Attempting to have an HBCU Experience

By Courtesy of GIPHY

Last weekend, much of Black Harvard trekked down to D.C. for the Howard vs. Harvard football game. Some flew, some drove, but most rode the charter bus that the amazing Black Students Association put together. As someone who really struggled with choosing a PWI (Predominantly White Institution) over an HBCU (Historically Black College and University), this weekend had high expectations—this was my time to soak in what I missed out on but also experience a new place with most of my besties. So, let’s talk about it.

Friday, October 14

Friday morning, two buses were scheduled to leave at 6 a.m. However, the buses did not arrive until around 6:30 because BSA planned for CPT (iykyk). I think this is the only situation in which lying is permissible. We left around 6:45 for the scheduled 8 hour drive to DC. A lot of us slept halfway, only waking when we arrived at the two rest stops for food. *Sidenote: Remind me to later write about the absurd inflation of food on highway rest stops.* As true Harvard students, of course, a number of us did homework along the way. With long rest stops because 50 people ordered food, the snail’s pace of a big ass bus, and the Baltimore and D.C. traffic, the eight hour journey actually took about 12 hours. We made it to the hotel around 6 p.m., and I don't think I’ve ever been happier to walk into a room that was to be shared with four other people. Our lateness forced us to miss the concert we were supposed to attend on Howard’s campus that night, but this did not kill our spirits. So, I took off the sweats that felt incredibly disgusting after eating Popeyes on my lap, and got dressed *in the outfit I specifically planned for this weekend because they were not gonna catch me looking crazy at an HBCU (again, iykyk).*

We had about three hours to kill until the parties started, so I snuck off with Bae (yes, love can exist at this school) to explore D.C. a bit. We found a very yummy Thai restaurant within walking distance and then did what every other tourist does in D.C.: stared at the White House for 20 minutes. My fourth time standing there didn’t disappoint. Later, we headed to Howard for a house party. It had been pubbed as ladies get in free before 11 p.m., but when I got there, I had to pay $3 on Cashapp to get in (lol fine i guess). The party had extreme turnout and amazing music, but it was a bit too crowded for my liking. As in, I kept getting a mouthful of this one girl’s hair. So, we dipped to another. This one had a more low key vibe, but ended up being really fun. I danced, vibed, and then stumbled back to the hotel around 1 a.m. We had a big day ahead.

Saturday, October 15

I woke up to the smell of scented lotion and Dove soap. Everyone knows getting ready with your girls is more fun than the actual event. Makeup and fit advice, hair checks, dancing while shaving armpits: these are the moments I live for. After this joyed-chaos, we were finally dressed at 11 a.m. My roommate and I chugged a Mike’s Hard and then went down to fill up on the overpriced hotel breakfast. When we got to Howard for the tailgating, it hadn’t quite started (even though we arrived 30 minutes after the expected start time). So, my friends and I toured campus wearing our overpriced Harvard Shop merch. All of the Howard students we ran into were extremely welcoming: stopping us to talk, complimenting us as we walked by, giving us directions, etc. Suddenly, I started feeling a hint of guilt for the blank stares I often give Harvard tourists on my way to class.

When the tailgating eventually started, it was lit. It was different from normal awk Harvard tailgates (I guess we had to up our game). Catered food, lots of drinks, and lots of line dancing. We had a good time. When we eventually got to the game, a lot of us were too tired to fully tune in. The game itself was not my favorite pastime, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching Howard’s cheerleaders and band. The halftime show was *chef’s kiss* with a band that dances while playing instruments and majorettes tearing up the field. It was a great finale for me because I left after halftime (haha). A nap was needed. We, however, did win the game, so Go Crimson.

Later that night, the party began again. This one was hosted at a venue, and a lot of us had purchased our tickets before we even got to D.C. I cannot give you the words to describe how fun it was. Actual dancing, Greeks strolling, super crowded but able to move, bar in venue: There was nothing more I could’ve asked for. Though it was a Howard party (and believe me there was some jealousy that this is their every weekend), this moment is when I started to appreciate Harvard for giving me the people I came with — I’d choose you guys a million times over <3

The party ended around 1 a.m. and the attempt to attend another after will not be written about for the public record. Shoutout to the three people there with me; we got through it, y’all.

Sunday, October 16

The morning after. BSA planned a brunch for us at a Black owned restaurant to end the weekend (perfect ending right?). Yummy food and good music soothed the hangovers and a few of us got in some last-minute sightseeing before heading off. Along the way, we played a fun game of How-Many-of-These-Statued-Men-Owned-Slaves. It turned out to be a lot less than we thought. After a group pic in front of the White House, we headed back to the buses for our journey back to Cambridge. It again took 12 hours, and at 12 a.m., we were finally happy to see the filthy Charles. As we turned onto Mount Auburn Street, my bus played “I’m Coming Home” to truly appreciate this specific moment.

Overall, my weekend at Howard was an experience I’ll never forget. Though a lot of us wish we had some of the experiences that come with attending an HBCU, Harvard definitely has its benefits and I think we all appreciated the ability to do this together. It wouldn’t have been possible without the board of our Black Students Association. So thank you, BSA and Roll Crim <3

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