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Sky Falls As Tom Midterm Approaches

The RC year is spiraling into a state of fear and nerves as the dreaded TOM mid-term approaches. However, this season has seen the hysteria arrive on campus sooner than anticipated, and at greater heights than before. Many first years have been seen wandering about Spangler Dining Hall, lost in a state of deranged madness and muttering “it’s cycle-time for dinner. It’s cycle-time for dinner” over and over again. Some have even been spotted running from tree to tree on campus, in what appears to be an attempt to re-create the Extend c simulation exercise in human form.

One RC has been so shell-shocked by the experience that she is considering the worst. “After realizing that I cannot understand the precise logistics of jam making, I am considering applying to a management consulting firm.” Others have taken a more philosophical approach: “After much deliberation and soul-searching, I don’t think I am cut out to be a process engineer. It’s disappointing I know, but what can you do? When the Doré-Doré production line leaves you mystified, you just know you have to cut your losses.”

Perhaps more worrying is that the TOM mid-term appears to be the latest in a long list of psychological weapons that current faculty have employed to demoralize students over the course of the term, with others ranging from the National Cranberry Case Study (abridged) to the infamous Shad. Although some in the administration suspect this is the latest in a long line of political power-plays by a TOM faculty keen to prove it’s relevance in a world increasingly dominated by leverage and merger-arbitrage, others are not so certain: “they do it because they like it. why else would process control exist?”

Whilst the mid-term is often described as the “straw that broke the camel’s back”, possibly the most feared event in the department armory is the Shad Hall Exercise. Part electronics, part paint-by-numbers, many RCs have suffered mental breakdowns as a result of the repeated cramming of chips into circuit boards. Some have even been taking steroids in order to wire-strip more efficiently.

Recent evidence suggests that the faculty have been honing their art for many years, but simply because they enjoy it. A member of the student body recently went undercover as a chef in the TOM faculty dining halls to find out more. He gave The Harbus this interview:

“As I was clearing away the caviar & champagne, I heard one member of the faculty remark: “this term is going to be fun. We will break them like a Benihana chopstick.” Then followed discussions about how cases should be best sequenced so as to invoke Pavlovian responses to the words “Job-Shop” and “Scharffenberger.” It was amazing to see how focused they were. It was pretty scary.

But I think the worst came during the main course. I was a little late serving it up, and as the dwarves were wheeling the cow into the great hall, one member sarcastically remarked to me “that’s just-in-time.” I was about to apologize but another cut me off, saying (in I think what was a witty reference to Francis Drake), “there’s time to finish this Kobe beef and beat the RCs down too.” Then they all fell about laughing in a very scary, maniacal way, for about 10 minutes.”

However, when questioned, the TOM faculty played down any accusation of psychological scaremongering. One member of the faculty was particularly brash: “come-on, this is Harvard Business School. You can take it. A proper education and a hard test is hardly a genuine catastrophe. It’s not like The Harvard Club has run out of Grey Goose vodka or anything like that. In fact, it’s not even as shocking as an edition of The Harbus without an article on the rugby team in it. When seen in that light, the surprise essay we’re giving the RCs on the final exam should be no problem at all!”

However, some suspect the TOM faculty are deliberately harsh due to more sinister motives. One professor from a rival faculty (who declined to be named), suggested that the TOM department is keen to maintain its position as one of the most revered and glamorous departments throughout Harvard’s graduate schools. “They work hard and play hard, and they simply want to stay at the top of the food chain. They have all the fun. They have batches, bottlenecks, and WIP. We have WACCs and APV. How can we compete?”

Whatever the motivations of the TOM faculty are, the Harbus is keen to point out to RCs that the TOM midterm is in fact, fairly unimportant in the wider scheme of things. And it all becomes LEAD afterwards anyway. The only downside is that the exam is this Monday. Enjoy.

October 22, 2007
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