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Harvard Housing: Playing the 'Numbers Game'

Where to Put the Bodies?

By Merrick Garland

LAST YEAR PEOPLE who worried about where Harvard Radcliffe students should live white at Harvard Radcliffe called their plans A B and C. Today they're arguing over a new set of plans called 1,2, and 3 (plus 4). Yet, while the transition from letters to numbers occured only this year. It's really always been a numbers game: How and where to house the 300-500 extra students that will attend Harvard by 1976. Now the game has one more player a mysterious donor whose identity has not yet been revealed to those outside the inner sanctum.

The initial flurry of plan-making was set off Last year by President Bok's decision to lower the male female ratio in the College to 2.5 to 1 over four years, with only a minor decrease in the number of males admitted. That decision meant that theoretically the number of males would decrease from 1200 to 1125 per class, and that the number of females would increase from in 300 to 450 per class. Thus, there would be a net increase of 75 bodies per year, or 300 over four years. Contrary to theory however, the current freshman class includes 11.5 males rather than 1125, a figure that if continued could result in 500 rather than 300 extra bodies over four years.

With this projected increase in students. It is clear that there will soon be just too many bodies to continue with current housing arrangements. The problem was solved this seat by adopting the Committee of Houses and Undergraduate Life's "Plan B." which made the Yard coed and moved approximately 80 upperclassmen and women into the Hotel Continental.

Next year's increase will probably be handled by taking over the rest of the Continental for use by undergraduates. The increase in two years will be dealt with by renovations" that will add 50 extra beds at the Radcliffe Quad and 25 to 50 extra beds in The Harvard ("Renovations" means the partitioning of existing rooms and the installation bunk beds). When three years are up however. Harvard will run out of make-shift possibilities new construction will be a necessity.

Four plans have been devised by various members of the Harvard community to cope with that need. All involve building on University owned property. As a result there is no plan to build a new House near the other Harvard Houses, since the Planning Office has found that sufficient land in not available. All plans will probably require, in addition to their main construction, the building of an addition to Kirkland House in order to accommodate the increase. The four plans are named, appropriately enough. Plans 1,2,3, and 4.

PLAN I INVOLVES the creation of a fourth Radcliffe House by taking over the Graduate Center, located near Radcliffe Yard, and building a major addition to it. The Hotel Continental would then be transferred to graduate student use.

This plan has been largely discarded for two reasons. First, opponents contend that such a House would be too far removed from the other major residential centers, and that its members would feel isolated from the community. Second and more important in terms of the plan's viability. Bernice Cronkite, the woman who raised most of the original funds for the Center, has stated a desire to preserve the building for use by graduate students. While it is not clear that Cronkite has issued a definite "no," hopes for Plan I currently seem dim.

Plan 2 has been the darling of F. Skiddy Von Stade '38, dean of freshmen, for over ten years now. It involves the destruction of Hunt Hall (at the north end of the Yard) and the creation of a new freshmen dormitory capable of housing approximately 200 people. Under plan 2, all freshmen, both male and female, would live in either the Yard or Claverly--none would inhabit the Radcliffe Houses.

Von Stade's plan is supported by those who favor the concept of a separate freshman year, including Burris W. Young. assistant dean of Freshmen and Chase N. Peterson, '52, vice president for Alumni Affairs. The plan is opposed by those who favor the "Radcliffe Way" of intermixing freshmen with upperclassmen.

Plan 3 might best be called the "critical mass plan," or less dramatically, the "fill-in-the Quad Plan. "It involves the construction of "connecting additions" between the dorms of South House as well as an addition to North House.

To prevent the connections from solidly warning off the Quad, they would be interspersed with arcades to allow access between the center area and the outside. This plan developed by the Planning Office under Director Harold Goyette calls for the creation of single student units that can be clustered in a variety of says. The plan attempts to avoid the model of a long central corridor with bathrooms of the end of the hall.

Proponents of Plan 3 subscribe to the "critical mass theory," the argument that the placement of additional buildings and bodies at Radcliffe will balance "the weight" of the Harvard Houses maintain a high level of activity in the Quad area and hence keep the 'Cliffe from becoming an undesirable residential area. Much the same logic motivated the Radcliffe trustees in their efforts to construct Hilles Library on its present site.

