Monday noon and evening the members of the Dining Association will be asked to vote on a plan recommended by the board of Directors for accommodating those who board at Memorial Hall during the coming year. The vote will be taken through two meals, as it is important that a large number of ballots be cast. It is evident that the system at present in operation cannot in future be satisfactorily continued; but what change shall be made is not easily to be decided. The question is the most important which has ever confronted the association, and it is the opinion of the directors that no decisive action should be taken without first ascertaining the sentiment of the entire association. That this sentiment should be based on a careful judgement, it is thought best to present briefly the considerations which have led to the recommendation of the plan proposed.
At the last meeting of the board of directors, the following motion was passed:
Resolved, That this board recommend the following plan for seating the dining hall during the ensuing year: That the present general tables be retained as such with a maximum permanent attendance of 456 men at 228 seats; that the present club tables be retained as such with a maximum permanent attendance of 15 men at tables of 12 seats, 18 men at tables of 14 seats, and 7 men at tables of 6 seats; that this plan be submitted to a vote of the members of the association, and if such plan be approved by the association it be submitted to the corporation.
Opposed to this plan is one which more quickly finds favor with general table men, of having a club system throughout the hall with 50 per cent. more men than there are seats. Any plan which provides for the accommodation of less men is practically put out of the question by the decided opposition of the Corporation to such a limitation to the effectiveness of Memorial Hall. There remain then, these two possible plans. Why have the directors decided in favor of the first?
The argument in favor of the all-club system is that under it all members of the association are on a footing of absolute equality. That such should be the case is the clear dictate of simple justice. In a new hall this would doubtless be true; but it does not on that account hold good in Memorial, where the present system has been developed as it has.
The general tables have existed but a few years, starting as an encroachment on the original club tables. That they should now, though in a modified form, be extended over the entire hall, does not seem to be demanded by justice other than in the abstract. So radical a change involves the destruction of the present club life without any compensating gain to the general tables. It does not seem justified by the necessities of the situation.
Some change, however, is necessary to relieve the pressure at the general tables. By the directors' plan the number of men to a seat is reduced from 2 1-2 at present to 2. This will go far toward checking the crowdedness which is now justly complained of. Further, the chances of advance to a club table are increased. At the start 145 men are added to the club tables. Taking into account the number of men who leave the hall annually, there would be room at the club tables another year for more than half of those now at the other end of the hall. The number of seats to be filled would be larger by 144, the number of men wanting seats would be less by 114. Obviously the proportion of those who left the general tables for the club tables would change materially for the better.
The plan proposed by the directors is thought to combine a fair measure of consideration for the club tables and their social life with the justice which is due to the general tables. It is not intended to be permanent, but is adopted as a choice between two evils which, it is hoped, are only temporary. The step taken is in the direction of that highly desirable equality which shall prove consistent with social life and satisfactory accommodations. The change to this condition, while it can be readily made from the plan of the directors, would be, if not impossible, at least very difficult, where it involved an abrupt reduction in the membership of the association.