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Ivy League Dorm to Stop Skinning, Roasting Goat

Harvard is ending decades-old tradition over health concerns, student discomfort
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 17, 2019 11:33 AM CDT
FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2012, file photo, a tour group walks through the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Hundreds of U.S. universities made strong returns on their financial investments...   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
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(Newser) – A Harvard University residence hall is ending a decades-old tradition of skinning and barbecuing a goat in the courtyard, per the AP. The Harvard Crimson student newspaper reports that Dunster House Faculty Deans Cheryl Chen and Sean Kelly informed students of the decision in an email last week, citing student discomfort with the tradition and health concerns. "If you just grabbed a goat from someone's farm that was sick and carrying an illness that's transmissible to humans, some of those might be leptospirosis, cryptosporidium, Q fever," a Harvard public health official says. But some students embraced that discomfort, with one saying that it "was very productive because, if you are comfortable eating meat in the (dining hall), but you aren't comfortable with the goat roast—those are the same thing."

Chen and Kelly say Dunster will continue to hold a "goat roast," just without an actual goat.The annual event began in the 1980s as a spinoff of a primitive survival course taught by human and evolutionary biology professor Daniel Lieberman. After the goat is skinned, students and house staff marinated the carcass in lime, curry, salt, pepper, herbs, and garlic, and then roasted it the next day on a spit over a bed of coals. "It had an educational purpose, which is to teach students how our ancestors survived for millions of years," says Lieberman.

(Read more Ivy League stories.)

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