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AS at present constituted, the Harvard University Boat-Club is a boat-club only in name, and consists of an association that hires the boat-house, and, by hook or by crook, scrapes together enough money to pay the expenses of the University crew or to arrange its debts. Instead of encouraging the real interest in boating, it rather discourages it by calling on the undergraduates for $2,000 or $3,000 every year without giving anybody a chance to row excepting the crew and those who go to the additional expense of buying a boat and paying rent on it. Membership of the H. U. B. C. merely gives one the privilege of going into the boat-house and taking a shower-bath.
That this is so is not the fault of the executive committee, but of the system. Our whole system of boating is unnecessarily complex and expensive. Fellows who want to row but cannot get on the University crew or afford to buy a boat join one of the four clubs which have heretofore hired their boats of Mr. Blakey; but after paying the assessment most of them feel too poor, or perhaps disinelined, to do much for the crew. their club were originally intended to be included in the H. U. B. C., but they have forgotten this and feel gouged if obliged to join.
We thus see a direct opposition of interests between the men who row for their own pleasure in the clubs, and the crew on which depends the honor of the University in boating. Now I wish to propose a plan for a University boat-club, which shall make the interests of all common, and which shall be a boat-club in fact as well as in name, giving every member the opportunity of rowing. This plan could not be carried into effect immediately, but as soon as the clubs have bought and paid for the boats they now hire, - say in a year from now. It is as follows: That the subordinate clubs consolidate with the H. U. B. C., and that all the boats be the property of the new University boat-club so formed, and for the use of any member of it. There are a number of six-oar shells, single shells, pair oars, etc. now in the boat-house that could be added to the common stock of boats. The membership fee should be ten dollars a year, and every member of the University who subscribes ten dollars or more to the crew should be made a member of the new H. U. B. C. The rent of a rest should be lowered to five dollars a year, and none but members allowed to keep private boats in the houses. For the sake of races the members should be divided into four divisions, according to the present boundaries of the clubs, and each division have a captain who could reserve a boat for the use of his crew at certain hours of the day, while at all other times the boats should be at the disposal of any of the members. These divisions should be merely for the purpose of dividing the rowing men into crews, and consequently there would be no need of any officers other than the captain. The general management of the club-should be in the hands of an executive committee as at present. No more work would devolve upon the assistant treasurer than now; for in making his canvass for money he would simply invite fellows to join the boat-club instead of subscribing ten dollars to the crew, and nobody would be prevented from giving as a subscription more or less than that amount. By this plan the University crew could be supported, I think, out of the general funds of the club; for the number of rowing men would not increase in proportion to the number of paying members, and there would be no need of spending all the money on the purchase and repair of boats. Every year the University crew would turn over to the use of the other members one or more eight-oar shells or barges which would have been used but little; and so the number of new boats required would be small. All the crews would in time row in eights; but that would be no disadvantage, as it would be just as easy for a division to get one eight together, as it is now for a club to get a six and a four.
Let us make an estimate of how much money we could expect to raise each year, and what would be the expense of running such a system.
This year one hundred and eighty-six men have subscribed ten dollars or over to the University crew, and about an equal number have joined the clubs at ten dollars each. So it is safe to estimate that, by the new system, we should have three hundred and fifty members.
350 Members at ten dollars each $3,500
20 Rests at five dollars each 100
Expenses of University crew including one
new boat $1,500
Rent of both boat-houses 600
Janitor's salary 400
Left for new boats and repairs 1,100
That is, we should have eleven hundred dollars to spend on repairs and new boats, and besides should have the eight-oar cast off by the University crew. The expenses of the crew for this year will not exceed the amount named, and do not need to any year. For four hundred dollars a janitor could be hired to give all his time and care to the premises, and so keep them in much better order than at present.
The advantages of this plan are obvious. It economizes both boats and money, and encourages rowing inasmuch as it gives every one who has subscribed ten dollars to the University crew an opportunity to row, while at the same time the number who actually row would not be in creased enough to make the boats crowded. A seat for every third or fourth man could be provided easily.
H. J. H.
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