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Plan to Provide "Better Type of Job" While Increasing Undergraduate Employment Urged in Council Report

Non-Political Help Financed By N.Y.A.


The following is the text of the report of the Student Council on "Financial and Employment Aids for Students," which recommended that the University accept National Youth Administration scholarships. Prepared by Langdon P. Marvin, Jr. '41 and John C. Robbins, '42, the report was unanimously passed by the Council Wednesday night and was released for publication Thursday.

As in several previous reports, the Student Council is again considering the problem of financial aids for students. It is to the credit of Harvard that a college education is offered to students whose families are in all different income brackets. A true cross-section of the youth of the nation can be maintained in the college only if there is abundant opportunity for students to earn scholarships or to work their way. It is with this problem that we are concerned.

Work for students is arranged by the Student Employment Office, which serves as an agency selecting students for employers outside the college, and which also administers the Temporary Student Employment plan (which supplies jobs as librarians, assistants in museums, etc.) financed out of Dining Hall profits, etc.

Not Enough Jobs

There is a considerable disparity between the demand and supply of jobs, and the conclusion is obvious that many students would like to earn more money than they are at present. T.S.E. unfortunately is a very limited source of supply. First of all, commuters, out of house men and graduate students are excluded from it. Secondly, T.S.E. does not have enough jobs to equal the demand of even the undergraduates living in the Houses who are eligible.

It was estimated by Mr. Sharpe (quoted in Student Council Report on "Student Food Service" Apr.1940) that in the normal year 50-100 students are forced to leave college mainly for financial reasons. While that number was reduced last year, the conclusion should not be drawn that the financial problem of students is solved. The large burden on the families of many students, and on the pocketbooks of many students themselves, could well be partly relieved by additional financial or employment aid.

Commuters and Graduate Students

These two groups are especially in need of some from of additional aid. The commuters cannot accept jobs waiting on tables nor room-for-service jobs. They are ineligible for T.S.E. and they receive no employment aid from the University. Like the Graduate Students they are dependent on cash jobs outside the University, and such positions are not easily found.


The above-cited figures indicate that an increase in financial aid for students is very necessary. Therefore, the Student Council Committee recommends very strongly that Harvard University apply for funds from the National Youth Administration in order to start a Student Work Program. It would then be possible to obtain jobs for 10% of the University's enrollment, enabling approximately 600 students to earn an average of $15 per month-or $135 for the college year. The Student Council Committee puts forward several important reasons in favor of N.Y.A.:

1) It would fill a large gap in the University's program of employment aid.

2) It would benefit not only the neglected commuters and graduate students but also the undergraduates.

Better Type of Job

3) It would provide a much better type of job for students than those held by many students at present. In order that they may complete their education students are paid by the N.Y.A. for doing public or semi-public work. In other words, boys can find jobs as librarians, laboratory assistants, typists, workers in museums, assistants to professors, etc., instead of having to take jobs waiting on tables in Boston hotels and night clubs, selling shoes, etc. The former type of job could work in nicely with a man's study program whereas the latter takes many hours a week out of his college work.

4) N.Y.A. work would also enable the University to complete many projects in the museums, laboratories, etc., which cannot be handled now due to lack of funds. Thus a N.Y.A. work program which pays a student a catalogue material in a library or to help a professor in research work benefits both the student and the University. Furthermore the jobs could be such as to benefit all the undergraduates as well-for example, if the number of Librarians were doubled with half paid (as how) by T.S.E. and the other half by N.Y.A.

Would Help Meet Deficit

5) N.Y.A. may well be a boon to the University, especially in the future. With private endowments on the decrease, the $80,000 a year which would come from N.Y.A. for use in the University, would be very necessary. Last year the University ended with a slight deficit.

In future years the deficit may grow larger, especially with the decrease in Student fees anticipated in Dean Chase's report. It seems to the Student Council Committee, that instead of cutting down expenses by reducing the pay of the faculty or by cutting down the number of teachers, or by reducing the present assistance to students, the budget problem could better be met by N.Y.A. funds.

The N.Y.A.funds, of course, do not add directly to the University's income. But these funds might partly release other funds for different uses in the University.

