It was apparently not until 1933, when James Bryant Conant became its president, that the University recognized the existence of the Western United States. Then Harvard seemed suddenly to realize that a vast, intellectually unexplored territory existed beyond the Connecticut. This new emphasis was crystallized with the inauguration of the National Scholarship plan. All of the students who benefited by this program came from Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and points west. In the course of time these scholarships, because of their large stipends, became the most desirable awards in the college. Thus the eastern part of the nation tended to be disregarded as the West received more and more of these academic plums, although actually the amounts offered to the Atlantic seaboard did not decrease.
But with the announcement that the full-expense scholarships will be given to Massachusetts students next year, New England is, making a comeback in round three. The original reason for limiting the scholarships to the West was to make Harvard a national rather than a local institution. That aim has been accomplished at the expense of New England. The new policy is an attempt to restore the balance between East and West.
Coincident with this development another move of perhaps even greater importance to Greater Boston students was announced. All Freshman commuters, including the non-resident scholars, the new type of National Scholars, will be offered study halls in the dormitories and noon meals at reduced rates in the Union. In addition, those commuters will be able to eat and study in the Houses as well-all of which shows further the increased concern of the College in local students.
The advantage of this second aspect of the program are many. Commuters will be given a base of operations for activities throughout the day and evening. They will be able to eat with their resident classmates in the Union and the Houses, and thus enlarge their range of acquaintances. They will be given increased prestige in the eyes of their fellow students. In sum, they will be brought into closer contact with college life in general, with sports and extra-curricular activities as well as academic studies.
Naturally, the scheme has its limitations. The room and food rates will probably be excessive for many commuters, and this will tend to limit the number of beneficiaries. Furthermore, although many of the Yardling commuters will be helped, relatively few non-resident upperclassmen will ever be affected.
Both the extension of National Scholarships to Massachusetts and the proposal of study rooms, nevertheless, constitute a Godsend for the commuter. Eventually, it is to be hoped, more New England students will be given National Scholarships and more non-resident upperclassmen will obtain House privileges. Eventually also the balance between local students and students from other regions must be adjusted; then Harvard's scholarship plan will be truly national.