Scrutiny


Volume XXXV, Issue X

Dear FM, In a blur of a few months, we have arrived at our last issue for this semester. Yet ironically, our pieces this time aren’t centered on closing doors. Instead, they’re focused on our theme for this special issue: revival. What does it mean for something to be revived? What weight might a revival itself carry? How do we start anew while carrying the vestiges of the past? Our pieces this week poke at some of those questions and more. In a funny yet profound introspection, AXN opens the issue with reflections on how shaving her head in high school taught her what attempts at starting anew are — and aren’t — about. Coming out of FM retirement — a revival in itself! — BWF examines how Disney’s rendition of the “Percy Jackson” series does and doesn’t respond to the ways the original books are more about America and its mythology than Ancient Greece. It is incisive, critical, and will absolutely make your brain gain more wrinkles just from reading it. Classic BWF! Speaking of wrinkly brains, OGP speaks to Zoë K. Hitzig ’15, an economist and prolific poet, about her interests in algorithms, privacy, poetry, and their intersections. Over the course of their conversation, Hitzig explains the “encryption” of academia and poetry, shares her worries about algorithmic control, and reveals her “classically Gen Z” niche microinterest. Writing from Rome but soon to return to FM — yet another revival! — MG blesses us with yet another yearly installment of her reflections on the past year. This time: Dear Junior Year. It is tender and genuine, a story of what it means not to grow from, but around, grief and its cold haze. (Oh, how we’ve missed you, MG, and how we love to hear how amazing your year has been.) Wrapping up our issue is one of our beloved resident creative writers EMK and her beautiful prose. This time, she reflects on translation, what is lost in it, and what a name — and thus a being and a heritage — carry. Profound and poetic, this piece invites you to think about what it means to express the untranslatable — to revive it, perhaps — through one’s life. Some big thank yous are in order for this beautiful issue! THANK YOU SET, LJPE, XCZ, JND, AND OWZ FOR ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL GLOSSY AND BEAUTIFUL DESIGNS! You carry us again and again with this, and it never fails to amaze me. Thank you all especially for your patience with delays and all the little hiccups along the way. Thank you LLL and BHP for the portraits you brought us way before we ended up needing them :’). Thank you MJH, CY, and EJS for proofing despite the boatload of news on your plate. Thank you IYG for taking in stride a piece we assigned to you last minute and for being the diligent and steadfast editor you are. Thank you AEP for so quickly churning out an awesome crossword. Thank you JL and YAK for the editing and emailing and planning help. What would we do without you? Thank you HD for problem-solving and crisis-managing with me this issue (and every issue). Last but certainly not least, THANK YOU ALL FM EXECS IYG, SSL, DRZ, AEP, GRW, STB, AEP, CK, JKW, EKS, JL (the EAL), JL (the inquiry editor), YAK, and SEW for such an amazing first semester! See you all in the fall. FMLove, HD + KT


Universities Acknowledge a Mental Health Crisis. Why Is Action So Complicated?

At the same time as civil rights law demands that universities appropriately accommodate students with disabilities, gaps between laws and their implementation make the process of reform at universities painstaking.