For example: at present T.S.E. is financed by Dining hall profits. If N.Y.A. were adopted, part of these funds from the Dining Halls could be diverted to Professors salaries. Or dining hall rates could be reduced to save students some money. Also many of the administrative offices of the college could benefit by the addition of N.Y.A.workers and therefore money which might go for extra assistants in these offices could be saved for other purposes. in other words, indirectly, the University budget could be benefited by the N.Y.A.grants, providing of course, that no one previously employed was replaced by an N.Y.A. worker.


The chief objections to N.Y.A. have been:

1) That political strings will be attached. But on the contrary, not the Government officials but the College officials administer the plan and select both the students and the jobs. The N.Y.A. provides the funds, stipulating only that the work done shall be of a useful and semi-public nature (i.e. not working for some private business corporation) and that the jobs done shall not result in the discharge of anyone at present employed.

2) That N.Y.A. doesn't pay enough. But the amount that can be earned often means the difference between staying and being forced leave college. As the Student Council well knows from the desperate requests for sums of $30.00 or less on the eve of each term bill, the opportunity to earn $15 a month in useful and instructive work would be a god-send to many undergraduates. Furthermore, the N.Y.A. aid can be used to supplement T.S.E. and the present Student Employment program. Thus a student who is now employed but finds it very difficult to make both ends to meet, would be enabled to stay in college without incurring uncomfortable financial obligations with friends or relatives

Not Difficult to Administer

3) Another objection often made is that N.Y.A. would be too difficult to administer. First of all the administrative duties are simple, mostly assigning work projects, keeping time slips and a monthly payroll. Mr. Sharpe, former director of Student Employment said in his report of 1935 that there would be few difficulties in administering such a program.

Since the N.Y.A. jobs would be much like those of T.S.E., both could probably be administered by the same office, a procedure followed by most colleges. It is possible that the University might have to hire an additional person to administer the N.Y.A. work-program, but we feel that the long-run benefits of the program, would out-weigh such a cost.

Furthermore, it is possible that the administrators of the N.Y.A. program could be students or graduate students paid by N.Y.A. funds. This was done at Tufts College. In this case there would be no expense at all for the college, as these men would do the main body of the work under the College official appointed to supervise the program, and such supervision should not be difficult.

4) Still another objection is that the College officials would have to perjure themselves by swearing that without N.Y.A.aid the students would be forced to leave college. That objection is no longer valid. N.Y.A. Form 304 (Application blank) merely requires that the University, the parent, and the applicant certify that "the work provided through the n.Y.A. is essential to enable the applicant to continue properly his education," And this is certainly a flexible and pleasantly vague statement.

5) Another objection, made less frequently now, is that N.Y.A. (originally the F.E.R.A.) is merely an emergency prospect of doubtful permanence. But N.Y.A. has been supported by both political parties, and has now been placed under the Federal Security Agency. There seems to be every indication that the N.Y.A. student work is here to stay.


Part II presents an analysis of how N.Y.A. would work at Harvard.

Since the mechanics of N.Y.A. administration are to be determined by the College and since the methods of application vary from institution, it is impossible to state exactly what the Work Program would consist of at Harvard. However, using the experiences of other colleges as a standard of judgement, it is possible to predict a composite picture of N.Y.A. in the Yard.

All jobs would be classed under two general headings, college work and graduate work. The former, since it is relatively unskilled, is rewarded with a lower minimum, maximum, and average wage than the latter, both per hour anl per month. A student in the College would earn something over $13 a month on the average at from $30 to $50 an hour.

The graduate student, with his higher theoretical marginal efficiency, would receive an average of $21 a month, although it is possible for him to make up to $30 in certain types of skilled, specialized jobs such as assisting in laboratories.

No student can receive less than $10 a month. Fewer graduates than undergraduates can be employed under the N.Y.A., however, because of a provision in the grant to the University stating that the average wage per student working in the University, shall be $15 a month or $135 a year. The University can receive up to $80,000 in a year from the Youth Administration, and about 600 students would get a chance to work under the plan.

Vocational Jobs Preferred

From its birth, the Youth Administration has attempted to provide jobs for young people which will help them when they leave the shelter of the program and get jobs on their own. However, in a college where vocational training is emphasized and where opportunities for jobs which teach business are few, this plan must often be discarded, and students have to accept jobs which will not help them after graduation.

As far as possible, though, jobs for Harvard students would lie along the vocation lines to be chosen by the student. For instance, graduate students would be practically certain to do white collar or research work. A graduate in the sciences might be paid for assisting professors in the laboratories. A Business School student would be given a job in an office.

