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Two Birds With One Stone


In unanimously recommending that a Student Activities Center be built as a memorial to the Harvard dead of the Second World War, the Student Council has simultaneously advanced solutions for two prime University needs: an appropriate war memorial and a home for extra-curricular activities. A war memorial will be erected, and since ornate Gothic piles and lush statuary are no longer held in good repute, a living, functioning testimonial must be found. Nothing could more closely match the description than a structure dedicated to the advancement of the arts, publications, and discussion. In the years ahead, Harvard men using the proposed Activities Center would be propagating those very ideals for which the War was fought.

An activities center of the type so successfully employed at other institutions is sorely needed at Harvard. The fact that close to 75 percent of the men in the College take no part in extra-curricular activities may in large part be attributed to the lack of facilities and encouragement coming from the University. The next decade will see no repetition of the extravagant 1920's when privately constructed organization buildings sprang up like dandelions: present facilities will have to do unless the University acts for all groups. Unfortunately, present facilities are at best meagre. Six organizations, including the Freshman and Senior yearbooks, lack space and equipment with which to efficiently conduct their activities. At least eight other groups, among them the Band, Orchestra, and Glee Club, need desk and filing space as well as the assurance that a room will always be available for their meetings. Phillips Brooks House, which has been serving as a makeshift meeting center, is badly overcrowded, and the post-war resumption of many activities will make the search for room even more difficult.

To solve these problems, the structure envisioned by the Council would be administered by the heads of the legitimate organizations and would contain offices equipped with typewriters, telephones, and mimeograph machines. The central feature of the building--a theatre seating approximately 1000--could be used for films, plays, forums and similar functions. Music and dramatics, long relegated to musty, out-of-the-way auditoriums, would at last be heard and viewed at best advantage. Stress must be laid upon the fact that the building would serve graduate students as well as undergraduates; the Law School Forum and many organizations such as the Philosophy Club, Economics Club, and English Club which are largely made up of graduate students, could have space and equipment assigned to them in the Center. While the site of the proposed Memorial has not been chosen, it is assumed that it would be convenient to the majority of students.

One possible feature of the Center, rejected by the Council but deserving of further discussion, would be the inclusion of a lounge suitable for entertaining guests throughout the evening. An attractively furnished room containing a refreshment counter would add greatly to the building's popularity without in any way encroaching upon the social domain of the Houses. Little more can be said about the Council's recommendation: the proposed Center speaks for itself. As a memorial, it would be highly fitting in an age devoted to positive work and play; and as a badly needed addition to the University, it would complement Harvard's academic and social facilities and fill a gaping void.

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