PALATES AND PURSES
If scholarship at Harvard is not all that it should be, the reason is easy of discovery. By and large those who eat do not study hard, and those who would study hard apparently do not eat and thus lack the corpus sanum necessary to the mens sana. But nobody who recognizes that Memorial Hall now stands with outstretched clammy arms, singing siren songs to "foodless" Harvard, can think that there are not places enough to eat.
Waiving the question of whether Harvard is foodless as well as Godless, there yet remains the enigma of why Memorial Hall with good food (according to the "Visiting Committee of Ladies and the Dining Hall Committee") and the lowest rates in Cambridge should be degenerating so rapidly into "innocuous dissuetude." The Comptroller in his circular letter to undergraduates shows himself nonplussed at this state of affairs and requests suggestions and criticisms
Taking everything into consideration the most reasonable, though gloomiest, answer seems to be that Memorial Hall will never be able to compete successfully with the other restaurants of Cambridge. It's own self and human nature are both against it. In the first place it will never gain, except perhaps for brief periods, the patronage of members of clubs. Nor will it rob the Union of the latter's clientelle, for the Union has much of the atmosphere and congeniality of a club. The percentage of each class which falls into these two categories is, however, fairly small. If the remainder of the undergraduates who live at college ate at Memorial Hall, its walls would certainly undergo a violent stiain.
Why don't they? As has been said before, Memorial Hall has both itself and human nature working against it. With all its mediaeval atmosphere, and the tradition which clings about it like hoar frost, it is too frosty. The interior of Memorial is repellant, the position of Memorial, since the center of college life has shifted to Massachusetts Avenue and beyond, is unfortunate. Finally it is in human nature--or at least American nature--to be nomadic. Even to eat constantly at home becomes tedious and to eat at only one place in college soon grows unbearable. Naturally, therefore, students prefer not to pay for board by the year (with involved methods of signing off) when they know that they will not eat every meal at that one place for even two weeks at a stretch.
The food at Memorial Hall is probably fairly good, but certainly no better that, if as good as, that of other Cambridge restaurants. The sole advantage which Memorial can boast is a lower rate, and that is not enough. For there is scarcely any undergraduate at the University who is forced to financial circumstances to forego all other advantages for the sake of the lower rate. The one suggestion left to make is that the way to the undergraduate's heart lies rather through his palate than through his pocket-book: It would seem wise to try the experiment of raising the rates high enough to furnish excellent food--food that is better than that of the average Cambridge restaurant--at the same time liberalizing the conditions of signing up for board. All this will never succeed in bringing in hungry swarms to Memorial Hall, but there is no doubt that really good food would enlarge the patronage to an astonishing degree.