Liberalizing House dining-hall privileges seems to be the present policy of the authorities. Praiseworthy is the experiment of introducing Freshmen to the Houses by allowing them the right to take 14 meals in the Houses without extra charge, in substitution for an equal number at the Union. One dining-hall reform suggests investigation of another possible improvement, change in present scale of dining-hall prices for 21, 14, and 10 meals.
The student who signs up for 21 meals pays an average of 40 cents for each. A week of eating at the various restaurants on the Square will prove that quantity and quality cannot be duplicated at the price. Rather it is the 14 and 10-meal plans which cause dissatisfaction. Few men find either worth-while when the average price leaps to 50 cents in the first case, and to over 60 cents in the second. The intent of such a disproportionate scale of prices is obvious, to discourage meal-taking outside the Houses.
Maintenance of the so-called House spirit does not depend on students finding sustenance exclusively in the Houses. Even under the present almost obligatory system, the student who takes more than 18 meals in his House is as rare as an American photographer in Japan. Wholly proportionate decrease in price for a lesser number of meals admittedly is not feasible because of certain fixed charges. But a reduction of the 14 and 10-meal prices to a point more consistent with actual costs, and a dismissal of the traditional official belief that the 21-meal arrangement furthers "house spirit," would tally more closely with student needs and pocketbooks. Blackjacking many students into paying for meals they don't require, merely to support a theory that is on the whole untenable, is preposterous.