To the Class of 2026,
Congratulations! We are so happy to welcome you.
As you process the feeling of joy, excitement, or even momentary disbelief that comes with acceptance into Harvard, know that you and your loved ones have much to be proud of. We’re very proud of you, too.
When you arrive in late August, you will likely find yourselves in a largely maskless community that resembles that of many campuses prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet more than half of those who will be here to meet you had far more unorthodox Harvard beginning, with a disorienting cavalcade of Zoom rooms, awkward mask-induced misidentifications, and anxious post-arrival Covid-19 tests. Your introduction to this community in late summer will be remarkable in all the ways that joining our community is always remarkable, but it will also be remarkable in that it will be beautifully ordinary. A return to convention, at long last.
We hope you will appreciate and enjoy this normalcy.
In some sense, you will have the first fresh start at Harvard in a very, very long time. This school is, well, old. Through a vast matrix of norms, traditions, and Crimson idiosyncrasies, that age touches us, influencing how we understand and engage with the institution around us. But when Covid-19 scattered us away from Harvard physically it also took away some of our precious cultural traditions and institutional memory that never quite made it back.
You — every single one of the newly minted Harvard affiliates — now have the rare opportunity to fill in those gaps. To create new traditions and institutional memories that will define your time here and that of generations to come; to choose which clubs, celebrations, and campus programs are worthy of your attention and energy. As you do so, we urge you to be better than we have been, just like we have strived to be better than those before us. You have a shot a reshaping this community to more closely reflects the core values of equality, educational excellence, and intellectual curiosity that we have yet to fully uphold and realize.
Special as it is, this school has its fair share of injustices and problems just like everywhere else. The institution you enter will be far from perfect — you will likely experience moments of frustration and, in all likeliness, burst out in tears at some point during your time here. You will be tested by incomprehensible administrative oversights, problematic lecturers, and overzealous, exhausting colleagues. The real Harvard isn’t always quite as glossy as the Elle Woods overview.
But do not let that intimidate you: This campus will be as yours as it is anybody’s. Yours to reside and change, yours to turn to in moments of triumph and pain. The world is yours.
And we will be right here with you. We will be here to welcome you into our communities, including this very Editorial Board. We will be here to share with you our traditions and our worries — Housing Day, courses, long walks to the Quad, the latest Harvard University Dining Services creation — and watch them become yours too. We can’t wait for your arrival in August to breathe new life into a historical campus and for you, the reader, to leave your own little mark. Above all, we hope you can find a home here that you love.
Welcome, Class of 2026. We can’t wait to meet you.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.
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Read more in OpinionNowruz: The Day Filled with Joy and Hope at Harvard