Close Student-Faculty Friendships Give Informal Atmosphere to Dunster House

An appropriately lazy cloud of smoke circled the room. It wasn't a large room, and so it was crowded, in a disorganized way. Most of the smoke rose from clusters around the three chess boards; most of the conversation seemed to come from a corner where two students were besieged by a crowd of eager gestures.

"A big Hell's Canyon dam would repay its cost--plus interest", challenged one of the attackers. The figure at the piano lapsed from Stravinsky to Gershwin. "Besides, think of the rise in kilowatts if.."

The time was Sunday afternoon, the speaker was Arthur A. Maass, associate professor of Government, and, in a way, the common room scene typified the place--Dunster House.

Statistically, Dunster is much like any other House. It has a somewhat smaller membership--about 375--but like the others, it has TV, laundry facilities, dances, language tables, and resident tutors. It does have a distinct physical disadvantage; whatever people may say about Dunster being closer to Lamont than Eliot, it's still a long way to Harvard Hall on an icy morning.

But similarly, there are tangible phenomena which may better explain the character of the House than trite, ineffable somethings like "congenial community."


Academically, Dunster is one of the leading Houses. While 14 percent of the College achieved group I or II, Dunster placed 60 men, or 16 percent, at midyears. Last year's class pulled down two of the four Sheldon Fellowships awarded by the College, and two of the other five Fellowships, the Shaw and the Knox, went to Dunster residents. In addition, Funsters walked off with 4 of the 17 Fulbrights awarded in the University, 3 of the 4 Rockefeller Theological Fellowships, a Rhodes Scholarship, and a Boylston Prize.

The House library of 12,000 volumes has long been strong in the social sciences, particularly history and government. A library committee comprised of resident tutors has, in the last few years, greatly strengthened the science collection.

Athletically, the House has won the Straus Trophy, signifying the overall intramural championship, for three years, and Dunster teams are now fighting leading Winthrop for a fourth title. Eight excellent squash courts are located in the House, and the annual tournament drew over 60 entries this year.

A House Forum, which has had discussions ranging from desegregation to Peron, and a Music Society, each present common room programs on alternate Wednesdays, and the Dunster Dunces, made up of House members, are a well-Known Cambridge singing ensemble.

But a simple rule, established long ago by Master Gordon M. Fair, has prompted perhaps the most important advantage of Dunster. The rule is that "No more than two tutors can sit at a dining hall table"; the result is that tutors join students for meals rather than eat together.

Consequently, close student-faculty friendships are formed and the ultimate--informal--result is that one student can periodically test a Government tutor--on a mutual first-name basis--to see who knows the names of the most Senators. Another student can get breakfast in bed, served by his tutor, after winning a football.

One of the most memorable illustrations came at a party last fall, following the Yale game. Carroll F. (Stan) Miles, Dunster senior tutor, was engaged in a lengthy defense of St. Thomas when he was suddenly interrupted by raucous Eli taunts from outside. Retaliation was swift and sure. Miles bolted for the door, threw the first snowball,--and connected.

Take Your Pick

Dunster has two singles available for next year at an undisclosed sum. Other vacancies include 30 doubles ($115-240), 17 triples ($130-205), and nine quadruples ($165-195).

Recommended Articles