The Year Ahead

Harvard should seize opportunities for recovery and renewal

The 2010-2011 school year has officially begun, and considering the significant changes implemented in recent years, students may be wondering what to expect from the College in the coming months. With the recession appearing to bottom out and recovery in near sight, we hope that University Hall views the re-expansion of programs put on hold by budget cuts to be a top priority.

In light of the recession’s impact on Harvard’s endowment, budget cuts beginning during the 2008-2009 school year were arguably unavoidable. Some such reductions, such as those targeting discretionary faculty spending, were appropriate and should be retained. Others, however—like the disappearance of hot breakfast in upperclass Houses—must be reconsidered due to the outpouring of student concern.

The indefinite postponement of the Allston Science Complex’s construction likewise merits reevaluation. If Harvard wishes to remain at the forefront of future research and innovation, it cannot hesitate to move forward, even in the close wake of economic adversity. Doing so is part of what it means to lead.

In addition to addressing some of the most strongly felt budget cuts, Harvard must also uphold its promise of expanded J-Term opportunities, since scanty offerings last year left much to be desired. The College has already begun to move in an expansionary direction elsewhere, what with the widely welcomed return of junior economics tutorials—although the lottery element remains less than ideal. Along similar lines, students would benefit from an increased number of teaching fellows, accompanied by a decrease in section sizes.

Change has already occurred outside the sphere of academic life, with the arrival of new House Masters in Cabot, Eliot, and Mather. The coming months should prove informative as the Harvard community gains a richer sense of what each new Master has to offer and in what ways they may come to redefine House life.

On the subject of new additions, Harvard’s decision to once again admit transfer students, after not doing so for two years, deserves high praise; we hope that the practice continues well into the future. The low number of accepted transfer students promises only incremental cost increases for the College, but these individuals and the diverse backgrounds they bring with them can only serve to augment the strength of the student body as a whole.

Mirroring evidence of expansion within the University, new businesses in the Square serve as a welcome sign of economic resurgence. The Harvard Community Garden, which opened last spring, also provides a visual reminder of growth. In the year ahead, we trust that the College will make every effort to follow this trajectory, emerging from a difficult period with a renewed capacity to educate and care for its students.

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