As campus has recovered this week from the festivities of Harvard v. Yale, my friends on both sides of the match have been rehashing their impressions of the opposition. (Not in terms of the football - who really cares about that? Only the four bare-chested boys necessary to spell out YALE in blue body paint, it would appear.) No, the key things now are the respective social scenes.
From outside the Ivy League, I would guess that neither Harvard nor Yale has much of a reputation for socially-adept students. We're all the GPA freaks who study to the point of absurdity, right? But within our bubble, there's intense debate.
YALE: You are large, impersonal, and snobby! We are a tight community that isn't afraid to have our drunken fun by putting Slip'n'Slides out on the quad, or by greasing pigs to chase.
HARVARD: Your community is tight because you are all afraid of leaving campus and getting mugged in New Haven.
I have a friend here who has come away from Game-weekend talk depressed by Harvard's lack of good parties. He drinks with his roommates, and wishes he had gone to Yale (which sounds more fun).
I have another friend, who goes to Yale, who has come away from Game-weekend talk depressed by Yale's lack of a good non-drinking community. He wishes he had gone to Harvard (which sounds more fun).
I didn't even apply to Yale (technically making me ineligible for the favorite football game taunt: "Safe-ty Schooool! Safe-ty Schooool!"), so I can't really talk about it with authority. But the party conversations reminded me that Harvard really does have a great non-drinking sector. There's a group of freshmen who get up on Saturday mornings to make crepes in a dorm common room. There have been make-up parties, flash mobs, lecture hall movie screenings, and impromptu sing-alongs at basement pianos. My roommate is trying to organize a "Jesus-music dance party" . . . to each his own?
I doubt it's as simple as all that. Yale has a few non-drinkers just as surely as Harvard has a few steamy, alcohol-soaked soirees. But let's just say that, in this respect, I haven't got any buyer's remorse.