Harvard's sophomore suites still have double bedrooms and tiny common rooms, but the residential houses are underpopulated.
While last year's housing crunch sent upperclassmen to live in freshman dorms and rented apartments, smaller classes, longer academic leaves, and a new housing program have lowered the 12 houses' population to 4590, said Housing Officer Lisa M. Colvin. The residential houses officially can accommodate 35 more students.
Fifty-three fewer upperclassmen signed up for on-campus housing this year than last, a drop which Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 attributed to the fact that fewer students returned from leave this year. The smaller house population also reflects the 1985 decision to reduce the size of each subsequent freshman class.
In addition, 15 students took advantage of the new annex housing plan which allows undergraduates to rent apartments from Harvard Real Estate (HRE) at reduced prices.
The empty rooms are distributed unevenly among the houses. Although Mather House has about eight empty rooms, several houses, including Lowell, Dunster and Adams, are slightly above their target populations.
The housing office has eased the problem by allocating previously reserved space in Claverly Hall to the more crowded houses. Adams received six additional Claverly rooms and four Dunster affiliates will also be living in the dormitory.
For the third year in a row, Quadlings will be displaced by renovations in North and Cabot Houses. The on-campus population figures do not include 30 North House students who were slated to live on the fourth floor of Comstock Hall. They have temporarily moved into Harvard-owned apartments.
The College has rented the apartments from HRE for the entire first semester, although the students will be allowed to move into the building whenever it is ready.
The housing situation has also improved for transfer students. Last year transfer students lost their guarantee of on-campus rooms for their senior years because of the housing crunch. While they have not regained that right, they are eligible this year for the new annex housing program.
Because of the empty space, some transfer students may also be able to move into the residential houses with which they are affiliated.