I have a fiduciary responsibility to my section. Therefore when my previous article recounting the continuing wild exploits of OJ hit an editorial roadblock and was denied publication in the Harbus, I felt it my duty to seek the views of my entire section. Had I been irresponsible and na‹ve in my writing ? Had I been shooting off on sensitive issues without contributing to community debate ? Had I committed sin by writing an article without a viewpoint, meaning, or even a coherent story ? And most importantly, directly addressing my personal integrity, had I ignored the sensitivities of others students and acted disparagingly towards the HBS community ?
My section answered with a resounding and emphatic “yes”. Not only was I guilty of all this, but I was also labeled a proxy for the cancer eating at the very heart of our beloved student newspaper. My section-mates felt I had abandoned them and pursued my own perverted agenda ignoring pressing everyday issues such as international politics, intramural sport, accounts receivables, pot-luck dinners, and of course Black History Month. The floodgates of repressed feelings had been opened.
What follows is a collection of the most controversial suggestions about what’s wrong with our paper, as collated during the recent emergency OJ roundtable meeting called to bring me to order. Reader discretion, especially by those not partial to strobe lights, is advised.
“What’s really wrong with the Harbus”, said Adam Diamond thumping his fist, “is that the font size is just too small.”
The section was overcome with a shivering silence. This was a bold statement, beyond the usual boundaries of a roundtable even for close knit section such as ours. No one could speak.
Michael Starkey broke the ice.
“This half is for you… and this bit is for me”, he said filling his glass with some lemonade.
Andrew Eisner was even more dramatic in his suggestion. “The intense value that the Harbus provides to our daily lives dictates that it change from being just another weekly, student-run paper to a daily format!”. Another jolt from the blue that once again silenced the section.
Kee Ng, our moderator, intervened. “May I remind the section that such overarching and radical statements serve no constructive purpose in this…”
“National!” shouted Jason Martinez, interrupting the proceedings. “The Harbus is a serious instrument that serves us well during these difficult times when the people of this great land must come together and unite against those who choose to take away our precious freedoms. It has the content and the courage to go National!”
There was total and utter pandemonium. The entire section erupted in confusion – how many times had we seen in strategy and in entrepreneurship the problems of sudden, accelerated growth ? How many times had a regional, carefully controlled expansion strategy worked better than a national, from zero-to-hero approach ? Yet this was what had been said.
“I have a solution” shouted Michelle Ma bringing the house to order and restoring peace and silence among the section. Ah, Michelle, the stalwart of stability, the sense of reason. And indeed, today when she was needed most, she did not let us down. We gathered around in expectation. “Harbus for Vice-President,” she whispered to the crowd. Thunderous applause, wild applause, rampant applause is all that we could hear.
Folklore tells of how Stalin often received long applauses after speeches partly because no one wanted to be seen by the secret police as being the first one to stop clapping and appear disloyal. But who would be the one to stop first today ?
Through some pervasive invisible force which only OJ can experience because of our close bonding with each other, all seventy five of us stopped clapping at precisely the same moment thwarting the expectations of the secret police who had in the past hour quietly mingled among us. They were closing in from all sides, but trying so hard look normal, just like they had done at the last concert of the Von Trapp family just before they flee to the Nunnery where the misguided Nazi adolescent boy makes a fool of himself.
“Wait!”, said Paul Simms. “Remember the old days ? Remember when articles were often peppered with four letter words like ‘idiot’ and ‘cake’ ? Remember when you could become the VP of North East Operations simply by clutching a wet copy of the Harbus in an elevator ?”
“What’s this ?” we thought scratching our heads. But no one could remember such a time. And slowly the truth came flooding back to us all. Matt Howard reflected on our collective section experience with the Harbus.
“Section J, I love you”, he said.
And at that moment in time, we loved too.