Jill Abramson has been inked out

John Harvard Statue

What’s he hiding under all those layers?

According to a new interview in Out Magazine, Harvard alum and New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson has 4 tattoos, including a “T” that stands for the prestigious Times newspaper and an “H” for Harvard — the “two institutions that I revere, that have shaped me.”

Quite why Abramson chose to reveal this is a mystery, but it does confirm that Times editors were at least once young and wild. Plus, Abramson shows some class, opting for the simple “H” over a full back portrait of the Harvard skyline.

“And now I feel like shooting myself for spending, like 10 minutes, talking about such a trivial thing.”

We reached out to current Crimson president Samuel Weinstock to ask about his upcoming alma-matter-associated tattoo plans. Perhaps unsurprisingly he declined to comment, saying that he “[didn't] really have anything to add.” Tattoos and Crimson presidents don’t seem like they mix at any rate. Ah, to be young and wild.

[Image via Wikimedia]

Harvard Quiz Bowler Denies Cheating, Probably Just Liked Pictures On Questions Website

Who would have thought there would have been a weekend when Harvard’s basketball team was more respected than their Quiz Bowl players? One won four National Academic Quiz Tournaments championships in three years, and the other just went on a “historic run” of a two game NCAA win streak. However, last week the NAQT announced that they were revoking Harvard’s four Quiz Bowl championships from 2009-2011, following the revelation that one of the Crimson players had illegally accessed future Quiz Bowl questions.

According to an interview in The Harvard Crimson with Andrew Watkins — Harvard Class of 2011 and the accused Quiz Bowl cheat — this is all a big misunderstanding. Watkins admits that yes, he accessed a webpage with Quiz Bowl questions, and yes, he did this many, many times. But, as The Crimson reports:

“He declined to elaborate on his motivations for accessing the page, and would not say why he opened it repeatedly before important games.”

But what Watkins did say is potentially more interesting than what he didn’t. According to the former Quiz Bowler, “A website containing question content was loaded. At no point did I read the questions therein.” So, he knowingly and repeatedly loaded a webpage with Quiz Bowl questions, but didn’t actually read anything on it. The NQBT president calls shenanigans on Watkins though, telling The Crimson, “It was clearly marked, and anyone who plays Quiz Bowl would know, “Oh, I’m going to play on those questions, I need to stop looking immediately.’”

In true Harvard fashion, suspicions were first raised about Watkins because he was much better than any other player. Watkins, now a chemistry grad student at NYU, did “astoundingly well against some of the greatest science players of all time, beating them in their specialty categories over and over again,” according to a former rival. However, the NQBT president says they didn’t launch an investigation earlier because while Watkins was good, “he wasn’t so good that he was really standing out from everybody else.” Harvard motivation in a nutshell.

Harvard Hacked Its Resident Deans, But Apologized

Over the weekend it was revealed that Harvard University had secretly accessed the email accounts of 16 Resident Deans in connection with a leaked confidential message regarding the university’s recent cheating scandal. Across a number of websites, Harvard faculty members and alumni called the search “creepy,” “dishonorable,” and “one of the lowest points in Harvard’s recent history — maybe Harvard’s history, period.”

This morning, Harvard’s Deans office released a statement about the email search, describing it as limited to a search of the subject line of the email that had been inappropriately forwarded.” The statement also revealed that the covert operation had the approval of Harvard’s Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and General Counsel, and the support of the Dean of Harvard College.

One of the key issues in question here is not only whether Harvard had the right to access the Deans’ emails, but if they also had an obligation to inform them of the search. From Harvard’s statement:

“Some have asked why, at the conclusion of that review, the entire group of Resident Deans was not briefed on the review that was conducted, and the outcome. The question is a fair one. Operating without any clear precedent for the conflicting privacy concerns and knowing that no human had looked at any emails during or after the investigation, we made a decision that protected the privacy of the Resident Dean who had made an inadvertent error and allowed the student cases being handled by this Resident Dean to move forward expeditiously.”

According to a Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences electronic policy document, “The faculty member is entitled to prior written notice that his or her records will be reviewed, unless circumstances make prior notification impossible, in which case the faculty member will be notified at the earliest possible opportunity.” While The Crimson notes that Resident Deans are not technically faculty, they do have some faculty privileges, so this would seem like “clear precedent.” However, the statement does offer an apology to the Deans (real story: Harvard apologizes!), so that’s something.

Also, for what it’s worth, the search worked. Harvard’s statement acknowledges that the university found the person they were looking for by searching the email subject lines and collecting “metadata” — the name of the sender and the time the emails were sent. While it may make for an uncomfortable precedent in the view of some faculty, it was also effective.

