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Anyone who has observed the daily mixer without music in Widener's reading room will agree that the University badly needs a place for Harvard and Radcliffe students to meet informally. In most universities, students can gather in a union or activities center. Harvard students are condemned to meet in Widener, the unattractive and expensive cafeterias in the Square, and the inconvenient Agassiz living room.
The HCUA's decision to work for the establishment of a student union at Harvard is a good step towards helping the situation.
A union would provide 'Cliffies with a place to relax between classes. It would lessen the social pressure on Widener, leaving the library to those who want to study. And such a meeting place might ease social tensions and uncertainties between Harvard and Radcliffe.
The union need not be a grand or expensive place. It would be nice to have bowling alleys, modern lounges and other refinements that grace unions at other campuses, but these are not essential. An attractive snack bar and coffee room, some rooms for study, a few common rooms--perhaps with television, a browsing shelf, and a games area--would be a good nucleus. A book exchange, helpful to many, could also operate in the union.
To serve its purpose, the union must be centrally located. The Freshman Union building while not perfect, is an attractive possibility. The second and third floors have sufficient space, and with some renovation they could be made quite pleasaant. Snack bar profits could pay for part of the renovation, but the University could appropriately meet most of the expenses with money from the Fund for Harvard College.
The argument that freshmen would be deprived of their Union and would therefore suffer is not convincing. Freshmen would still have the main floor and the cavernous dining hall exclusively to themselves, in addition to their common rooms in the Yard. And the Yardlings might even enjoy and profit from meeting upperclassmen.
There are other locations for the Council committee to explore. The current activities center, 52 Dunster Street, where many students normally spend time for business purposes, or the new addition to Holyoke Center, in which an area could be specially designed for a union, are possibilities.
Whatever building is finally chosen, the University should support the project. Dating is expensive in Cambridge, and most Harvard students would welcome the chance to associate with girls in a natural and freewheeling context. Social life at the University today is too often restricted and artificial.
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