The Student Body

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

When Toni Isaacs begins her investigation into student prostitutes, she hopes only to advance her career at the CRIMSON, the Harvard University paper. She places a classified ad in a local newspaper, one resembling those for escort services, hoping to find former clients of these prostitutes. Soon, a mysterious woman offers her the opportunity to go into business together. When Toni agrees to go on a business call with her as a mutual expression of faith, the other woman sets her up to be arrested, and because of her arrest, she is scheduled to appear before Harvard’s Administrative Board, which could expel her. Her search for the truth becomes her only sure way of staying in school.

Toni soon discovers the identity of the mysterious woman who set her up, but that woman appears not to be the head of the prostitution ring. Toni’s investigations lead her into further puzzles involving school administrators and Biotecnica, a local biotech company. With the aid of her friends and a conspiracy theorist at Biotecnica, she discovers how all these pieces fit together, but at each step she encounters new enemies and is forced to question her own motives. The mysteries are resolved in a disappointing anticlimax.

Jane Harvard is the pseudonym of four friends from Harvard’s class of 1986, two of whom have taught English and literature at the university level. They took the idea for their book from a prostitution scandal at Brown University in 1986. Straddling the line between parody and farce, they portray Harvard in exaggerated, sometimes nearly comical tones, with an oversexed, multicultural student population and faculty and staff interested in power, drugs, sex, prestige, and making a fortune in industry--everything, seemingly, except the pursuit and transmission of knowledge.