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Sockets and Philosophy

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

The Tenth House Committee has shown encouraging initiative in requesting student suggestions on anything "from the placement of electric sockets to profound philosophical matters." The Tenth House is drastically needed to case overcrowding in the other nine Houses. Careful planning by the Committee can assure that the House will not only serve its "dormitory functions," but will also include the best features of Harvard's relatively successful House system. With careful planning, in fact, the Tenth House can improve on the few good Houses in the Present system.

Above all, the Tenth House should be built to ease crowding in the other Houses, and not to expand the College. Most Masters agree that a House should accommodate no more than 350 students. Above that number, a House becomes cavernous and impersonal; below it, a House may face unmanageable administrative costs. The Tenth House Committee should aim for a maximum as close to this "ideal" as financial pressures permit. If the Tenth House is designed solely to minimize crowding in the old Houses, the present student overflow would completely fill it, leaving no room for expansion.

In making additional plans for the Tenth House, the Administration should also remember that nothing has more impact on the success of a House than its Master. The President should begin the selection of the Tenth House Master immediately. Once chosen, the new Master should be allowed to help model his House after his own tastes and to fit his personality.

Finally the Tenth House should incorporate the following features, all of which are minimum structural steps toward making a House which would, in President Lowell's words, "supplement and enhance formal instruction" in the College:

* Single rooms for every student, to achieve the minimum privacy a college student requires. The rooms should be built around common living rooms, in units similar to new Quincy's quads. Unlike Quincy, however, the room arrangement should allow a maximum flexibility, so that living units can accommodate roommate groups of from two to eight students.

* A design facilitating maximum contact among roommate groups. The choice between vertical entries and corridors will depend on whether or not the House is high-rise. Corridors are preferable in that they expose students to a large number of people.

* Room units with fireplace, refrigerators, and adequate closet and shelf space, at the minimum. Walls should not be made of cinderblock.

* More suites for married tutors than the Houses currently provide. Adequate accommodations like the suites on top of Leverett Towers should be set aside for resident artists.

* An independent dining hall, of course. Steam tables and the serving line should be outside the dining room itself, since lines inside the hall crowd the room and look ugly. There should be two small dining rooms, both to satisfy the apparently large demand for small rooms in the present Houses, and to encourage special eating groups and small House organizations. There should be a House grill with enough space to allow for tables and midnight chatter.

* Two junior common rooms, not one as in most of the old Houses. One should be the traditional combination of magazine-rack and lounge. The other should be suitable for House plays, concerts, lectures, readings, and seminars. The House should contain at least one seminar room and more practice rooms than most Houses now offer.

* Free basement space which can be converted into activity rooms--work-shops, dark rooms or pool rooms--as student interests suggest.

The specific problems of aesthetics and architectural style are inscrutable. Style will depend on location and the architect. Above all, however, the University should hire an individualistic architect, one who will avoid the common-place, impersonal tones of Quincy. No matter what its style, the Tenth House should be unique enough to suggest an image, to create a personality. Architecture alone cannot create the nirvana of Lowell's "community," but its importance is undeniable.

A second editorial, on the failures of the present House system, will appear in tomorrow's CRIMSON.

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