One of the organizations I am a member of is the Crimson Key Society (CKS), which, according to our official website, “is the premier organization dedicated to serving the Harvard University community. Throughout the year, CKS leads daily campus tours and participates in TEACH, a community outreach program for Cambridge Middle Schools. We also run Freshman Orientation Week each fall, usher Commencement services in June as well as help plan and organize a host of campus-wide activities, including Arts First weekend and the visiting parents weekends.” I joined my freshman spring, after making it through our “comp.”
While many extracurricular clubs on campus are open for anyone to join, there are some organizations that have a “comp” process. Comp is a time period that can last anywhere from a week to months, depending on the club, where students essentially “try out” to be a member. Some organizations accept all students who complete the comp, while others are more evaluative and selective. Key’s comp consists of a written application, an in-person interview (where the candidate presents one stop of a campus tour), and the presentation of two full, hour-long tours to two different current members who evaluate you. However, each comp is usually unique to that organization. For example, my friend Ginny is comping The Crimson as an article contributor, where she has to write 14 articles within a few weeks, after which she’ll be evaluated on the quality of her pieces, making deadlines, etc.
This weekend, CKS had our Comp Social, where compers had the opportunity to talk to current members and meet the people who would be evaluating their tours. Kemie is actually a CKS board member. Her role is Tour Coordinator, so she’s one of the people who assigns all tours, as well as TEACH shifts. There are currently 82 candidates left for (I think) 32 spots! I got to meet a freshman and a sophomore that I will be evaluating within the next two weeks. They were both really nice and enthusiastic, and I can’t wait for their tours. It’s refreshing to hear someone else’s tour, because I’ve given mine using my own style for about two years now. I always end up learning something new on someone else’s tour because besides the bare historical facts and dates for the buildings, everybody puts their own spin on things. I love knowing Harvard’s history, and walking around campus each time I give a tour reminds me how lucky I am and how much I enjoy studying here. The anecdotes and history of the buildings are super interesting, so I definitely recommend that you head over to the Information Center at the Holyoke Center and sign up for a tour if you’re ever visiting campus! Well worth the hour–you won’t regret it!