Click through for the full (long) statement from the Harvard Dean’s office: Read the rest of this entry »

More Than Half Of Students Charged In Harvard Cheating Case Forced To Withdraw

More than half of the Harvard students involved in last year’s cheating scandal have been forced to withdraw from the university, according to an email sent out today to the Harvard community. The investigation into members of Government 1310: Introduction to Congress was first announced in August, after similarities were found in 125 take-home open-book final exams.

The Crimson reports that of the students initially charged by the university more than half were required to withdraw, while about half of those who are allowed to stay on campus received disciplinary probation. No actions were taken against the other students.

As Bloomberg points out, Harvard stated in August that students forced to withdraw as a result of cheating could be off campus for up to two semesters.

Power Struggle at The Harvard Crimson Forces Out Editor-in-Chief Drew Faust

While their classmates are being investigated for plagiarism, The Harvard Crimson has apparently decided that now would be a good time to stop letting administrators make up quotes for themselves. The Crimson announced today that after years of allowing Harvard leadership to review and tweak any quotes from an interview, the newspaper will now enforce several previously dormant policies to make sure what happens on the record, stays on the record.

Courtesy of Romenesko, here’s a nice big block quote from Crimson President Ben Samuels’ email to the newspaper’s staff, outlining just how widespread this practice has become:

“Some of Harvard’s highest officials—including the president of the University, the provost, and the deans of the College and of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences—have agreed to interviews with The Crimson only on the condition that their quotes not be printed without their approval … Even University spokespeople—employed to talk to the media—have routinely refused to have their names used in The Crimson, and Crimson reporters have agreed.”

This wasn’t just a case of a couple of words being moved around to make some Harvard big shot sound smarter either. According to The Crimson,Sometimes the quotations are rejected outright or are rewritten to mean just the opposite of what the administrator said.”

Or, this, but imagine Larry Summers instead of Jack Nicholson (because really, who knows how long this has been going on for):

A Public Service Announcement For All Harvard Students

It should really go with out saying, but when someone from Harvard coyly tells you they “go to school in Boston,” rather than just saying that school’s name, they deserve all sorts of awful things. All sorts. Since the conversation never actually stops there, it ultimately amounts to a multi-step humblebrag of the highest/lowest order, and we hate you already, Harvard reader, for even thinking about it.

It’s probably true that Ivy Leaguers of all stripes feel, to varying degrees, self-conscious about broadcasting their collegiate pedigree. Even so, we get the impression that actively concealing it is, by and large, an invention of Harvard. Let’s pick a few names out of a hat and test that hypothesis:

  • Yale: “What’s this ‘humility’ you speak of?”
  • Princeton: It doesn’t really conceal anything to say “I go to school in Princeton, NJ.”
  • Penn: Faces the opposite problem entirely — people following up with questions about Joe Paterno.
  • Cornell: LOL

Just in case this distinctly Harvardian conversational strategy required any more rumination, the Crimson’s Wyatt Troia ably explains why the “tactless Harvard custom needs to stop” :

If you are speaking to anyone but the most disinterested conversation partner, you will be questioned further until the truth finally comes out: “I go to Harvard.” This is when it gets really awkward. Now your acquaintance knows you were trying to conceal that you go to Harvard, and will assume this is because you didn’t want to hurt his or her simple feelings about being so much stupider than you. You’ve succeeded, by trying to avoid looking arrogant and condescending, in exhibiting both qualities.

Read the rest of this entry »

Harvard Students, Meet World

Graduation is just around the corner, which can only mean one thing: a massive upsurge in Ivy League freakouts, mostly due to the stunning realization that Ivy League students have zero common sense and no life skills beyond constructing bongs out of toilet paper rolls and laundry filters. Thank God we have someone like Crimson columnist Brian J. Bolduc to deliver us from our own abundance of thumbs and left feet.

Bolduc, a member of Harvard’s Class of 2010, temporarily emerged from his über-gritty, über-real life in New York yesterday to write an article called “The Harvardian’s Guide to the Real World.” We love it when Harvard students pretend to understand the real world, and we especially love it when they try to give each other advice about how to live in it. So naturally we thought Bolduc’s article was worth a quick reality fact-check. Shall we?

First—unlike in class—at work, requirements are mandatory.

WHAT? You must be joking. When will there be time for the rowing machine and the twice-a-day trips to Whole Foods?

Second, work has unavoidable unpleasantries—namely, your coworkers. At one point, you may find yourself sitting across from a guy who went to Yale.