Volume XXXV, Issue IX

Dear FM, In keeping with the housing flexing from last week sans being public enemy #1, I am happy to announce that I will have a Fairfax studio for myself next year. (Next to our beloved MJH as well.) This means I will be doing a lot of cooking. But you know who has been doing the most cooking? That’s right, *the* iconic scrut duo KSG and GRW. Over the course of four months, for our last scrut this semester (!!!), they set out to uncover the whys and hows behind Harvard’s continuously inadequate responses to student mental health issues. Weaving together in-depth historic research, conversations with legal experts, and current events unfolding with the Luke Tang case, they highlight how stigma, the legal system, and questions about responsibility interact to impede efforts at reform. They cooked. They ate. And now you, too, will feast your eyes upon their masterpiece of a scrut. The rest of this issue also ate. We have the slayest of them all, JKW, back again with another killer piece, this time about the Law School library’s most recent exhibit, “Challenging Our Right to Read.” Part-inquiry and part-scoop, she visits the exhibit and speaks to the curators to explore questions about censorship and the politicization of literature. HWD visits the Divinity School’s Death Cafe, a space for open conversation about death and dying, and through the group, reflects on her own journey in navigating secular meaning-making. JL talks to Vera Mironova, a fellow at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, who has embedded in various warzones to understand conflict and violence through the lens of the individual. In the spirit of ~questioning~, XSC and CL explore the conversations about CS 124, the notoriously difficult required course for CS concentrators, and the questions it raises about theory-based vs. application-based classes. RAD writes a retrospection on the circular desk in the Law School library, which belonged to Nathan Roscoe Pound, a former dean of the Law School who was criticized for his association with the Nazis during World War II. In her reporting and research, RAD lays out questions about what it means to still have this piece of furniture and to portray history accurately. On a lighter (pun intended) note, SSL and AJM do a deep dive into the blue light system to see how often they’re used, how much they cost, and how students actually feel about them. Red light or green light the blue lights? The jury’s still out. Finally, closing our issue, KJK writes an honest and heartfelt endpaper about the pressure she felt after coming to college to be the “perfect” older sister to her four younger siblings — only to realize that being open about her imperfect life is perhaps what makes her the best role model she can be. Kudos are in order! Thank you as always, XCZ, OWZ, JND, SET, and LJPE, for slaying with designs and helping with glossy distribution. You guys never let us down. Thank you LLL, BHP, JJG, and AYL for always answering my last-minute requests and questions and for always going out of your way to make sure we get our photos. Thank you MJH, CY, and EJS for speedy responses, speedy proofing, and speedy advice. Thank you YAK and JL for, once again, holding down the fort!! Special shoutout to IYG for incredibly dedicated and concise proofing despite the scrut dragging on way past what you agreed to — I’m sorry! We love you! And of course, thank you HD for dealing with hiccups and blips every week with much more composure and distress tolerance than I do. Y’all stay cooking. And eating. FMLove, KT + HD


Volume XXXV, Issue VIII

Dear FM, We finally did it — we won the lottery. And by we, I mean myself and my blockmates. After Cabot House announced it would be gutting its selection of prized n+1 suites next year, leaving many seniors to live out their final semesters sharing a double bedroom like first years, my blockmates and I were terrified. So we ruminated. We strategized. We pored over the rule book searching for plausible schemes. And in no way due to any of that labor, our suite was randomly assigned the second-highest lottery number today. But whether you’re rejoicing after getting a furnished apartment in the Prescotts or struggling to figure out how to divide your 82 sq. ft hallway double in Dunster, you can all take comfort in another stroke of luck: the arrival of another issue of FM. In this week’s scrutiny, OGP and JKW uncover Harvard’s connections to the destabilization of Latin American countries during the Cold War. Under the guise of academic freedom, professors shook hands with (and sometimes became) military and intelligence officials, covert operatives recruited students, and the CIA discreetly channeled funding into research projects. Ultimately, professors and institutions like Henry Kissinger and his Defense Studies Program engaged in covert planning that enabled the destabilization of a region and the loss of tens of thousands of lives. The legacy of these men and their actions reverberate to this day not only across the region but within the University as well. On a less somber note, YAK asks fifteen sharp questions and gets fifteen fascinating answers from HLS Professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed, covering everything from her take on the philosophy of originalism in constitutional law to her thoughts on the musical “Hamilton.” Speaking of biographical musicals, it wouldn’t surprise me to see one written eventually about the subject of KJK’s latest must-read profile. Dr. Michael Ferguson is a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Divinity School who studies the neuroscience of spirituality. Did I mention he’s a former Mormon, a practicing Catholic, and the first recipient of a gay marriage license in Utah? What a remarkable guy — and what a remarkable story. Lastly, sports writer TH joins FM for an endpaper about how YouTube shaped his childhood and the strangeness of recently seeing some of his favorite creators retire. As a former Minecraft YouTube fan myself (yes, I was very cool in fifth grade), this one brought all the nostalgia. Of course, it took a lot more than just luck to make this issue happen. Thanks to CJK for a multi-day madness of scrut proofing and OGP + JKW for “G overloaded.” Thanks to XCZ, JND, OWZ, for excellent graphics. Thanks to LLL and BHP for being way more on top of it than we are. Thanks to MJH, CY, and EJS for reigning us in while letting us flourish. Thanks to our social chairs for bringing us to the moon with fringe prom. Thanks to JL and YAK for $65 million worth of EAL expertise. As always, thanks to KT for perpetually pulling through for me. And to all those still awaiting their housing assignments for next year, thank you for sticking with FM during this stressful time — I wish you all single bedrooms, spacious common rooms, and a cozy nook to curl up and read our latest issue. FMLove, HD + KT


