The proposal to organize a commuters' club similar to the institution at Technology, brings to the fore one of the perennial questions which face the University, and one which has become more and more involved as the House Plan has developed: how to satisfy the commuter's desire for the intangible influence which Harvard exerts?
In 1932, when the House Plan entered its first year of complete operation, the subject occupied the time and efforts of the Student Council and its report resulted in the establishment of a lunch-room in Phillips Brooks House, which became increasingly important as the center of the commuter's social life. It was a temporary improvement, which has ceased to be satisfactory. The facilities of the lunch-room are admittedly inadequate, but the P.B.H., that notorious catch-all for all homeless organizations, has done its best to serve the commuter until there can be a more permanent arrangement.
The commuters have three legitimate complaints. The lunch-room facilities are inadequate; the conduct of Brooks House athletics which permits a crew composed of students living along Mount Auburn Street to represent the commuters, might well be improved; the commuters are not represented in the Student Council.
Conditions in the Student Council are particularly open to censure. The constitution of the body provides that two men from outside the Houses be elected, and that one of these must live outside of Cambridge. At present these regulations are flagrantly flouted. Last year the one member who supposedly filled the qualifications of a non-Cambridge resident was Carl A. Pescosolido '34, whose residence was listed as Newtonville, but who in reality was living in Cambridge. This year the member is Robert S. Playfair '36, who was elected when living at home but who now lives in Cambridge. Neither of these men are adequate representatives of the commuting body, nor is this solution anything but an evasion of constitutional provisions.
It was a philosophical question which bothered the Student Council in 1932. Could the commuters gain more by segregation into a group, or would it be advisable to sprinkle them throughout the University's social units, the Houses? The Student Council decided that it would be best to establish "associate" residents in the Houses, permitting commuters to enjoy the athletic, library and general social privileges of these units. The proposal met with opposition from House Masters and residents alike and nothing has been done.
Commuters have become righteously indignant at the condition in Brooks House, but they should not condemn the House. The only possible solution is the one which they themselves advocate,-the establishment, by commuters, for commuters and with the cooperation of the University, a commuters' club. Membership could be limited to men living outside of Cambridge or at least not in College buildings along Mount Auburn Street. The club should organize athletic teams to represent the commuters, and the commuters should be given a representative voice in the Student Council.
The time has come for the University to step in and settle the question once and for all, and the commuters have the answer. Segregation may be harmful, but until the Houses decide to admit commuters as "associate members," the present muddled state of affairs will continue to irk the non-resident students.