A Dash of Insanity
There is something so twistedly beautiful about a Harvard administrative website. From the OSL, to the FAS, to the HMC, to the GFAO, and all the way to the MAC, Harvard’s sites piece together a mix of classic Harvard prestige and current bureaucratic inefficiency into modern-ish webpage designs that make you chuckle to yourself and mutter “classic.” This past spring break, during a fit of boredom, I struck Harvard administrative website gold: www.alumni.harvard.edu/college/classes.
It’s a page that contains links to the official websites of each graduating class at Harvard, since 1955. Immediately upon loading the page, you can tell that you’re in for a treat. On the left-hand-side, there is a sidebar entitled “From the Dean.” It features an oddly cropped picture of an awkwardly smiling Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael Smith, accompanied by the following quote: “To kindle understanding, to untangle knots, to inspire spirits, and to excite minds—this is the power and the passion of teaching.”
“You know who doesn’t deserve to be here?”
“I have a problem with people being sensitive f***s. Do I have white pride? F*** yeah I do… Do I think Adolf Hitler was a genuinely good person? F*** no. But I also don't give a shit if someone does… Don't be such a sensitive and defenseless person.”
It started out pretty simple. A friend of mine—a nice enough guy in high school—posted a picture of the Confederate flag on his timeline. I commented on his post. And then we came to the classic standoff: the liberty-centered conservative commenting on “un-American” identity politics and limits to freedom of speech vs. the “edgy white liberal” challenger.
The other day, I was speaking with a friend about finance. I’m interested in a career in public service, so my nuanced position on the issue was pretty predictable: “Finance is bad. Very, very bad. I hate everyone in finance. Bad banks are powerful and ruin economies and are bad. Bad, bad, bad, bad.”
Having actually done a finance internship, my friend had more optimistic and more informed perspective:
There was this freshman girl in my section last semester. But she wasn’t just any girl. She decided to do what very few girls have dared to do in my 21 years of life so far: talk to me.
She asked me what my concentration was and why I was taking the class. She asked me about my house and my roommates. She asked me about my activities and my writing. And, after class and her flurry of questions, I opened up my laptop to find a Facebook friend request waiting…from her.