The College is still frantically seeking a solution to this year's overcrowding in the Houses--a problem that will probably only get worse next year.
As of yesterday, according to Dean Watson, there were only 16 vacancies in the Houses, but 29 floaters--students who lived in the College last year--and 25 students returning from leaves of absences who were unassigned to rooms. With few exceptions only the floaters, will be able to be absorbed into the Houses, Watson continued.
"We really never have been in this situation before," Watson said. "Never before have there been people floating at this time of the year who had lived in the College the year before." And for the first time, Watson continued, the Masters have been forced to tell returnees that there is no room in the House and that their only alternative is to live off-campus.
The returnees are feeling the brunt of the overcrowding problem because priority has been given to floaters in room assignments. In the past, however, most of the returnees could be absorbed in spite of this restriction.
Houses Must Convert
To find room even for the floaters the Houses will be forced to make room conversions--turn triples into quads Lowell House has already made three such conversions and Watson feels that all eight of the Houses will have to make two or three each to accomodate the overflow.
Kirkland House has no vacancies and six floaters. If it has to convert it will stop a three year plan of de-conversion in which the Master was allowed to cut the capacity of the House by 15 places a year in an attempt to alleviate the crowding in the House. Eliot House has nine floaters and only four vacancies, and Dunster House has six floaters and two vacancies. Adams, Quincy and Winthrop Houses have not had the problems of the other Houses.
But the Houses had already used other techniques to cut the overflow down to its present level. Last week there were 62 vacancies in the Houses, 87 floaters, and 48 returnees. To deal with this situation Dean Watson removed the quota on off-campus living and allowed the Masters to give permission to live off campus to those juniors and seniors who wished to do so. In some Houses, such as Adams, the quota of 28 set last May by Dean Watson was exceeded, in others it was not. The vacancies created were filled by floaters. If there were any left over--there were five vacancies in Adams House on Monday--they were filled by swapping students from other Houses. Yesterday, one student from Eliot House and one from Leverett were taken into Adams.
These solutions, swapping, and forcing people to live off-campus, are all emergency measures, Watson said.
Watson was very pessimistic about the future of the housing problem. It probably won't get better, he said, until the completion of the Tenth House.
The source of the overcrowding is the draft. While in the past Watson was able to estimate accurately that about 75-80 people would leave after June exams as a result of Administrative Board decisions, this year there were only 30. Usually, about 70 other people chose to withdraw from the College over the summer, but this year there were only a handful.
While this year the burden of the problem has been felt by the returnees, next year it will probably be felt by floaters, who in the past, if not for the draft, would be taking leaves of absences.
Watson said that in dealing with the present situation, he and the Faculty Committee on Housing have not yet had time to consider next year