The Food Problem II: Dirt Under the Carpet?
When the Student Council decided to take a poll on what undergraduates think of Harvard food, they sent a representative up to Dean Bender and asked him whether the University would do anything if the ballot revealed that many men think the food is intolerable. The Council was told merely to go ahead with the poll; University officials would decide at their leisure if anything should be done. Go ahead with the poll, spend a hundred dollars and several months of work with no guarantee that the report would even be read.
At the same time vice-President Reynolds has steadfastly refused over the past few years to permit any outside organizations to investigate the Dining Halls Department. He explains that the Dinning Halls are already an efficient and well-run organization. Why then should he object to an investigation by a competent outside organization? It could not be that a probe would be too expensive, for the Dining Halls, made a $49,000 profit last year and Mr. Reynolds will admit that they are only expected to break even. It could not be that the Dining Halls are poorly run because Mr. Reynolds states they are not. Yet the food served is neither tasty nor appetizing.
Perhaps it could be that the entire system is wrong. Stanford University, which has a comparable number of diners, uses predominantly parttime student employees; Harvard employs only 60 undergraduates out of 505 workers. Stanford pays many of its part-time student servers with free food, both helping them get through college cheaply and leaving them unaffected by the increasing cost of food. Stanford occasionally, serves its diners steak, frequently fried chicken, always well cooked vegetables. The board rate at Stanford is $12.50 a week; the rate at Harvard is $12.25 a week.
There are undoubtedly differences between conditions at Stanford and those at Harvard, but on the surface they are not insurmountable. One must say "on the surface" because Mr. Reynolds has allowed no investigations of his Dining Hall department.
The cost of a thorough investigation by competent experts has been estimated at $5000. An item this size should certainly be a worthwhile investment in a business venture which handles a $2,000,000 gross annual business, even if there is little chance of prospective increase in efficiency. The Dining Halls department has no competition, and consequently no incentive for betterment; a benevolent monopoly, above all other kinds of business organizations, should spend considerable sums on efficiency investigations.
The CRIMSON is unwilling to share Mr. Reynolds' optimism that his house is in perfect order. Consequently it suggests;
1. That a simple poll be taken either by the House Committees or the Student Council, instead of the proposed detailed questionnaire of the Council. The poll should ask but one question: "Do you consider that the Dining Halls are giving you your money's worth?"
2. If the poll proves students think there is room for improvement, then Mr. Reynolds should hire an investigating body as soon as possible.