If you’re passing through Cambridge anytime soon, good luck finding Harvard. The Harvard that you might remember from your college-application days has disappeared. In its place stands Harvard State University, where the weekends start on Wednesdays and the term “party school” is so tame it’s hardly applicable. At least that’s what the colorful posters advertising HarvardParties.com would lead you to believe.
Three ambitious Harvard students have made it their mission to give their school’s social scene a long-overdue boost. Harvard seniors Zachary Corker and Paul Hersh and junior Darren Morris, teamed up this year to create HarvardParties.com, hoping to introduce an air of social excitement to a school known for — well, other things.
It is, perhaps, fitting that Corker, Hersh and Morris would create HavardParties.com. Hersh is currently writing a senior thesis on Santa Claus, Corker poses for publicity shots in a large black afro wig, and Morris keeps the other two in line with frequent logistical reminders.
Corker says that the website is especially helpful to underclassmen who are new to the social scene. It went on-line in September, just in time for freshmen such as Jonathan Brewer to explore.
“I think it’s pretty admirable,” Brewer said of the site.
Most Harvard students live on-campus in residential houses, which makes their social situation far different from Cornell’s. While Cornell freshmen are moving in herds from fraternity to fraternity and seniors are kicking back at the Chapter House, the Harvard crowd deals with a different reality. They attend events thrown by the houses and drop in on registered room parties. Off-campus parties can be found at finals clubs, social organizations which usually admit only those on the guest list. For everything else, there’s Boston nightlife.
Harvard freshmen were pleasantly surprised by Harvard’s social scene. Obviously having expected something different, Brewer said “I was actually kind of impressed [by the parties].” Another freshman, Shanai Watson added, “There are a lot of parties here.”
HarvardParties.com may have had something to do with it. In a few clicks, students can scope out a weekend’s worth of parties, including those thrown by residence halls, Boston-area clubs, student organizations and other local colleges.
Upcoming parties include a Harvard-Yale Fusion party, an Intercollegiate Hellenic Dance and a Screw-your-roommate semi-formal. Last week, the trio hosted a HarvardParties party at a local club. That party drew a crowd of over 400 students.
“One of the good sides of it is that it really allows you to find out about the parties both from Harvard and the surrounding area,” said Glen Poppe, a sophomore. However, he adds, “I don’t understand why they don’t close the site only to people on Harvard’s system.”
The site’s photo gallery lets partiers relive — or in some cases, comprehend for the first time — the night’s events by clicking through pictures of themselves and friends smiling for the camera. HarvardParties has a handful of “interns” that visit the various parties and take the pictures. High-quality photos can be purchased for a price of $2 to $5. However, the website is driven more by enthusiasm than profit. “We only make about an $.80 profit on each picture,” said Corker, adding that the site was mostly for fun.
While some students like the photo gallery, others are wary. “By advertising your party [on the site], you allow a HarvardParties photographer to be there, and some people aren’t crazy about having someone taking pictures of them and then posting them on the web,” Poppe said.
HarvardParties also features a section called “Ooooh, last night, who was (s)he