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Peabody Tenants Fight Rent Rise


More than 50 Peabody Terrace residents marched in a non-obstructive picket line around Massachusetts Hall yesterday to protest the implementation of rent hikes planned for the fall.

One of the leader of the Peabody group handed a portfolio, containing the tenants' side of the dispute and addressed to President Pusey, to an unidentified official at the door of the building.

The man who presented the material to the official--Arthur E. Yama, one of Peabody group's co-chairmen and a student at the Design School-said he hopes the Corporation will reconsider the rent hikes at its meeting Monday.

The tenants resubmitted a petition calling for a one-year moratorium on all rent increases pending "a full reconsideration and discussion of the issues involved." Representatives of 422 families--about 85 per cent of the Peabody tenants--signed the petition, which was first presented on the April 29.

Harvard says it is raising the rents, on an average of $20, per month for each apartment, in order to conform to its policy of operating all married student housing on a "break-even" basis. This is the first rent increase since Peabody Terrace was opened six years ago.

Tenants dispute Harvard's claim that the housing unit is now running on a deficit. They also contend that, if the Peabody Terrace is operating in the red, it is due to Harvard's misjudgment in financing its construction with private instead of Federal loans, which have lower interest rates.

Peabody residents say they also resent the Administration's handling of their requests for a reconsideration of the hike. They stated that President Pusey and Corporation members have ignored their arguments. L. Card Wiggins, administrative vice-president of the University, is handling the dispute for the Administration.

Arthur a. Klein, another co-chairman and a graduate student in English, said yesterday, "Taking about the problem now is not enough because the talk is not substantive since the decision has already been closed."

Wiggins stated that it was decided in March that "the rents must be increased because the results of investigations of the operating costs show that Peabody Terace is not breaking even."

Wiggins added, "The Corporation discussed the entire matter at its last meeting and decided the increases were fully justified." He said, "The Administration is fully aware of the considerable resentment the increases have caused, as the march indicates."

The tenants say they are disturbed by the timing of the decision to raise rents because they will not now be able to obtain increased financial aid to compensate for the hikes. Wiggins said that this was incorrect and that students might reapply for increased aid.

Klein said that, although the students might go through the motions of applying for more aid, they would not be able to get it. He explained that in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences financial aid is distributed by the individual departments, which have already allotted all the funds at their disposal.

Reginald H. Phelps, chairman of the GSAS's Committee for Financial Aid, was unavailable for comment last night

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