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The University's decision to start closing all its temporary homes for married veterans reemphasizes the whole problem of housing married students. On one hand, veterans' groups claim that many families will literally be left in the cold, while on the other, students point out that the University never has satisfactorily solved the housing problem for non-veteran students' families.
Under the decision, veterans must withdraw from the temporary prefabricated units and three cooperative homes by fall, 1951. University officials state that the veteran population is fast decreasing, so that there should be no great need for housing at that time. They add that the houses, transported from Oregen at war's end, are now in poor condition and require heavy maintenance fees.
This move may well have been premature. While the married veteran population is indeed growing smaller, there is still a need for homes. Waiting lists for the prefabricated units remain crowded, and the American Veterans Committee reports that there are approximately a thousand families now living outside Cambridge; many of these would live closer if they could.
In maintaining the units, the University has suffered an overall financial loss. But there is certainly an obligation to veterans involved: they came here with the understanding that every effort would be made to give them housing. To cut back such housing when there is still a demand is unfair. Under law, these temporary homes must be removed by 1954; until then, or until demand actually disappears, the University should maintain all the houses it can, regardless of un-Georgian appearance or costs of maintenance.
Although the University has always felt an obligation to provide veteran housing, it does not feel it has any like commitment to non-veteran married students. And the number of married students has not substantially decreased since the war: in some graduate schools there has actually been an increase. These families are not eligible for temporary housing, and, under law, veterans get preference in all other cases. The several University-operated permanent developments are not much help, since rents there are usually as high as those in private establishments.
While planning for veterans, officials should reconsider their policy regarding non-vet student families. There will always be a sizable number of married men here, and long-range housing plans should take them into consideration, as well as providing single graduate students with dormitory rooms at reasonable prices. The University officials say they do not want to go into the housing business, nor expend already short funds. But it would be poor policy to discriminate against students in future housing plans merely because they are married.
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