Manuel A. Yepes
Through this column, I wanted to peel back that tour-esque veneer and reveal the intangible culture of each postgraduate school at Harvard. Yet when I sat down to write each piece, I couldn’t help but feel lost. Somehow, my quotes, pictures, and notes had the audacity to remain meaningless and unconnected, instead of autonomously organizing themselves into some easily digestible narrative that I could then transpose onto my document.
If the College wants to fulfill its mission of providing an intellectually transformative experience beyond narrow professional learning, it cannot be afraid to completely reform its curriculum á la HMS. The “cornerstone” of the Harvard College curriculum (as the General Education program is officially presented) must truly encourage students to think critically and engage with the material.
In my conversations with HBS students, I got the sense that the school operates more as an effective party host than as a teacher. You might read that with disdain. Yet I came away thinking that HBS has crucial lessons to offer on how we might deal with the networking culture present at our own college.
Housing Day is a venerated tradition — and one that entails a really fun morning. That won’t be the case for two of us this year, as we’ll be in class, taking midterm exams at 10:30 a.m. At Harvard, with its near-constant slog, why must we sit for exams on one of the singularly most fun days of the year?
This is where I see the link between HLS and Divercity, the Colombian theme park. When I put out a fake fire, there wasn’t any real value in what I was doing. Similarly, it seems to me that the academic intensity of HLS, both through classes and organizations like the Harvard Law Review, has minimal value in and of itself. Instead, its value comes partly from the fact that corporate law firms have implicitly endorsed the rules of the game.
I am Hispanic, but before that, I am an individual, who, like many, has a story that cannot be generalized into one overarching identity. As Hispanic Heritage Month begins, I urge you to listen to the stories — in the Crimson’s pages and beyond — that define each of us. Reading them, you’ll see the differences that, paradoxically, are what make us all Hispanic.
This isn’t an optimistic op-ed about how if we all sober up, we can band together to solve the climate crisis. This isn’t even a deceivingly cynical op-ed meant to be proven wrong by do-gooders. This is, instead, a simple exposition of my personal opinion: that Harvard’s inability to recognize the gravity of the situation at hand only confirms Camus’ view of humanity’s disbelief in death.
Covid-19 shook us awake from that four year long trance that had many of us shuffling through Harvard, stepping where we were told to step. It changed the status quo, allowing us to ask questions of what we used to think was a fixed system. Traditions were lost, but new ones were made. Change is hard, and many times painful. But, many times, though, change is good.