The Undergraduate Through the Years
This magazine's "Undergraduate" column provides snapshots of contemporary student life. Some columns capture a moment in time; others demonstrate how the more things change, the more they stay the same.
As Harvard celebrates its 375th anniversary, we bring you a selection of columns from the last 25 years.
In 1986, Claudia Polsky wrote about Harvard's involvement in South Africa in light of the divestment movement and other political considerations.
In 1991, in the final months of the Soviet Union's existence, Brian Hecht wrote about the first U.S.-Soviet joint ham radio operation, an exchange between students from Harvard and students from Russian universities.
That same year, Adam Goodheart (now a contributing editor at this magazine) tackled an always-relevant topic for undergraduates: underage drinking laws, and how changes in their enforcement affected College life.
In 1993, Joshua Shenk inquired into the forces at work behind the senior class gift campaign.
Later that year, Amanda Frost tackled the newsy topic of student and faculty attitudes toward ROTC. (The topic made headlines this year when President Faust signed an agreement to allow Naval ROTC to return to campus after Congress repealed the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
In 1995, Undergraduate columnist Thinh Nguyen found it necessary to define e-mail. Columnists continued to explore the effects of technology on student life, including Sewell Chan ("Hurting Hands," 1998, about his experiences with RSI), Jennifer 8. Lee ("The Networked Student," 1999), Geoffrey Fowler ("Why Not.com," 2000), Nathan Heller ("Newfangled Networking," 2004, about Facebook in its early days), and Emma Lind ("A Crutch or an Anchor?", 2007, on how technology changed relationships between college students and their parents).
Many columnists have explored issues of family. In 1996, Miriam Udel Lambert wrote about getting married while still an undergraduate; in 2001, Sara Houghteling wrote about having a sibling at Harvard; and in 2011, Madeleine Schwartz told of being in college while her mother was in law school. Kirstin Butler ’01 wrote movingly about coping with her mother's death; Rebecca O'Brien ’06 about her parents' divorce.
Student columnists have written about their experiences with extracurricular activities, unusual and otherwise: in 1990, Brian Hecht introduced readers to the Society of Nerds and Geeks (in the process asking whether all Harvard students automatically deserved membership); Kevin Murphy wrote of "The Tao of Crew" in 1997; Elizabeth Gudrais explained why she joined a sorority in a 2000 column; in 2006, Elizabeth S. Widdicombe gave readers front-row seats at the student-produced fashion show Eleganza and John La Rue wrote about working for dorm crew; and in 2009, Christian Flow took readers inside the world of Harvard's Quiz Bowl team.