(2a) Do  not use the word “unpleasantries” at the water cooler unless you are working for Roget’s Thesaurus or BlackRock. Otherwise people will think you’re a tool. (2b) Do not gape and point when you see your Yale coworkers, because chances are you’ve been recruited by the same financey folks that hire Ivy League students every year in bushels. (Otherwise, how could you possibly be living in New York, like our fine friend Mr. Bolduc? Keep in mind that none of Bolduc’s proferred recommendations apply if you’re shacking with your parents.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Harvard students pass out sex toys like candy

Recently, the Harvard Crimson featured an article about a sex toy workshop hosted by Girlspot and co-sponsored by Queer Students and Allies and the Radcliffe Union of Students.

The gem of the piece – the video below. Apparently, hoards of people attended to get the free “things.” (Nerds, I’m soooo having an uncomfortable and awkward Liz Lemon moment right now.)  But hey, the things are expensive, so that completely merits the whole thing. 

Also, for all of those animal lovers, they have……. VEGAN options. 

Ooops… I missed that again: What’s wrong with “Egpytians?”

Although I am the first to admit that typos and misspellings are one of my biggest flaws, it is almost inevitable when my morning consists of rolling out of bed and trying to write-up RagTime as I simultaneously brush my teeth so that I can get to my 9 am class in time. (This calculation also has to take into account the time it takes to navigate the Pacman layout that is Columbia’s campus which now has the extra obstacle of essentially being a ice rink in front of Butler. Seriously, kids were sliding like penguins to class yesterday.)

However, one would think that the Harvard Crimson full production staff would have caught this one, or at least spellchecker.(They do have a full copy edit team and a series of editors unlike some of the less-sophisticated productions… a.k.a IvyGate.) Nevertheless, rather it was their coffee failing them or just icepocalypse-driven madness this is the front page of their January 31st paper courtesy of the Juli O’ Clock tumblr/blog:  

However, there is always the chance that a third-party has edited this picture. Although, who would be THAT low?  Unlike Spec, the Crimson does not have the snazzy Issuu feature where you can read the paper online and pretend that your holding an actual print copy, so the original evidence is not readily available. Unless, someone would like to run from Cambridge to NYC and yell the paper is coming so we could have a physical copy. (I thought not.) 

If you check the online version, the word is spelled correctly.

Now if they had anonymous commenters who would nit-pick every last thing they did wrong, who knows what else would make them explain “Ooops… I missed that again.” (It’s ok, it took me five epic fails to learn how to spell “Zuckerberg” correctly.)  Maybe, it’s a good thing they don’t - I can’t have Britney Spears songs stuck in my head any longer.

JFK Was Kind of a Dunce on His Harvard Application

Sometimes you’ll be sitting in class with the daughter of a famous politician, and she’ll open her mouth to say something about geopolitics, and what will come out instead is her theory that there must be oil reserves at the Jersey Shore because everyone there is so tan. At those times you may innocently wonder, Jesus Christ on a fucking unicycle, how do these people get into Ivy League schools? Do they even fill out applications? And you’d be right to ask such a thing, because judging from a recent article in the New York Times, American royalty doesn’t need to apply to schools anymore to get accepted to them.

But lo, this was not always so! The Crimson’s FlyByBlog reports that the college application of John F. Kennedy, a Harvard graduate in 1940, has been posted online for the world to peruse. Granted, the Kennedys weren’t quite the social crème-de-la-crème that he eventually made them, but they were still the sort of people who’d be allowed to touch the Gutenberg if they asked. Behold: genuine proof that in 1935, even big fish had to submit college applications!

But they could still have bottom-feeder grades, apparently. His average was a 68, with particularly poor grades in French and Latin. His school principal certainly wasn’t oozing with praise in his letter to Harvard:

Jack has rather superior mental ability without the deep interest in his studies or the mature viewpoint that demands of him his best effort all the time. He can be relied upon to do enough to pass.

That might have been tender enough in 1935, but today it sounds like a libel suit waiting to happen. Kennedy didn’t do much to make a case for himself, either:

The reasons that I have for wishing to go to Harvard are several. I felt that Harvard can give me a better background and a better liberal education than any other university. I have always wanted to go there, as I have felt that it is not just another college but is a university with something definite to offer. Then too, I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a “Harvard man” is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain.

Harvard is full of definite somethings, that’s for sure. But Kennedy’s application really skimps on smarmy, sycophantic adjective-dropping, a sure sign that he has no idea what he’s talking about. This shit would never pass muster on the Common App. Not to mention the fact that he sounds more eager to own an embossed Harvard money clip than he does to have a Harvard education–although that’s pretty much true for all Harvard students, so pass.

Imagine if that turned up in a college admissions box this year, when the number of Harvard applicants rose to a whopping 35,000. Guess it’s a good thing the Kennedys just have to make phone calls today.