Deep in the crimson

I find it interesting that half the country seems to be under the impression that Harvard, like all the other famous universities in the country, is run by a bunch of communists, since it’s definitely the most capitalistic organization I’ve ever been a part of. And since they had an endowment of something like $33 billion when I entered, I naturally assumed that they were good at making money. But in the last year they’ve lost around $10 billion, and in response started making cutbacks.

They’ve always made a specialty of moves like collecting bills at the beginning of the month but not issuing salaries until the end. But now they’re adopting even more popular measures like cutting free coffee in the break rooms and lowering the thermostats in buildings four degrees during the winter. Within days of their first announcement of losses after the investment banks started collapsing last year I noticed that the motion-sensing lights in the graduate dorm laundry rooms were changed to turn off within 10 seconds without motion. The light would turn off during the time that it took for me to load my clothes into the machine. And then I’d have to walk to the other end of the room, stand under the sensor and wave my arms for a good five seconds before they would turn back on. Never have I found it so hard to convince man or machine that I exist.

Now I think I’m starting to see how they lost all that money. They have no idea where it came from or went to. They lose $10 billion through bad real estate investment and over-exposure in the stock market and they’re looking for it in the coffee carafes. Don’t be deceived by the physical resemblance of the faces on the money that you give to coked-up investment bankers and the money you give to the energy company. They’re really not related. Harvard is like an old woman who leaves her purse in a restaurant and, when she notices, starts poking the first teenager she sees with her umbrella, convinced he stole it.

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