At the close of every college year there are several hundred students leaving Cambridge, who are forced to sell their furniture to second-hand dealers for as much as they can get; every fall at the opening of the term there are as many persons who must furnish rooms, and who for the most part go to these same dealers for the necessary furniture. For the dealers, this is an ideal situation; those leaving college are helpless and must accept what the dealers offer; the new arrivals are almost as helpless and must pay them whatever is asked. The trade between individual students is so small as to have no effect on the general situation; that carried on through the medium of janitors is just about as disadvantageous to the students as is the trade with the regular dealers.
The solution is obvious; an undergraduate organization to fill the need of a furniture exchange, were founded, would be of service in more than one way. Its function would be to buy all furniture that is for sale in the spring, at a fair price; in the fall to sell the furniture to new students for a price different from that paid in the spring only by an amount large enough to provide an adequate return on the capital invested and the labor involved; it is not uncertain that the dealers; fall price includes much more than this. A bureau run on such principles could not fail to be of service, and would be almost certain to succeed. Advantages from such a system would accrue to those leaving college, and to those new arrivals in need of furniture; in addition, it would offer employment to a number of students who could be engaged in carrying on its business. Its chief benefit, of course, would be a reduction in college expenses; and any reduction, however small, would be most welcome.