‘Ideological Authors’: Harvard’s Hidden Ties to Dirty Wars in Latin America

In the 1960s and 70s, U.S. Cold War involvement in Latin America and the violent regimes it supported were hardly discussed at Harvard. Yet these two worlds — political upheaval in Latin America and the rarefied academic spaces of the University — were far less separate than one might think.


‘The Line’: Questions of Comedy, Speech, and Accountability

While maybe not popularly identified with “freedom of speech” concerns, comedy clubs on Harvard’s campus are still beholden to concerns about what might be appropriate to say and what might cross the line.


Volume XXXV, Issue VII

Dear FM, Not to say the world is ending, but the world is ending. There was an earthquake in New York; there’ll be a solar eclipse on Monday; it was raining, hailing, and snowing (??!?!?!) these past few days here; and I am writing this closeout on (gasp) a Sunday while The Crimson’s admin site is down. Is the apocalypse upon us? I’ll let the evidence speak for itself. With trying times often comes ~comedy~, and that is the subject of this week’s scrut by AC and TNR. Witty and incisive, it is an exploration of how students on campus engage in comedy and navigate the broader social forces that impact what they deem appropriate to joke about. As they write, “The audience has their dispositions, but the buck is then passed to the comic: what should you do with the tastes of this audience? And then there’s the more interesting question. What do you do?” As you read their scrut, think about those questions. It’ll be extremely illuminating of the various social tensions underlying what it means to engage with and do comedy. Going along with the apocalyptic theme, XSC strikes a double-whammy with an inquiry and a retrospection. In the former, she questions the extent to which privacy has, in some ways, become at odds with friendship through the common use of Find My to track others’ locations. In the latter, she explores the history of the Social Museum Collection, which was criticized for its categorizing of human beings. Still, not everything is doom and gloom. In fact, some things are even on the come-up, like my.harvard, whose makeover EDDPT outlines through her conversations with some students working with HUIT to revamp the website. If you want even more wins, IYG offers us advice for writing a strong grant application by writing one herself — for very posh, definitely not exorbitantly-priced research on the Royal Family. And keeping up our streak of strong profiles, YAK talks to Eva Shang ’17 on dropping out, being a hedge fund CEO, and storytelling. SSL sits down with Jazz Jennings ’25 to learn about how she navigates life at Harvard after being a public figure for so long. From abroad, SJ talks to Adam V. Aleksic ’23 about etymology, being an influencer, and Internet slang. Finally, wrapping our issue to a close, DH reflects on her Kurdish-Syrian identity through an endpaper on her relationship with her mother’s language and culture. It is as honest as it is tender, a nuanced and genuine exploration of heritage and family history. And with that, happy apocalypse-era reading! FMLove, HD + KT


Harvard Princes, Russian Reformers: When Harvard Ran Moscow

In 1992, a group of Harvard-affiliated experts arrived in Moscow and attempted to transform the Russian economy into that of a Western capitalist country. Instead, the economic development project crumbled in scandal.


