The fluctuations of the price of board can be seen from the table below, which gives the prices charged on the successive term bills from the establishment of the present association.
1874-5 Average for the year. $4.54
1875-6 $4.50 $4.80 $5.00
1876-7 4.80 4.50 4.15
1877-8 4.10 4.00 4.00
1878-9 4.00 4.00 4.20
1879-80 4.10 4.10 4.24
1880-1 4.40 4.40 4.60
1881-2 5.00 5.00 4.54
1882-3 4.46 4.58 4.40
1883-4 4.16 4.10 4.10
1884-5 4.00 3.90
The price of board is so to speak a function of two variables; the quality of board and the number of boarders. This latter determines the price much more effectually than the former, but it is itself regulated by the former. The great question, which the present steward has solved so successfully, is how to satisfy the great number of men who join the association every September, so that they will remain throughout the year. In order to accomplish this end a high standard of board must be firmly maintained. In doing this, however, care must be taken not to make the board so expensive that many will seek cheaper places, for a high price as well as poor quality will result in diminished numbers. Thus the steward is under two constant pressures; one forcing him to at least maintain the established standard, and the other to lower the price of board. The desired standard must be sufficiently high to satisfy the richer and more fastidious, and the price sufficiently low to meet the resources of those in poorer circumstances. Mr. Sullivan has succeeded, in a great measure, in establishing and maintaining this standard, and has thereby kept the Hall well filled.
There was a penny wise and pound foolish policy that was followed at Memorial in years past. It consisted in saving expense by lowering the standard, and thereby driving away boarders. This is diametrically opposed to the policy now in vogue. Good board and many boarders make lower prices, than less expensive board and few boarders.
The connection between the price of board and the number of members in the association can be seen from the following figures, compiled from the Auditor's monthly reports: