I am not sure I ever met Birk, though I certainly watched him play for four years. But I have some warm feelings for him, because I quoted him in a testy piece I wrote for the Crimson in 1999, after the newspaper had run a ridiculous story about how Harvard was assigning too much homework, and that was getting in the way of students' love lives. Sometimes I just couldn't let stuff like that pass without responding, because the next thing you knew it would be on the student government agenda--at some point, deans really have to tell students to act like grownups. Here is where I quoted Birk:
During college, students learn to take responsibility for their own actions, to make choices and to live with the consequences. Sometimes these choices require compromising conflicting goals and values. So it is in later life. How can it be helpful to students' development as adults and as citizens for the College to assume responsibility for seeing to it that students do not feel they need to study on Friday nights? To quote a young professional, featured in The Crimson the following day, on his progress in his career: "Sometimes you just have to dig inside and find the strength to get out of bed in the morning. Mentally it's demanding, and coming from Harvard I knew I could do it." Did Harvard do this fellow a disservice, by not empowering him to feel that he need not work nights? [Love and Romance at Harvard]Of course, I didn't say what profession this unnamed alumnus was pursuing!