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Stacked up against other eastern college's efforts to solve what is many an administration's number one headache--housing--the University's moves over the past year have come off strikingly well.
From the time the Straus Hall housing office was set up in February this year to the announcement of the projected lease of an area at Fort Devens two weeks ago, the University has moved steadily, if not always quickly, towards an alleviation, there being no single solution, of the problem created by the un looked for influx of veterans, graduate and undergraduate, married and single, at the beginning of the fall term in September.
For the married veterans, whose numbers have been a source of amazement to educators all over the country, the University acted slowly at first, contenting itself with trying to connect couples with existing apartments and rooms in the Cambridge area. But, at the beginning of the spring term in February, when it became obvious that these measures were not enough, the Straus Hall office, aided and abetted by top administrative men, ground into something approaching high gear.
Two Immediate Stops
Two steps were taken immediately. First, orders were placed with the Government for 198 FPHA single-family units. These low-cost developments were aimed principally at the familied veteran, and have been rented only to couples with children (highest priorities going to the pair with the most offspring) since the first 60 units opened on the Jarvis Field April 22. At present all but 72 of these apartments are occupied.
Secondly, to assuage the immediate press, the Straus Hall office intensified and extended their search for apartments in the areas surrounding Cambridge. But although this canvassing turned up a number of places, it soon appeared that the College-going veteran was not overly enthusiastic about taking trolleys and busses to meet his 9 o'clock classes and was unsure of the geography of locations out of sight of the Square. Few of the opportunities made available by this search were snapped up.
By way of dealing with this housing problem on a permanent basis, plans were laid by the University involving the construction of a full-scale housing development of such sites as the Observatory and in the Botanical Gardens. After this idea had been juggled around between the University and the City of Cambridge, which had zoning laws on the properties concerned, the project was dropped--ostensibly so the University could formulate new and better plans.
But the University was not stalled. A few weeks later Edward Reynolds '15, newly-appointed administrative vice-president, announced that negotiations with several Boston hotels were under way, and that rooms, rented at rates comparable with those prevailing in the Houses, would be available to veterans with or without wives in the fall. First, and so far the only such hotels to be landed was the Brunswick.
The climax to the University's drive came on May 24, when the Fort Devens deal was announced. By renting the land and reconverting existing structures built by the Army, it was hoped that upwards of 800 families could comfortably be taken care of at this so-called Harvard colony. Train service to and from the Devens-Ayer area was reported to be excellent, and arrangements to increase the service were made should the burden of student commuters prove too heavy. The availability of shopping centers, hospitals, and recreation facilities were all cited as advantages to this, the University's most ambitious undertaking in the field of housing.
Meanwhile, housing for the single student was not giving anybody sleepless nights. This attitude finds considerable justification in the fact that $3,000,000 dorms cannot be built over night, so structures already in use had to provide whatever solution was to be found; single students were felt to be more pliable than those with wives and children to fit into their plans of living.
Cramming was the only way out, and although this term's enrollment has not distended the House system and Yard halls noticeably, the estimates on next fall's registration, which reach up to 5800, have elicited from University Hall the frank admission that things are going to be crowded and unpleasant for most undergraduates next fall. Fifty per cent has been added to the normal capacity figures for all Houses, and an extra man or men in every room has become the rule.
Quonset Huts at Yale
Quonset huts, which the University has so far managed to avoid in favor of the more satisfactory FPHA units, will bear the burden of Yale's load of married students. An even 100 of these huts, housing 200 families, will reportedly be ready for occupancy at the end of their current term, while such space as that in Ray Tompkins House of the Yale A. A. normally used to house visiting athletic teams, is slated to be utilized in the emergency, by single students, for whom Yale is also attempting to obtain Army barracks.
Like Harvard, Dartmouth has been expending most of its efforts on getting the married students a place to live; two developments are presently under way in Hanover. One, known as Sachem Village, is a permanent project, comprising 48 double family houses, while the other; called Wigwam Circle, consists of FPHA units brought from defense plant areas and set up in a circle of 104.
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