Life Under Budget Cuts

FAS has cut back $77 million so far­—what does this mean for you?

At this point, you’ve probably heard: Your soon-to-be alma mater is facing some, well, small financial difficulties. And by “difficulties,” I mean that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences is battling a mere $143 million budget deficit. True, we still have the largest endowment of any University in the world—by a long shot. But, in this time of crisis, Harvard needs to save some major dough. During its first round of cutbacks (which helped bring the deficit down from its original $220 million), the College unveiled the courageous sacrifices we students will have to endure as administrators attempt to “reshape” FAS.

Exam Proctors: Once upon a time, finals period brought with it a scene straight out of Florida’s retirement communities. The five elderly, blue-haired individuals overseeing your testing experience—one of whom bore a shocking resemblance to your stern great-uncle Seymour—took their responsibilities very seriously. But, no more. Now, teaching fellows from each course—who actually understand the material and their test’s format—will likely administer finals. What an idea! Someone knowledgeable might actually be present to answer questions!

Hot Breakfast: Now that Annenberg is the only place on campus that serves pancakes and omelettes during the week, expect pandemonium in the early hours as upperclassmen athletes attempt to get their fill. Trying to eat your Veritaffle in peace? Unlikely, with the lacrosse team bro-ing out so loudly at the neighboring table. Don’t attempt to strike up a conversation.

Lost Book Replacement Fee: Clearly, Harvard is going to make up its entire $143 million deficit by harassing you for not returning that one, random copy of “Dwelling and Architecture: from Heidegger to Koolhaas.”

Bigger Classes: Apparently, 18 has always been the “target” for the number of students enrolled in a Harvard section, but, in the past, you wouldn’t know it (the average was 13 students last year). Now, we’re aiming for perfection like never before. Which means it will be even easier to check Gmail on your iPhone while painting your nails, reading The Crimson online, and eating a doughnut—all while your Gov 20 TF goes on and on about something called “volunteerism.” (Or was it “voluntarism?” Let’s just hope that one’s not on the midterm.)

Quad Library: Administrators say they’re converting it into “social space,” so now Quadlings will have to toil away on papers in Lamont. Just one more reason to pray you’re not Quadded. Beg the River Gods, nightly.

Athletics: If you have dreams of becoming Harvard’s next junior varsity men’s hockey, baseball, or basketball star, you’ve got another think coming. Newsflash: These teams now enjoy club status. And, have I mentioned that you won’t be eating hot breakfast come sophomore year, unless you trek to the ‘Berg?

Faculty Expenses: Your dreams of one day becoming a renowned Harvard professor and flying your private jet to weekly conferences in Dubai—free martini in hand—have been dashed. Now that FAS will no longer be spending $13 million on travel, meals, and entertainment for its most elite, you’ll just have to settle for eating a no-longer-“subsidized” meal at the Harvard Faculty Club when you become a professor.

—Staff writer Molly M. Strauss can be reached at mstrauss@fas.harvard.edu.

For more information on the ins and outs of Harvard life, visit the My First Year homepage.