One of the most important problems at Harvard, yet at the same time one of the most neglected, is that of the commuter. Generally speaking, he comes to classes in the morning and returns home at noontime. He often does not associate with other members of his class, and he frequently does not take advantage of the opportunities which the college offers. He represents a problem which is hardly noticed by the rank and file of men who live in college rooms, yet it is a problem which affects a considerable proportion of the members of each class.
The use of Dudley Hall as a commuters' center has done much to alleviate the situation. Meals are offered at very low rates, and lockers, study halls, radios, ping-pong tables, and a common room are provided. But Dudley Hall is forced to work on a limited budget, and the facilities afforded the commuters are vastly inferior to those in the Houses and the Union. Despite the excellent work which is being done at the commuters' center, many of the original problems still exist, and most of them cannot be solved under present conditions.
The average commuter, for instance, does not tend to enlarge his acquaintance with other members of his class. His range of friends is all too frequently limited to the men who sit on either side of him in classes and to those who live in his town and commute with him. Dudley Hall is not open in the evening, with the result that commuters always eat their dinner at home. And because many of the college's extra-curricular activities take place during the evening, the commuter does not participate in them. Many live so far away that several hours a day are neded for traveling to and from college. Such students are inclined to ignore sports and other activities because they cut into the time neded for study. Furthermore, students who live at college tend, unwittingly perhaps, to attach a social stigma to the man who commutes.
To a very large extent the blame for these problems must be laid on the commuters themselves. Many of them do not take advantage of the opportunities which Dudley Hall offers--advantages such as inter-house sports teams, lectures, meetings, and organizations. Many commuters, in fact, do not even belong to Dudley. Frequently they could engage in extra-curricular activities during the day-time, but prefer to go home early instead. And often they do not attempt to enlarge their circle of acquaintances, and are content to know only a few members of their class. But the students themselves are by no means wholly to blame, and most of the other conditions are unavoidable under present circumstances.
Obviously the problems of the commuter are, for the most part, still unsolved, and the solution is, naturally enough, not easy to find. Perhaps non-resident House membership for those upperclassmen who deserve it scholastically might be the answer to the question. Perhaps an increased effort to lower dinning hall rates, so that commuters could afford to eat in the Houses or the Union, would solve much of the difficulty. Whatever the solution may be, however, there is no doubt that the problem exists, and that considerable effort must be made to ameliorate the conditions which caused it.