic experience. A bunch of nerds on their computers and lawyers in deliberation turned into a thrilling experience solely because of Fincher. He also had to direct a crop of newcomers. At the very least, the Academy should have divided the top honors between The King’s Speech and The Social Network. The Social Network (Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Editing) and Inception (Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects): While The Social Network should have won in at least one of the two major categories (Picture, Director), it still ended up with three wins. None of these are really surprises — the score of the movie especially was instrumental in heightening the experience and the crisp editing of the movie was also
And the Winner is…. John Legend and the Roots break ground in Wake Up! BY BRAD ROSE The Harvard Independent • 02.24.11
o p e o p l e remember when Nelly and Tim Mcgraw teamed up to produce the single “Over and Over” a decade ago? Probably not, and neither do I. Why? Because genre-defying musical collaborations can be tough. Personally, I think rap and country music are like peanut butter and pesto: great on their own, but they should never be on the same sandwich or album for that matter. This year’s Grammys, however, showed us that not all musical sandwiches are distasteful. John Legend and the Roots took home two Grammys this year: one for best R&B song (“Shine”), and best R&B album (“Wake Up!”). Unlike Nelly and Tim Mcgraw, John Legend
BY SAYANTAN DEB
one the reasons this very banal topic became such a wonderful adventure. The movie’s screenplay was impeccable, and especially a challenge because it tries to capture events very fresh in people’s memories. Inception was ignored in most of the major categories, and once again, Nolan was overlooked. The Fighter (Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress), Toy Story 3 (Best Animated Feature, Best Original Song), and Alice in Wonderland (Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction): All three movies deserved the awards they got. Melissa Leo and Christian Bale lit up the screen in The Fighter. They added character to Mark Wahlberg’s somewhat two-dimensional performance, and gave the movie and soul. There are very few trilogies that can claim to have three movies which are equally good, or where the sequel comes at par or surpasses the original. The Godfather, and The Lord of the Rings come into mind. The animated equivalent of these is definitely Toy Story. The magic of friendship has rarely been so completely, intimately, or tenderly explored. I hate to admit it as a Burton fan myself, but Alice in Wonderland, at least in my opinion, is perhaps Tim Burton’s weakest work. However, the movie still has signature
and the Roots were meant to make music together. As soon as ?uestlove pounds the snare and the album kicks off with “Hard Times,” there is no sense of collaboration. Instead, it feels as though this “supergroup” has been playing together since they first picked up their instruments. This is true for the Roots, but incorporating such a star as Legend so seamlessly into their music is something that deserves, well, a Grammy (or two). Although the genre gap between the two artists is not as big as the schism between rap and country, the difference in style is something that the Recording Academy most definitely took into consideration. John Legend continues to be a rising star since his debut album “Get
Burton touches, and the interpretation lends itself to great scope for art and costume, both of which the movie excelled and garnered recognition for. How I wish the movie had a soul to make the technicalities worth it. I would like to add a small shout-out to Natalie Portman. She brought life to Black Swan, and her performance is the only reason that it becomes special. Unfortunately, Mila Kunis was snubbed for a brilliant performance. She at least deserved a nomination. Anne Hathaway and James Franco were actually quite good as hosts for the evening. I was apprehensive about the pairing first, but Hathaway was wonderful as the surprisingly more subdued of the duo, while Franco pulled out his quirky best. Unfortunately, the Academy did little to reflect this spirit in its award choices, giving away the top honors to the predictable and proper films. Here’s hoping that the jury finds a new voice before we all get tired of its choices. Sayantan Deb ’14 (sayantandeb@ college) would like to believe that he is not a sore loser.
Lifted” in 2004. The Roots, however, have established themselves as veterans in the hiphop society. Although less mainstream, the musicianship and quality of music has garnered the group respect that is increasingly harder to come by in a musical culture that continues to move away from “real” music and into a scary underworld where the demons of auto-tune seem to be omnipresent. Those demons, however, are easily pushed to the periphery by the heavy dosage of funk that the Roots bring. Legend succeeds in adapting his more “poppy” style of piano playing to a sound that is more hip-hop than R&B. The different, yet equally retro, styles of John Legend and the
Roots are what make “Wake Up!” such a great listen. For a few moments, especially during tracks like “Compared to What” and “Hard Times,” it felt like I was transported to a different era. I had forgotten all about T-Pain and Kanye West, and had remembered the lost art that was soul music in the early 1970’s. Legend seems to be channelling the godfathers of soul (think Marvin Gaye/ Stevie Wonder) to create a fitting tribute to what was. For those old-school fans out there, all we can do is hope this seamless collaboration continues. A man can dream right? Brad Rose ’14 (brose@ college) may have found his favorite kind of sandwich.
