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The Harvard housing situation in College dorms has reached "crisis" proportion, the Housing office admitted yesterday.
Scattered throughout the nine upperclass houses, 154 students were still "floating" without rooms as of last Wednesday, and dozens of others found their improvised living quarters hardly better than nothing.
Dunster House, perhaps hardest hit by the housing squeeze, reported a "barracks" type situation last week which was partially solved over the weekend by converting the women's lavatory into temporary dorms with six bunkbeds.
A student arriving at the Winthrop House office last week was reportedly told to "come back in a few days." And in Eliot House a luckless sophomore spent his entire first week moving from room to room until generous friends took him in yesterday.
Housing Office Optimistic
What to do with the extra students is still undecided, although the housing office remains optimistic that the problem can be solved in a week.
In addition to 114 returning floaters, 20 transfer students have been given only temporary assignments and 20 other students returning after leaves of absence have not gotten rooms.
House reported 83 available spaces under their assigned quotas, but filling these vacancies still leaves 71 students without rooms. The COH decided last week to give first priority to students enrolled last year, then to transfer students, and finally to students returning after a leave of absence.
Trying to cope with the room shortage, the Committee on Houses held an emergency meeting last Wednesday.
At the meeting, Dean Watson blamed the overcrowding on serveral factors:
the late completion of Mather House, which left 135 sophomores to be put up elsewhere:
the admission of 45 transfer students for whom Dean Watson's office had only set aside 16 spaces:
a smaller than expected number of students were dismissed from the University last year- 26 fewer than the housing office had counted on;
fewer students wanted to live off campus (185 vs. 205 last year);
a smaller-than-usual 1969 graduating class, leaving 40 spaces still filled;
"special deconversion" -individual instances in which extra people had to be taken out of suites, incurring a loss of 45 spaces.
Completing the Administration's problem, John D. Hanify 71, president of the Harvard Undergraduate Council, asked the emergency meeting to postpone this year's $60 board increase to compensate students for their inconvenience.
To alleviate part of the overcrowding, two graduate school dormitories-Conant and Perkins Halls- may take 24 students until Mather House opens next term.
But the bulk of overflow may go off campus. Traditionally tight off-campus quotas have been extended in almost all houses and Watson has consented to allow some "extra sophomores" to move off also.
Last night, however, Alan E. Heimert, Master of Eliot House, expressed the hope that the problem could be solved without kicking students out of their houses.
"I think it's going to be licked; it's not as freaky a problem as the numbers originally indicated. But we have a moral obligation to the city of Cambridge not to send these people out searching for apartments, and we have to find them places even if we have to hire hotel rooms."
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