In a move that breaks with past policy, the University said yesterday it cannot guarantee new transfer students any on-campus housing while they are at Harvard due to severe crowding problems.
The change, announced in the acceptance packets mailed last June and confirmed by administrators, marked a change from past years when the University assured transfer students at least senior-year spots in the hotly-sought-after undergraduate houses.
The reversal--which first affects 79 sophomore and junior transfer students--left new transfer students resigned and undergraduate observers surprised yesterday.
"Certainly no guarantee is being extended to you that you will at some point be able to take up residence in a house," Assistant Dean for the House System Thomas A. Dingman '67 wrote in a general letter to incoming students, explaining the housing system. Citing "unprecedented" housing difficulties, Dingman wrote that a campus-wide housing crunch kept the University from making that assurance this year.
Overcrowding in 11 of the 12 residential houses has forced some rising sophomores off-campus and into Yard dormitories.
In a telephone interview, yesterday, Dingman said that the change was only a temporary measure designed to precede a long-standing solution that will be determined next spring.
"It would be premature to call it a change of policy," he said, adding, "there will be some resolution this [school] year." Options for a resolution, Dingman said, include additional housing for transfer students and increased incentives for living off-campus. Whether any might "return the guarantee," is still uncertain, he said.
"We had no idea this would happen and we saw this as a huge step backwards," said Dudley House CoordinatingCommittee co-chairman, Scott D. Easton '88, whocollaborated on a report on transfer studenthousing last spring.
Evan M. Supcoff '88, the other Dudley Houseco-chair concurred, saying, "It came as a surpriseto almost everyone."
"It could be a step forwards if theadministration involves us in the decisionprocess. I think Dean [of the College L. Fred]Jewett ['57] is sincere," Easton added.
Incoming transfer students yesterday wereresigned to Harvard's changed housing polilcy.
"It's not like they took something away," saidL.D. Hull '88, who spent his freshman year atWheaton College in Illinois. "We never had theprivilege in the first place."
"I applied knowing that I'd have to spend partor all my time as a non-resident... I'm not reallyupset," the Peabody Terrace resident said.
Some students, like Mark J. Evans '88, also aPeabody Terrace resident, accepted the change lessphilosophically.
"I think it's terrible," the one-timeCalifornia Institute of Technology student said."I almost turned Harvard down," he said, addingthat he nearly went to Stanford University forjust that reason