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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Communication.

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Editors Daily Crimson:-

The officers of the Dining Association for 1890-91 will be chosen this week. There is always danger that the elections will go by haphazard, for it is nobody's particular business, and the offices imply plenty of work and responsibility without any "honor." Therefore will you let me remind the members of one or two facts of ancient history?

In the winter of 1887-88, there was hardly an article of food at the Hall which did not cause complaint. The bread was half the time sour, and the water foul; the oatmeal and the vegetables were often so cooked as to be uneatable; the fish, poultry, chops, coffee, were positively bad. Very little order was kept during meals. The bill of fare was chosen by regular routine, so that you could predict every meal beforehand. And with all this, the price of board averaged $4.23 a week during the first two terms. This was the condition into which inefficient management could sink the Hall, and the condition out of which the present management has raised it.

In the middle of that winter, a good many of us came to feel that merely on the score of health, patience had ceased to be a virtue. Accordingly a very frank protest was drawn up, numerously signed, and sent to the Board of Directors. The latter appointed a committee, at the head of which was Mr. Darling, to report fully upon possible improvents in the Hall. This report was the first step, and a long one, toward reform. Chefly in consequence of it, Mr. Darling was chosen President at the next election; and last year, having received a written request signed by 550 out of the 700 members, he consented to serve again.

There never was a time, and never will be, when Memorial board,-cooked by wholesale, and served by negro waiters to tables each averaging thirteen men,-will be appetizing; especially when all the thirteen are apt to come in together, expecting to be served at once, and to allow, on an average, less than half an hour to a meal. But I believe that the board is better now than ever before. The price has averaged only $4.04 per week. Very little of the food has been unfit to eat. There has been a good deal of variety. And, as showing the general feeling, three facts are significant. The complaints handed to the Directors have been unprecedentedly few; an unusual number of men who could afford to go elsewhere are boarding at Memorial; and 75 names are still on the waiting list, while in previous years there has never been any waiting list at all after the first of March. These facts point to a year of uncommon progress: and what is the inference? I understand that Mr. Darling is exceedingly unwilling to be re-nominated. But in so serious a matter as this, the college has a right to the services of the men who can serve her best, and Mr. Darling has one qualification which no other candidate can have,-success behind him.

One has a right to say as much as this, because the management of the Hall is purely and solely a business matter. After having been a member and gone through the grind for four years, one appreciates the immense importance, for health and work and fun, of having one's food at least eat eatable. Before Mr. Darling's administration it was not even this.

'91.

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