The thorough-going adoption of a quadrangle system by Yale, announced only, fifteen months after the refusal to try the arrangement, which preceded the gift of Mr. Harkness to Harvard, is somewhat unexpected. Yale authorities felt two years ago that Yale was not ripe for any form of house plan; it might still be to their advantage if they were to proceed more slowly than the intended rehousing of the college by 1938-34 indicates, and to keep a close watch on the trend of affairs at Cambridge. Meanwhile, there may be reciprocal benefits from the method of trial and error that both Harvard and Yale are now bound to employ. Among those that can be immediately considered are the purposes for which the Yale endowment is to be used.
There has been no precise information as to the type of endowment that the Harkness gift will provide for Harvard houses. Yale will apply part of its funds to increasing the salaries of resident instructors, part to student aid that will cover the greater cost of living in the new quarters. It should be possible to use some of this stringless Wyeth bequest, not only to expand the Harvard faculty, but to make continuance with it more attractive to its present members, and particularly to those house residents who will be most closely in contact with students and whose high quality must be assured. Nothing could be more dismal than the sight of the far-flung Georgian halls of Harvard houses empty because men are not attracted to them by the caliber of their residents; and, whatever the idealistic views of the matter, nothing can guarantee, excellence in the staff of residents unless Harvard is willing to pay for excellent men.
The matter of student aid in facing the new cost of living must wait for attention at Harvard until the exact scale of expenses in houses as compared with the present is known. An effective solution might be the use of the money for a direct endowment of the houses that would eliminate the need of the secondary form of student aid.
So far as Harvard is concerned, the entrance of Yale in the house realm should be helpful. With two fields for experimentation, the chances for early adjustment of the errors sure to appear when the machinery is started, are much greater.