Education ranks third in importance as a problem to be met by the students of the University if one is to make a judgment solely on the audible clamor raised by the students themselves. Housing and prices continue to be the chief worry-makers among the candidates for Harvard degrees.
Where to live is the question that will overshadow all others, especially for the first weeks of this record-smashing term, but the Housemasters and the higher officers in the Faculty fix their limits, not on the availability of mere shelter but on the extent to which the inevitable crowding will affect the intangibles considered important adjuncts to ordinary classroom work.
House Atmosphere Disturbed
In the Houses particularly, the opportunity for casual discussions at meal times with tutors or friends, characteristic of the College's normal leisurely pace, is one consideration that limits "doubling up." The length of time it takes for all the occupants of a suite to perform their morning ablutions and thence to classes is another.
The paradox of the admissions situation, at the crux of the housing problem, has been compared by one of the harassed University officials involved to a five o'clock bus: everyone crowds to get on and complains if he fails, but if he succeeds he screams that his toes are being stepped on.
But the single undergraduate, representing 90 percent of the College and more than 40 percent of the University, will be a relatively carefree soul--after he is moved from his public berth in the Indoor Athletic Building, after he is told that he doesn't have to commute if he doesn't want to, and even though he may have to sweat out a breakfast chow line.
Graduate School Problem Serious
Graduate student housing, ordinarily a minor matter adequately covered by Conant and Perkins Halls, apartments owned by the Harvard Housing Trust, and other privately-owned apartments, has at times during the last twelve months loomed as an insurmountable problem.
In seeking adequate living space for the expected 3300 married students, some 27 percent of the total, the Housing Office has aimed at better than the minimum. The University would not, for instance, have considered its problem solved if it had been able to obtain 3000 trailers.
The standards laid down by these officials for themselves are far enough off the rock bottom so that when they admit that out of a total of 2500 active housing applications, some 900 remain unfilled, it does not mean that wives and children are having to sleep on benches in the Common.
Families "Make Do" Temporarily
While families wait for better accommodations, most of them have some sort of room--perhaps without cooking facilities or somewhat cramped--which would be classified as "marginal" or substandard.
As in the case of the single students bunking in the Indoor Athletic Building until the expected "shrinkage" in room reservations becomes evident, the University is arranging for temporary hotel accommodations for couples in search of permanent quarters.
The 450-plus applications that the Housing Office has already satisfied since last January by locating married students in the Cambridge area include almost 200 housekeeping units brought down from temporary settlements in Maine for shipyard workers and set up on the Jarvis and Divinity tennis court grounds and next to the Business School.
Another 115 couples without children will make their homes, sans kitchen, in the Hotel Brunswick in Boston and take their breakfasts and suppers nearby for $1.25 per day. Rent is at $65 a month compared to $30 to $35 for the less luxurious FPHA fiberboard houses.
When negotiations for conversion of the Lovell Hospital buildings at Fort Devens turned out successfully last spring with 400 units assured and as many more in sight, the climax in the University's search for housing was reached.
While full development of the community is being left to its future inhabitants, arrangements are being made with the Boston and Maine Railroad for special cars on fast commuters trains and special fares in order to keep expenses within reason and to keep travelling time for the 30 miles down to about an hour
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