Humanities 'Quad' Debated

Faculty Council Questions Planned Union of Departments

Faculty Council members yesterday expressed concern about plans for the Humanities Quadrangle a center intended to consolidate department to promote academic interaction and streamline costs.

The quadrangle, which will be located in the Freshman Union area on Quincy Street, is scheduled to be ready for occupancy in the fall of 1996.

Members questioned the intention behind bringing together 17 humanities departments and programs, including English, Women's Studies and Romance Languages and Literatures.

While some members asked if the quadrangle was meant to be an intellectual association, others questioned whether the union was intended to cut costs. Some asked pointedly departments already slated to be in the humanities are can decide not to move.

Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Christoph J. Wolff, who chairs the committee planning the quadrangle, presented a "preliminary interim report" to the council on the status of the project. Although many Faculty Council members learned details about the humanities quadrangle only yesterday, Wolff said the plans are "pretty fixed."

"There is not much flexibility at this time," Wolff said.

Still, faculty members from some fields expressed reluctance about being displaced from their present offices to a more centralized location.

"Some professors are concerned that this center will lead to a loss of individual departmental identity at Harvard, which is something that has happened at other schools," said Professor of History James Hankins. "Some people are unjustly afraid that this could happen at Harvard."

Professors in the Women's Studies program said they are afraid of losing the identity of their still-developing interdisciplinary program.

"Women's Studies seems to have been dragooned into this center," Hankins said. "Some people in the program are happy because being part of thehumanities center puts them on the map."

Hankins said that while some colleagues believeinclusion of Women's Studies in the quadranglewill help establish the program as a legitimatediscipline, others think it will stifle theprogram's development.

Seferis Professor of Modern Greek StudiesMargaret B. Alexiou, a member of the Committee onWemen's Studies, acknowledged these concerns. Butshe also said Women's Studies could fit wellwithin the confines of the humanities center.

"There are several little pockets like Women'sStudies and Folklore and Mythology that would eachlike to keep its center," Alexiou said. "AlthoughI'm sympathetic to the need to create our ownspace within a big one, I think the small unitsshould learn to coexist...rather than eachfighting for a tiny bit of territory or our own."

Although Alexiou said she is optimistic aboutthe humanities quadrangle, Professor of SociologyTheda Skocpol expressed concern about how theadministration decided which departments would fitbest within the center.

"Sometimes administrators don't take intoaccount the intellectual goals and specific needsof a specific academic program at specific times,"said Skocpol, a member of the Committee on Women'sStudies.

"The quadrangle is probably a good thing in thefinal analysis for most of those who are beingtold to move into," Skocpol added.

But the positive results of the quadrangle maynot surface until well after the move-in, Hankinssaid. In the meantime, the debate will rage.

"Undoubtedly, once this project nearscompletion, there will be lots of debate over thespace in this complex," Hankins said.

According to Secretary to the Faculty CouncilJohn B. Fox Jr. '59, the humanities complex willprovide 10 percent more office space forhumanities professors and teaching fellows. Foxalso said it would save the University money itcurrently pays in rent on some of its buildings.

Despite the projected increase in office space,Hankins said the University would have to providetwice as much office space as it currently has torelieve any space problems.

But the blueprints aren't even drawn yet. AndProfessor of Government Gary King, a FacultyCouncil member, said that all 125 faculty memberswho will be affected by the move was interviewedby an outside consultant about their concerns.

Assistant Professor of the Classics CynthiaDamon, a council member, said she wasn't sure sheplans were settled enough yet to make worryworthwhile.

"It's still not concrete enough to say thatpeople are enthusiastic or displeased," Damonsaid