First-year students next year will be able to watch cable TV in the comforts of the Harvard Union.
The Freshman Caucus, a group within the Undergraduate Council equivalent to a house committee for first-years, paid Continental Cablevision $1,000 last week to cover the cost of installation and monthly fees for next year. The system will be installed this month, but service will not begin until September.
Sourav Goswami '96, Undergraduate Council representative for the South Yard, championed the project. The Freshman Caucus was allotted $1,600 and had to decide how to spend the money.
"All the other Ivy League schools have cable, and we felt students here should have the same opportunities," Goswami said.
Randall A. Fine '96, secretary of the Undergraduate Council, said "You can't be an educated person in society today without some of the educational channels on cable like CNN and CSPAN."
Goswami said the council faced obstacles because the Union was a historic building and the installation job looked extremely difficult and costly.
However, when Goswami spoke to the superintendents of the Yard and Union, they found an underground conduit through which the cable could be fed with minimal drilling, resolving concerns over the building's historic status and reducing installation costs greatly.
"The U.C. was a big catalyst in this," Fine said. "Some [administrators] gave their approval, but no one was an advocate. It was us pushing, and they had no real reason to say no."
Goswami said the cable company agreed to perform the job for only $1,000 because they "saw the advantages of getting into the Union. They have been trying to get cable into Harvard for years and they wanted to grab the opportunity."
"Hopefully, this is only the first step," Fine said. "In 18 months we want to see cable in everybody's room, as an optional thing similar to what exists in DeWolfe and 29 Garden St."
Goswami said before they try to get cable in student's rooms they want to get it in house common spaces like the junior common rooms or the house grills.
"That would be a great service to students," said Bert I. Huang '96. But other students commenting on the plan gave it mixed reviews.
"People should have the option to have cable in their rooms, but it's unnecessary to put it in a public space like the Union," said Rachel A. Siegel '96. "Spend the money on something else."
Adam A. Abramson '96 said installing cable in everybody's room "would be great. It's a luxury I'm sure a lot of people would be ecstatic about having."
Quincy House resident Daniel S. Budnitz '93, on the other hand, said. "I think it might be nice in [house] common rooms, but it's not necessary in personal rooms.