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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Harvard and class

An excellent column today from Mike GW on the unspoken divisions of class that exist at Harvard. He covers a lot of ground, but in honor of this week being the first week Final Club punch season, I wanted to focus on one part in particular:
"I've always had the feeling that there's only so much of Harvard I can even get to know,"” Francisco Perez '’06 tells me. "People make so many assumptions [that] you have money, it's amazing. If you don'’t have it, then you'’re not going to be able to participate."

There is an unspoken code to all of this, first formed in the prep academies and magnet schools where so many were conditioned to this kind of privileged life, then refined and reinforced by the divisive institutions of our Harvard lives- —from official policies and regulations to the student snobbery of final clubs and DormAid.(more in expanded post)
It seems our social life charges admission, literally. And so, still, does academic life, even for those on full financial aid: The lowest income students are required to work constantly to meet Harvard'’s $3,500 "“self-help"” expectation or face down insurmountable debt after they graduate. Not a pretty picture.
I want to write more on what's wrong with Final Clubs when I have some time this week (tonight, tomorrow maybe), but in the meantime, does anyone have any thoughts?

2 Comments:

At 1:29 AM, Blogger Jersey Slugger said...

This and many other such topics highlight something that came up in my Gov 1067 class on Liberalism. I believe it was the discrepency between what's reasonable and what's rational that was given by the famed Harvard political theorist John Rawls. Basically, he described what is rational as being what is in an individual's self-interest while what is reasonable is what is in society as a whole's best interest. In the case of Harvard, what is reasonable is eliminating the self-help requirement of the financial aid package for those who have it and expand admission to better represent U.S. (or even global...that would be interesting) society on a class level. Nevertheless, none of this is rational from Harvard's perspective. What are we to expect from this prestigious leader factory? Morality or practicality? Justice or bias? Equal opportunity or feeder school domination? What do YOU think?

 
At 12:17 AM, Anonymous Yi-Ping said...

It's hard to begin a discussion on Final Clubs without some facts. Someone should find out how much dues at all the clubs are, what a typical yearly budget is, how much the property is valued at, what the cost of punch events are, etc. Maybe people disagree on the ideology governing membership in elite private institutions, whether it's Harvard or the Fly or some a capella group...and there are definitely some interesting private/public issues at stake re: Final Clubs, not to mention interesting questions of responsibility. But I think a good place to start would be with the price tag. How much does snobbiness cost?

 

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