When asked for "Suggestions Please!" on the proposed remodelling of the Radcliffe quadrangle, 'Cliffies answer with long architectural dissertations, violent disputes, whimsical metaphors and an occasional obscenity. So far 44 girls have scrawled something in the looseleaf notebook laid out for comments in Agassiz basement.
"Too damn much concrete!" roared one girl, and everyone following her took up the complaint. The plans call for large areas of pavement among the modern buildings along Garden Street, now an avenue of grass and off-campus houses.
It will be a "wilderness of concrete and asphalt," said another girl. "The different levels of sidewalk look like a miniature golf course," declared a third. "We like flowers," said one little girl, who added that the flower areas should not be formal but rather "like the Secret Garden" in Radcliffe Yard.
Another item of consensus was hatred of the proposed common building between Eliot and Bertram, which would jut out into the quadrangle. "Intrusive and unnecessary," was one verdict, and there was no one to speak for it. "I hate the Commons building," one girl said simply.
A spirited controversy arose over the issue of modern buildings in general. "Why do you think Radcliffe students prefer new, concrete, linoleum, whitewashed, glassy housing to warm old houses?" one senior asked. On the next page came a sophomore's answer, "Concrete and glass is preferable to drab miserable old off-campus houses." "124 Walker Street is the most livable place at Radcliffe," piped up a third girl. One girl suggested buying more old houses to preserve Radcliffe's "variety and fragmentation" instead of building new dormitories, but everyone else seemed at least satisfied with the idea of new buildings.
Several minority interests were represented, as individuals lobbied for elevators, taller and fewer buildings, a moat or pond. "Preserve the Gingko Tree!" cried one girl. The tree, at the corner of Walker and Shepherd Streets, is in no danger. "Don't destroy the volleyball court!" she also pleaded. The court is doomed.
One comment on the two room suite agreed upon by nearly every girl was the need to keep rooms and furniture as versatile as possible. Some thought nothing should be built in, others demanded walls that were nail-able and tape-able. Many suggested movable furniture and room shapes adaptable to many different arrangements. "The chief trouble with the new dorms (North House) is that they're too closely planned. They're like Walden Two," wrote one girl.
"Hooray for recognizing the stifling boredom of four unbroken walls!" exclaimed one girl in approving the complicated and angular room shape. Whereupon another girl wrote. "I'm beginning to feel like a mouse in a maze and I've only been here two minutes. What we need is space--not imaginative obstructions!"
Sink and Social Life
The tiny hallway between two single rooms with space for a sink mystified some girls. "What the hell is that thing in the hall?" some asked. "Why the sink?" others asked. One girl referred perplexedly to the "mysterious interconnecting hall-with-hole." Two girls complained that it would cut down the social life in the bathrooms. At present, 25 girls share a large bathroom in the brick dorms. Only one person thought the sink "terrific!"
Nearly every girl asked for more bookcases. The one bookcase in the model (with a pathetic handful of books) was "too small for anyone but a freshman," someone said. "If the College realized the number of brick, cinder block and board bookcases now in existence in the quad they would take pity on the construction companies," said someone else. "A wall full," was one suggestion. One senior with tiny handwriting very neatly sketched her plan for combination bookcase and cabinet, and combination closet, cabinet and drawers.
The people who objected to the standard grey chairs did so with great gusto. "Any color but grey!" wrote one girl. "The room is like a monk's cell," said another girl, reacting apparently to the rather crude and unfinished appearance of the room.
Some of the improvements petitioned for were a larger and lower desk ("this one is too high to type comfortably"), a pull-out shelf for a typewriter, doors for the closet, a low bureau, doors between the two single rooms, a pegboard wall, more lighting, no fluorescent lights, shelves over the desk, and molding from which to hang pictures. A few girls suggested that instead of two large bedrooms there be two small bedrooms and a large living room, but most people did not comment on the room set-up.
Two girls indicated that they weren't sure of the spelling of certain words. The average comment was half a page long. Many comments were written exclamatorily, with dashes as their only punctuation, using many underlined words, or exclamation marks.
One senior suggested a long list of small improvements, but then added, with dignified pathos, "But there are some of us who will always prefer off-campus houses and old dorms to the new."