It might only consist of secretarial work, but it would teach him the ground work of office life. Since the University is forbidden by the terms of the grant to replace a regular worker with an N.Y.A. student, a great deal of work which has been abandoned since the Depression because of the limitation of the budget might be started up again using student workers. Other possible uses for graduate students are increasing the efficiency of Widener and grading bluebooks. Art work and hospital work are recommended by the Youth Administration.

Commuters Benefit

For the undergraduate the plan becomes less simple. First there is the problem of the commuter. Barred from doing work which is rewarded by pay-in-kind such as waiting in Square restaurants in exchange for meals, and ineligible for T.S.E. the Commuter has long been a sore spot in the College work program. All sorts of construction, repair, and maintenance work around the University are open to him under N.Y.A.

If there are not enough jobs of these sorts, it might even be possible to use N.Y.A. funds to pay students for work for the Cambridge City Government as a last resort. Such jobs as ticket taking, grounds keeping, and watching parking lots are recommended.

The only types of work on which the N.Y.A. actually puts its foot down are janitorial jobs, as it is felt that college students should aim high. The use of N.Y.A. funds to pay students for guarding the football team during its secret practices would also be frowned on.

Resident Also Helped

The resident student will perhaps receive not so much benefit from the N.Y.A. as the Commuter except indirectly. However, a fairly good chunk of the appropriation should be left over for the Houses and the Union when Dudley is taken care of. Library work, preparation of museum and library exhibits, and art work are all possible uses for the funds.

Another important field is social service work, which is now carried on on a purely voluntary basis at Harvard. At several colleges the institutions which correspond to Phillips Brooks House have been enabled to pay any volunteers who fall inside the N.Y.A. qualifications.

Typical Student

Let us examine the case of a typical student at Harvard to see what the effect of N.Y.A. on the individual will be. Supposing that N.Y.A. were to be taken up by the University, let us say that Eli Harvard '44 decides next fall that he is eligible for a job under the program. Eli is the recipient of a $200 scholarship and he holds down a $200 T.S.E. job in his House library.

A Group III man, he decides that he can handle another job for some extra money, not necessarily to pay his term bill entirely, but also to go home at Christmas time or to buy much-needed new clothes. (The N.Y.A. considers either of these purposes as contributing to a "proper" education, and the program is carried on for the express purpose of permitting students to "continue properly their education.")

Eli goes to the Student Help office and is given an application which, in its form, much resembles the ordinary Harvard College scholarship application, except that on the back of it he must certify his United States citizenship. After a certain amount of formal red tape has been untangled, Eli is given a job, working 26 hours a month at $50 an hour, mimeographing Psychology outlines in Emerson Hall. His $13 a month will not net hem more than $100 a year. It may be that his T.S.E. job will be cut to a certain extent, let us say $50. He will then make a net increase of income of $50.

That amount can be considered as the marginal fund which makes his year a success instead of a drudgery. If Eli is a commuter instead of a House member, for instance, the extra money may enable him to join Dudley Hall, (where he can meet fellow students and relax) instead of having to eat his lunch out of a paper bag in Boylston Reading Room. All concerned will benefit.


98% of the colleges and universities in the country have N.Y.A. student work programs. Included are Yale, Princeton, Radcliffe, M.I.T., Dartmouth Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Brown, etc. It is unfair that students attending Harvard should not receive similar opportunities to earn an education.

Furthermore, it would be far better in its relations with the public for Harvard to join the others in applying for N.Y.A. aid, than to remain aloof and possibly be considered plutocratic.

Other Solutions Unsatisfactory

Other solutions for Harvard students' financial problems have been suggested.

1) Student waiting in the Houses. But this would result in the discharge of many waitresses. And if students can get better and more helpful jobs through N.Y.A., why should they be forced to wait on tables?

2) Special loans and grants to students. But neither the College nor the Student Council has sufficient funds. The Student Council is rarely able to satisfy more than 65% of the requests for its scholarships, and College scholarships and loans are never equal to the demand.

In conclusion the Student Council Committee believes the N.Y.A. Student Work Program to be the solvent of many of the difficulties of the students at Harvard University. We earnestly hope that the authorities of the University will give the plan their most favorable consideration.

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