Harvard has a traditional Fall Clean-Up, in which freshman student employees arrive early to make a few bucks tiding up Harvard’s residential houses in preparation for the arrival of the entire undergraduate student body.
Although cleaning dormitory rooms and bathrooms is work, Harvard tries to put an element of fun into it as well.
For more than sixty years, Dorm Crew has welcomed Harvard first-years to campus for our annual Fall Clean-Up (FCU). Created in 1951, Dorm Crew is a student employment and leadership program that is entirely managed and operated by Harvard undergraduates. Today, Dorm Crew offers employment opportunities, leadership development, advising resources, and pre-orientation programing to more than 800 students annually. Each year, 300 incoming first-years join FCU to have fun and work hard while cleaning and preparing the dorms for student move-in. Throughout the week, students will have the opportunity to explore and engage with Harvardâ€™s campus and community through various planned events. …
Year after year, students have found Fall Clean-Up to be a rewarding experience that offers a great community of friends and provides an unrivaled introduction to the diversity of the Harvard community, the aged beauty of Harvard’s student residences, and the vibrant life of Harvard Square. Under the guidance of our upperclassman captains, we aim to deliver a Fall Clean-Up experience that truly orients students to what life at Harvard is all about.
Some alumni report that they enjoyed the experience:
As I reflect back on my life, that first week or two of freshman year, with the bonding with my fellow freshman Dorm Crew members, was an extraordinary stress reliever as we found out about each other and that we were all scared to death that Harvard had made a mistake admitting each one of us! I will never forget those initial few weeks in Cambridge.” â€”Ray Peters ’69
â€œI loved FCU because I met some of my best friends at Harvard and found a community that has been really important to me throughout my time in college.â€
â€”Sarah E. Lagan â€˜19
But the Harvard Crimson staff stroked its collective chin, and decided there was a PROBLEM here.
Oh, migod! Who would have imagined? Not everyone at Harvard is rich, some people are there on scholarship and need to take jobs in order to earn money. Everyone is not the same. It just isn’t fair!
Bedford felt out of place, just as the sight of trash in Murdockâ€™s sink left him feeling neglected by the University. From the beginning, Bedford and Murdock felt that the University deemed them different from their peers.
It took Bedford some time to pinpoint exactly why he felt alienated. Amidst meeting other students and recovering from jetlag, he did not look around and think, â€œOh, weâ€™re all here because weâ€™re poor and we need money.â€ At the time, he says he â€œhad no conception of theâ€ â€” here, his voice lowers in emphasis â€” â€œdisparity that is present on this campus between rich and poor.â€ But shortly into his time at Harvard, he began to reconsider the way Fall Clean-Up functions: It distinguishes between the students who need to earn quick money for school supplies and those who do not.
Many of the students who end up participating in FCU would have liked to do other programs. â€œWhat turned me off about FUP at the time wasnâ€™t what it was, but what it wasnâ€™t. And it wasnâ€™t a program that paid me,â€ Ibrahim says. â€œFall Clean-Up gave me dollars, and I needed that.â€
During pre-orientation, some students can afford to do what they love. Others donâ€™t have that luxury.
I’ve noticed the exact same problem in life after college. If you want something, if you want a home with electricity, heat, and in-door plumbing, you actually have to get a job and work to pay for all of it.