Volume XXXV, Issue VI

Dear FM, On Thursday in my Gen Ed, three other students and I went in front of the class “Shark Tank” style and gave five minute pitches for a hypothetical intervention to combat fake news, misinformation, or polarization. At the end of class, we all voted on which two proposals we would fund, and, by a wide margin, my presentation came dead last. Luckily, I have a different intervention in mind now — a completely free, non-hypothetical way to address the worrisome deficiency of top-tier campus magazine writing in your life — the latest issue of FM. Who needs Shark Tank: Gen Ed edition anyway? In this week’s scrutiny, CPRJ and MTB take questions about Harvard’s influence abroad back to a major flashpoint from decades past — and uncover the history behind it. In 1992, a group of experts affiliated with Harvard’s Institute for International Development arrived in Russia aiming to transform its economy into that of a Western capitalist country. Instead, they left in scandal, eventually leading Harvard (along with some of the experts) to pay a $31 million settlement to the U.S. government. As Harvard faces criticism today over its wide-ranging influence and lack of institutional neutrality, the story of HIID and its Russia project provides a fresh lens into the risks of Harvard’s global power. This was a massive reporting and research effort (and, to my knowledge, the first Crimson article written in at least four different countries) by first-time scrut writers, and I am so proud of them. To CPRJ and MTB, your perseverance and dedication fills me with hope about what this magazine is capable of. Elsewhere in the issue, SSL peppers computer science professor Elena Glassman with fifteen questions, covering everything from her takes on CS education to the time she walked on to the MIT men’s wrestling team. In a fitting twist for our first issue post-spring break, DRZ brings back a time-tested classic FM medium — the Venn Diagram — to compare the four shops in the Square that sell boba and a spring break trip to Cordoba. Back again for another conversation, SSL sits down with Hist & Lit concentrator and distance running star Maia Ramsden to talk about her thesis, fashion, and her impending transition from full time academics and part time athletics to full time athletics. Finally, comp director extraordinaire JKW delivers a stunning endpaper on her relationship with her grandmother and how to grieve in a way that measures up to the complexity of a person. I struggle to describe how beautiful, vivid, and life-giving this piece is — you really have to read it. Many thanks are in order. To AEP, thanks for a thorough and crucial scrut proofing job. To XCZ, JND, OWZ, and all the rest of design, thanks for seeing our vision even when we don’t have one. To LLL and BHP, thanks for grounding our words in the material world. To MJH, CY, and EJS, thanks for having our backs. To our FM execs (FMdashes? FMdashes.), thanks for great banter and sharp sentences — y’all are superstars. To JL (and YAK in absentia), thanks for excellent EALing and hanging in there. Finally, a special thanks goes to CY, for bringing the soap and the wand into the FMoffice, and to KT for joining me as we unleashed our inner kindergarteners and blew some bubbles. FMLove, HD + KT


Cambridge Artists Coop photo

The Cambridge Artists' Cooperative has faced a rising rent on their two-year lease, which forced them to negotiate their three-floor space down to one floor. Since paring down their space, they’ve had to limit how many artists they display.


Gallery 263 photo

David Craft, a former assistant professor at Massachusetts General Hospital, founded Gallery 263, a non-profit arts space that hosts weekly yoga, critique workshops, music nights, and exhibit openings that routinely spill out into the street.


Community Arts Center photo

A hold in the Port neighborhood since the 1930s, the Community Arts Center — part-childcare, part-community space, and part-arts school — began out of the basement of Newtonne Court, one of the oldest public housing developments in the country. The center provides a vision of the arts as a public service, done from the bottom-up.


Foundry photo

At the Foundry, you can reserve studio space, host an arts event in a maker studio, sell your wares at a night market, or apply to display in The Point, their conference room and gallery.


From Bob Dylan to This? Surviving a Shrinking Cambridge Arts Scene

Artists imbue the Square with the culture and charm that give the city its character — and its market price. But what would a sustainable arts culture look like in Cambridge, and who is willing to pay for it?


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