This Week’s Feature: Harvard University

September 25, 2015

University Feature:

Founded: 1636

Location: Cambridge, MA

Type: Private nonprofit university

Size: Medium

Undergraduate Students: ~6,700

Campus Setting: Campus located within a suburb of a major city

Defacing the John Harvard Statue

Sitting prominently in Harvard Yard is the statue of John Harvard, also called the “Statue of Three Lies.”  The easiest lie to notice is that the inscription reads that the College was founded in 1638, though the College was founded in 1636.  The second is that the founder of the College was Reverend Harvard Himself.  In fact, the Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony founded the College.  The last, and most surprising of the three lies, is that the man sitting in the chair is not John Harvard.  No one knows for certain whom it is, but the leading theory is that it was Sherman Hoar, a College 1884 and Law School 1886 graduate.  Many tourists rub his left shoe for good luck, which has caused it to take a golden color.  This is where the students come in.  It is a Harvard tradition for students– no, I’m not making this up- to urinate on that very left shoe.  So if you’re visiting Harvard, no matter what anyone tells you, don’t touch the statue!

Library of the Titanic

Harvard’s biggest library is Widener Library, named after Harry Elkins Widener, a 1907 graduate who perished in the sinking of the RMS Titanic during her maiden voyage.  His mother donated the money to build the library upon the conditions that 1) no brick be touched once the library had been completed, that 2) flowers be placed in memory of her son, and that 3) every student must complete a swimming test before graduating.  The third stipulation was eliminated when the Americans With Disabilities Act was passed in 1990, but the other two remain.  In adhering to the first condition, there have been several underground levels added to keep up with the growing number of books housed in the library.  As of now, there are approximately 3.5 million available to Harvard students.  

Primal Scream

To celebrate the commencement of finals every semester, Harvard students participate in “Primal Scream.”  Unlike at other schools, where the Scream may involve simply yelling out of your dorm room window, our Primal Scream involves running a lap around Harvard Yard- stark naked.  The tradition became popular in the 1990’s.  The Harvard Band plays before and during the Scream, which occurs on the last night of reading period each semester.  It takes a brave soul to participate, but many students take part each semester.

Don’t Walk Through Johnston Gate!

During Freshman Week, new students are given an ominous warning: Don’t walk through Johnston Gate, or else you’ll fail a class.  Of course, those who walked through the gate on move-in day are forgiven, but one will never see a student walk through the gate during their four years at the College.  The gate is often padlocked shut- to prevent students from subconsciously making the mistake- but on the rare occasion that it is, students are mindful not to pass under the gate’s arches.

Do you want to go to Harvard? Visit our database of current Harvard students, which includes all the applications files they used to get in. Get paid for uploading your applications files and essays.


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Harvard ‘20

Accepted to Harvard

Excited about the world.
Harvard ‘20

Accepted to Harvard, Yale, MIT, Columbia, UVA

Lover of physics, math, and chess. Football player and bass player. California born and raised.
Harvard ‘21

Accepted to Harvard, Yale, Brown, UPenn, Bowdoin, Amherst, Wesleyan, Georgetown, BC, Swarthmore

Hi! I'm a prospective Neuroscience and Religion double major. I love to sing, run, and help others.
Harvard ‘20

Accepted to Harvard, JHU, UPenn, UVA, Colorado, BU

I'm a redhead from Colorado and so excited to be attending Harvard this fall!

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