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FRESHMEN IN THE YARD

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

While there has been no official recognition of the rumor that future Freshman classes of Harvard College will be lodged in the Yard, every indication points to an uprooting of the ties which now bind the first year unit to the dormitories fronting the Charles and a transplanting of the entire Freshman group in the Yard. Such a step, radical as it may seem to those who have come to accept the present distribution of classes as an inevitable law, would only be a corollary to the policy of dividing Harvard College into six Houses, the occupants of which will be, not Freshmen, but Seniors, Juniors, and Sophomores. With the building program being directed toward the river, future first year classes will either have to be moved to the Yard or allowed to remain in the dormitories occupied at present in acute proximity to the new Houses. Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives, the sequestration of Freshman classes in the Yard after the House plan has fully gone into effect would seem to offer the auspicious solution of a problem which has as its issue, either the Freshmen being removed from their present quarters, or the new Houses being scattered from the banks of the Charles to the interior of the Yard.

Dismissing all arguments based upon sentiment and tradition, the former as irrelevant with the far-reaching ramifications of the entire House plan, the latter as vulnerable due to the brief existence of the Freshman dormitories and the absolute lack of a Senior monopoly on the Yard dwellings, the paramount argument in opposition to moving the Freshmen is based upon the success of the present system of Freshman dormitories. This success, however, is purely accidental, the dormitories having been built more with an eye for such a plan as Mr. Harkness has made possible in conjunction with a desire to disintegrate the Gold Coast cliques than for any of the less tangible advantages which have accrued from assembling the first year men in the same group of buildings. As any change of affairs would have been a decided improvement over the prevalent assimilation of first year men prior to the construction of the Freshman dormitories, the latter were successful beyond all expectations and made the first year as "leveling" as the early sprouting of Harvard individualism and class distinctions would permit.

The cloistering of the Freshmen in the Yard, with adequate dining hall accommodations, would certainly have much the same result in spite of the smaller and more numerous buildings. Rooming the entering class under the present method in such quadrangles as formed, for example, by Straus, Matthews, and Massachusetts Halls, and again by Lionel, Mower, Greys, and Stoughton, would not give rise to any radical differences from those conditions now existing in any one of the Freshman dormitories. While the smaller buildings might possibly encourage the formation of cliques more than the larger dormitories, this problem could be solved in much the same way it is done at present. The assignment of rooms in Mower could be done on a minor scale as compared with the filling of a hall the size of Gore. The circulation of members of the first year class among the small Yard buildings would parallel the contacts established between McKinlock, Gore, Standish, and Smith Halls. Besides while the Yard would only hold the same number the Freshman Halls accommodate, it would possess the distinction of being a complete unit, those members of other classes who now mingle with the Seniors being excluded.

Insofar as the out-lay of the new Houses in the imminent building campaign, has been made known by the University authorities, it seems that the Freshman dormitories are definitely incorporated in the plan. With one unit on the site now occupied by the power plant, one behind Gore, and another one possibly on the river front beyond McKinlock, the inference is that Smith Halls will form another House as will Standish, Gore and McKinlock combined. With the new Houses surrounding the Freshman dormitories, it certainly seems far safer to move the Freshmen to the Yard than to try to work the two systems side by side. Moreover, if the Freshmen are not moved, the Yard dormitories will have to be split into Houses. Such a procedure would be far more difficult and much less likely to succeed than the adapting of the Yard to the present system of Freshman segregation.

The one serious obstacle in this step would be the problem of dining hall accommodations for the new residents of the Yard. The Harvard Union, as it is at present or with an annex, would be unsatisfactory. The unsavory reputation of Memorial Hall as a dining hall, its distance from most Yard dormitories, its uncongenial atmosphere, and the amount of money it would take to equip it satisfactorily, seem more than to offset the advantage of having the entire class eat together. Small dining halls on the first floor of buildings like Harvard Hall, for example, present another alternative, but in the last analysis the solution of the problem depends largely upon the amount of money available for meeting the situation. If the Freshmen are to be moved to the Yard, too much attention cannot be given the question of how to provide for the most satisfactory dining hall accommodations.

The major argument favoring the hegira of the Freshman classes to the Yard as that it is, after all, the logical and practical place for the incoming men to live. A great deal has been said about the advantages of living in the Yard and the dubious contagion of its past and present associations. The intangible benefit derived would certainly be more profitable to the susceptible Freshman than to the blase Senior. With most of the upperclassmen separated from the College office proper by an intermediary House master, the Freshman class will be the almost important group directly under University Hall supervision. This proximity of the first year class further enhances a distribution plan whose guiding impulse is practically.

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