October 7, 2021

Volume XXXII, Issue XIII

Editor's Note

To our illustrious readers: It’s a week like no other. With the coming of October and a sparkling Cambridge fall, we welcome our incredible compers to the mix with this week’s issue. They blew us away with their first pieces, from the dutifully reported to the comic and bizarre. The articles this week seek to capture the world of Cambridge and Harvard as it is now and as it has been. From JLB and YK, an exploration of the Woodberry Poetry Room, a Lamont reading room with a rich history. KNF takes us through the surprising legacy of the ancient benches of Sever Hall; he also takes us on a walk through Cambridge, spotting and munching on a number of edible urban plants. DRZ and MMFW explore the bizarre story of Matthew Abdy, a sweeper and bedmaker at Harvard College memorialized in a poem in 1732. In the present day, JL writes of the incredible labor performed by student peer counselors across campus. AZW captures the peculiar status of those who took time off after a single semester of enrollment: ‘half freshman.’ IW and IYG report on a controversial choice to move the Harvard Beijing Academy to Taipei, and TCK and CY explore the development of a vaccination chip at the Wyss Institute. Beyond the gates of Harvard, but still within the realm of COVID-19, AMB and KSG report on a sensitive lawsuit regarding masking in Cambridge secondary schools. Even further beyond, to Boston, PSR and JKW write about the politics of the ‘Great Boston Cleanup’ event held last week. In this week’s endpaper, CMX tells the story of her far-reaching pen pals and the unique relationship that builds from writing and sending letters. Tenderly composed, the piece captures the feeling of distance and the efforts we make to bridge it. Finally, from SSL and ARM comes the story of the Harvard Extension School. A seeming anomaly to Harvard’s legacy of exclusion, the Extension School was built on and continues to be surrounded by a rhetoric of inclusion and accessibility; despite those egalitarian aims, many Harvard affiliates look down on it as Harvard’s “back door,” even as the quality of teaching and learning equal that of the College or GSAS. The scrutiny asks incisive questions: “What exactly does a ‘Harvard education’ consist of, and is it even possible to scale? And when the accessibility of an education is at odds with its associated prestige, just how far is Harvard willing to extend itself?” To begin to understand the answers, read on. We’ve got a jam-packed issue this week, one that captures the expanse and complexity of a campus once again full of students, and the stories that sit just below the surface, or far in the past. We know you’re busy — midterms, we’ve heard — but take some time to slow down, read this issue, and better situate yourself in the world around you. Love, OGO & MNW