Can You Feel the Beat? A look at this year’s Cultural Rhythms
t is a difficult thing, trying to put on a display of “culture.” The line between an appreciation of different cultural forms and the appropriation of rich and complex traditions merely for the sake of spectacle is a hazy one at best, and while one can often lead to a more open communication and admiration, the other can all too easily reinforce misconceptions. While creating awareness can never truly be a bad thing, especially when that awareness comes through brilliant displays of sheer talent, it is more problematic to see how far that awareness can go when given without context. Sitting squarely within this tangle of questions is the 26th annual Cultural Rhythms, presented by the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations: brilliant in its execution, a testament to the creativity and dedication of Harvard Students, but perhaps slightly muddled in its ultimate purpose. From a sultry rumba and energetic mambo of the Harvard Ballroom Dance Team, to the intricate movements and elaborate costumes of Harvard Deepam, it was clear that each performing group spared no expense in their preparations, committed to stunning the audience with fantastic displays of skill. Nor is there any doubt that the festival was a chance for the broader Harvard community to be exposed to certain cultural expressions that many would otherwise have no chance of seeing; the flourished skirts of the Ballet Folklorico de Aztlán and the pounding rhythms of the Pan-African Dance and Music Ensemble, for example, demonstrated the degree to which Cultural Rhythms was able to showcase the varied groups on campus. One must wonder, though, how effective are such displays in truly reaching the goal of Cultural Rhythms, that is, to “improve[ing] intercultural understanding and fellowship.” Has the audience truly gained a deeper appreciation of these cultures simply in watching these performances, performances which, as the Wushu group readily admits in their program entry, may have been modified simply to put on a better show? What level of appreciation can there be when email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
BY MARC SHI
many of these performances are seen out of the context of their conception, detached from their historical and social significances? Of course, the performances were only one aspect of the show, and for many, the real reason for being there was to see the Artist of the Year, Shakira. From the murmurs of excitement, to the hovering of cameras, to the faint groans of disappointment every time a door was opened only to reveal a security guard, there was no denying the anticipation of seeing the She-Wolf herself. However, it was clear from the moment she arrived that Shakira, dressed in a casual black top and jeans, was not there as Shakira the performer or Shakira the celebrity. In fact, sitting at the edge of the stage, speaking with two members of each group as they finished their performances, she seemed almost uncomfortable, at a loss for words. Perhaps this was all for the better, however, as the casual nature of her appearance allowed the Colombian singer to show a certain warmth and humor that can rarely be exhibited amidst the fiery energy of her performances. Bobbing her head along to the music, amiably agreeing to sing some of her hit song “Waka Waka,” even spontaneoulsy joining in the dancing in the finale of the show, Shakira showed that
quality most desired in a celebrity appearance: a genuine appreciation and enjoyment of being there. For the singer, however, this was not just to a chance to relax, to tell her mother that she “got into Harvard,” as she jokingly mentioned, but also an opportunity to speak about an issue particularly important to her: global universal education. After an address from Dr. Counter, director of the Harvard Foundation, and Dean Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions, who discussed the growing diversity within the College, Shakira took the stage, addressing Sanders Theatre with a call to action to provide educational opportunities for children around the world. Referencing both the poverty and social inequalities she experience growing up in Colombia, as well as the wealth of opportunity and advantage given to students of Harvard, she spoke to the need to increase access to education. She further stressed that this was work that must be done, not by large governments and private corporations, but by grassroots organizations and movements within the broader public. “I’m just a small woman with a big mouth,” she stated, to the laughter of the crowd and the click of cameras, and in front of a thousand College students on Saturday, she used that “big mouth” to spread a big message.
