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[We invite all men in the University to submit communications on subjects of timely interest. The Crimson is not, however, responsible for the sentiments expressed in such communications as may be printed.]
To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
In part of President Eliot's last annual report, just published in the Graduates' Magazine, there is a paragraph which it seems to me deserves consideration from a somewhat different standpoint. Speaking of the increase of private dormitories and the large number of students living outside of College buildings, the President says, "An experience of 270 years with dormitories has demonstrated that they are not good property for the College, it having proved impossible to earn on them so good an income as the mass of general investments of the University yields. The President and Fellows have not built a dormitory with their own money since 1870-71, and are not likely ever to build another, unless with money given for that express purpose." This is a purely business statement. It says that in general dormitories are not a good thing for the College to own because they have not proved to be a good investment. Now, although it is fairly plain to all men who have come into the Yard from private dormitories just why the Corporation has not succeeded in renting its rooms, that is not just what seems to need discussion.
It seems to me that it is not right for the Corporation to cast aside the policy of having College dormitories merely because they do not pay in round dollars. Any man who has lived in the Yard for a couple of years values what he got there more than a good many dollars. The College must lose money and always will do so as long as it is to be a College which is loved at all. To be a real College it must give more than it gets, and the idea of trying to make the books balance in cold cash seems to me rather foolish. It rather smacks of too much commerciality in a place where we are supposed to care for better things.
It is true that the College is in financial difficulties, but so is every other college. Was any college ever otherwise, or will they ever be otherwise in the future? If a college ever gets to the place where it ceases to have to beg for money it means that that college is getting as much as it gives, which is not right.
What a man gets out of living in a College dormitory cannot be measured in dollars and cents. If the Corporation intends to give the best to the students it should give them more and better College dormitories even if it should prove a poor financial investment. As I said at the beginning it does not seem right for the President and Fellows to look at the question of Yard dormitories in such a coldly financial spirit. 1907
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