Wistful Vista II
It begins to look as if there will be no place in Cambridge for G.I. Joe College and his family next fall. Each week the number of unfilled housing applications at the office in Straus Hall jumps closer to the estimated 2500 that will confront University officials by September. The bottleneck has been predicted for many months; the Housing office has scoured a Cambridge already crowded to the saturation point; the Alumni have been asked to help, and the University has achieved near miracles on a shoe-string investment. But the fact remains that unless the University administration matches talk with cash, unless emergency units of almost any sort are set up within the next three months, close to 20 percent of the student body must forego either their families or their education.
Unlike many colleges throughout the country, Harvard entered the housing free-for-all late in the game. Six months after M.I.T. broke ground for their college-financed West gate project, Harvard was still tied down in complex arrangements with the city and federal government aimed at importing second-hand, defense plant dwellings for use on Cambridge sites. The negotiations paid off-200 families now live in the Jarvis Field and Business School developments-while 100 more will find lodging , though definitely not low-cost, in the recently acquired Brunswick Hotel. More than anything else, University Hall has counted on its allotment of facilities at Fort Devens to satisfy the demand at its pack next fall. But all of these projects combined can house but 900 families. The remaining 1600 applicants will form the ranks of Cambridge's own Displaced Persons, shuttling between boarding house and hotels until either patience or health gives out.
It is too late to talk about a boat missed a year ago. An examination of Tech's project, college planned, constructed and owned, is ample proof of what can be done by getting in on the ground floor and devoting large scale funds and talent toward the solution of a large-scale problem. A project of the same type at Harvard could not be completed in time to ease the September squeeze. Now University Hall must scramble to avert tragedy with all the means it can beg, brow or steal over the summer. It is also too late to fret over the eyesore quality of a colony of Quonset huts. The alternative picture of a family of three living in one room is not pretty either.
Quonset huts seem to be the only solution to a crisis that has been allowed to reach its eleventh hour. The University has contracted for forty of these structures. If the administration plans to use this as a model for other developments, forty are sufficient. But if the University means to drop the job there, it will be a clear demonstration that Harvard is still economizing as usual while colleges with much smaller endowments rally to meet this crisis in education. No less than ten times that number of emergency units, placed on Soldiers Field, along the River, in the Dunster tennis court, and in every nook, and cranny that is not in current use, will fill the gap.
Harvard has contracted to educate some 6000 veterans. It must realize that part of this responsibility includes expenditures that will insure the married veteran even a small part of the care lavished on his unmarried colleague.