The major supporters of Plan 3 include the Matin S. Horner and Vice President Hale Champion. In addition President Bok has told the Radcliffe Masters, and others, that he "leans" toward Plan 3.

THE FINAL PLAN left in contention. Plan 4, represents the ultimate compromise: half of each of Plans 2 and 3. Under Plan 4, connections would be built at the Quad to house 100 extra students, and an approximately 100-person dorm would be built at the site of Hunt Hall. While this plan does not alter the freshman year in any way, it does provide some significant advantages.

First, it would help reduce the large proportion of freshmen currently living at Radcliffe. Forty per cent of Quad residents are now freshmen. Plan 4 would reduce that number to approximately 25 per cent.

Second, it would also help to reduce the number of people per house at the Quad from Plan 3's 450 to a more manageable 400. As a result of these advantages. Plan 4 is beginning to attract support, including that of North House Co-Masters Edward and Juan Keenan and of Dean Whitlock.

The unknown factor in the whole process is the mysterious, unnamed donor who is currently being courted to provide the money for construction. For two reasons the need to include his concerns in the final decision between the various plans may work to the disadvantage of the Radcliffe site proposals.

First, buildings built with donated funds are traditionally named after the donor. The Charles H. Alumni Connecting Addition may not be exactly what he had in mind. Yet, this need not be a major stumbling block, as South House could easily be renamed in his honor.

The primary problem is the fact that the donor is a "Harvard Man" who would prefer to give to "Harvard" (hence. the Hunt Hall site) rather than to "Radcliffe." Whether he could be (or has already been) convinced to change his mind is not yet known (although he has gone on several "walking tours" of Radcliffe, accompanied by President Bok.)

With President Bok "leaning" toward the Radcliffe site proposal, it appears that the only impediment to either Plan 3 (critical mass) or 4 (the compromise) is the donor. At this writing, it appears that one of these two plans will be adopted. A final decision is expected very soon.

It is important, at this point, to set aside the issues of mortar and bricks and to examine both the decision-making process itself and the premises upon which it is based. There are two major problems with the way in which the discussions about building construction have been carried on so far.

First, while the interested parties have been encouraged to separately refine their own proposals, there has been no open forum in which both the opposing sides (Proponents of Plans 2 and 3) have argued the relative merits of their proposals before the decision-makers President Bok and the donor). The Radcliffe Masters have met to consider the Planning Office's design for Plan 3, but discussion has been confined to the problems of that plan rather than the the advantages of that plan over the Hunt Hall proposal.

Student input has followed the same pattern. The Radcliffe House Committees have been asked to submit criticisms of the Radcliffe site proposal, not their opinions as to the relative merits of Plans 2 and 3. Student input has been highly limited in any case. Students were first invited to the series of meetings on the Radcliffe site plans only the week before Winter Recess Moreover, student members of the CHUL have found themselves unsure of how to proceed primarih because of the unstructured nature of the decision making process and the lack of direct confrontation between interested parties. With that lack of structure one has the sense that most real bargaining is going on behind the scenes.

The Second major problem with current discussion about new construction is the seeming unwillingness of any participants in question the first rule of the game that the College will be expanded. New construction is only a "problem" because it was decided that a 2.5 to Eration would be reached by expanding the College's size. Obviously, expansion is not at all necessary to achieve such a ratio nor to achieve a sex blind policy.

YET THAT DECISION has now achieved a self generating potential of its own. Now that the money is available, it must be used. And once the downs are built, they cannot remain vacant--they must be filled with new students.

Unfortunately, there has never been a serious College-wide consideration of what should have been the first question: What will an expansion in College size do to the quality of undergraduate education? With the projected decrease in the number of teaching fellows, and with the absence of any plans to alter educational facilities in response to an increase in size, the impact of expansion on quality ought to be a primary consideration. It is precisely that consideration that has forced Yale's President Brewster to reevaluate his own decision to expand the size of that institution.

Up until now, the increase in the size of the College has been accepted as a fait accompli by those discussing Plans 1 to 4. Perhaps the proper plan is a new Plan 5: Construct no new dormitory, maintain the current size of the College by admitting more women and fewer men, and use of the donated funds for another purpose.

Perhaps that's not the best plan. Perhaps one of Plans 1-4 is. But that is something this community ought to decide for itself--before the logic of mortar and bricks decides it for us.

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