In so doing, she accomplished in part what the show as a whole could not — using the joy and excitement surrounding her appearance to present a concrete call to action. Cultural Rhythms was, in many ways, an astounding success. The dedication of its organizers, the skill and commitment of its performers and — of course — a little star power from Shakira, together were able to create a day of brilliant spectacle, of awe-inspiring feats, dazzling displays of artistry. At the same time, one wonders if it will truly have the broader impact that it hoped for. While Shakira’s message of education rang clear across Sanders Theatre, it is difficult to say if the same can be said about the Harvard Foundation’s goal of creating a deeper appreciation of the diversity found at the College. Of course, it is clear that the Foundation does not see this past weekend’s celebration as the beall and end-all of its work. There is still a long road ahead towards the development of intercultural relations, and if the first steps on that road are not walked, but rather danced, sung, and Irish-jigged, what harm can there be in that? Marc Shi ’14 (mshi14@college) will keep hoping for greater cultural understanding through art.
02.24.11 • The Harvard Independent
Come Out and Play Ask not what your house can do for you, ask what you can do for your house. By BRETT MICHAEL GIBLIN
Maria Barragan-Santana / INDEPENDENT
n obvious difference between freshman accommodations and house life is the presence of the dining hall — not only in the sense of proximity to your room, but also the importance of this space in social interactions between students of various classes, concentrations, genders, and personalities. But one of the other great (and underappreciated) spheres through which rising sophomores can interact with upper classmen of all backgrounds is through intramurals. The intramural program is one of the principle ways that one can become involved with house life, without the rigors or political battles that may be inherent in the structure of other student organizations that govern aspects of house life (e.g. certain House Committees). As proof of its ability to bring people together, allow me to relay a personal anecdote. I met one of my future roommates playing intramural softball for Eliot during the spring of freshman year (albeit unbeknownst to me, my involvement was not exactly legal), 10
and began bonding the next fall during our championship run in Ultimate Frisbee. The beauty of the system is that there is almost always something going on, due to a program that much expands on the skeleton of sports that constitute the battle for the Yard Bucket. It does not matter if you are work is oscillating busy or ridiculously busy one night, there is always a game to be played — should you be able to find an hour or two to squeeze it in. The history of the intramural program at Harvard is rich and the rewards for winning extend far beyond those garnered by friendly competition. The quest for the Straus Cup takes the natural rivalries between the houses and amplifies them; like any good rivalry, this is when the houses take on distinct personalities. For instance, my native Eliot House takes its perception as a bastion of championship rowers very seriously. As a result, the time and energy that goes into the Eliot Boat Club dwarfs
the rest of the intramural program in entirety. Former Housemasters Lino Pertile and Anna Bensted commissioned the production of a Women’s Rowing trophy (the Stone Plate) to accompany the Straus Cup, which has been present at every Open House or major house event for years. Kirkland’s small, tight-knit (affectionately referred to as “incestuous”) community shows on the IM fields, where despite small numbers, their teams never lack for participation or show any divisiveness. Winthrop and Leverett, two of the perennial, principle challengers for the Cup show incredible organization, with large numbers, coaches, and even rotation schemes for most of the sports. Despite the fact that the quad houses have to travel much greater distances to the facilities, their teams do an excellent job of showing up and playing hard, even if they sometimes arrive late. How well they are able to marshal people to
make it across the river and compete in such numbers shows how hard the Intramural secretaries for Cabot, Pforzheimer, and Currier work at and their passions for the game. So this is my advice to the Class of 2014 as Housing Day approaches: I cannot impress enough how rewarding it is being involved with house intramurals. One may not have any experience in the sport that is being played, or may feel that his or her abilities are not up to snuff. Still, go out and play, any House Intramural representative would tell you that they are always in need of bodies, and will find a place for people of all backgrounds. The quest for the Straus Cup may not always lead to a trophy, but it will always lead to a more fulfilling residential experience. Brett Michael Giblin ’11 (bmgiblin@ fas) hopes that Housing Day is safe and happy for all involved, and that this freshman class will decide make an impact on their IM fields. 03.03.11 • The Harvard Independent
captured & shot By MARIA BARRAGAN-SANTANA