“Separate but equal.” Those words were used to describe the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court case, but they could also stand for the, admittedly much less serious, residential inequality that exists at Harvard today. Several hundred students have to live in the altogether separate but savagely unequal Mather House.
Much has been written concerning Mather’s hideous, Gulag-like appearance. Mather house is about as picturesque as downtown New Haven, as welcoming to students as Fenway’s bleachers to Yankee fans.
But appearances are secondary, only 12 concrete feet deep. The real problem with Mather House is the schlep. Moses would have welcomed wandering in the desert had he been forced to make the epic journey—daily—from Mather to the Science Center. I suggest that the Olympics rename their long distance run the Matherathon. Meanwhile, for students in Adams House, classes are but an antique brick’s throw away.
Mather may offer single rooms to all its residents, but that does not make it acceptable. Satan’s fiery abyss may have singles, but I doubt it has a dining hall as inadequate as Mather’s.
Sure, Mather residents are blessed with a lovely view of the river. Unfortunately, they are not blessed with a grill facility in their dining hall. If we don’t like the food we cannot even order a hamburger. Or rather, we can order one, but the kind yet ill-equipped staff have to fetch it from Dunster. At this point, of course, 15 minutes have gone by, your friends are done eating, and you’re standing there, waiting like a putz for your burger.
Mather residents are not receiving the Harvard experience to which they are entitled. And I fear that the so-called shuttle system, which is eerily reminiscent of busing, has proven a woefully inefficient method of integration.
—DAVID A. WEINFELD