Crowding As a Shared Experience


The other day a harried House superintendent, beseiged by student requests for furniture usually provided for all rooms by the University vainly sought to explain the current shortage. "The House is missing a lot of chairs and desks and other furniture in rooms. I'm not sure why we don't have enough. Must just be more people in the House."

A common malady plagues the Houses these days: more people. Most sophomores and juniors have abandoned any hope of living in a suite without a person stuck in the living room. Harvard housing officials have jammed every House with students to reach a level they have dubbed "ideal capacity." Still, large discrepencies in the allocation of room space and the burden of crowding exist from House to House.

Last year vocal Mather House students convinced University officials that the students shouldered an unfair share of the crowding within the House system. An ad hoc CHUL subcommittee studied the situation during the summer and eased that burden by shifting 20 students from Mather to other Houses.

Complaints about crowding are no longer heard from Harvard's newest House. JOhn Baum '78, a Mather student who last year measured the dimensions of his bedroom to prove that they just barely met the minimum requirements of the Cambridge building code, said Thursday that he did not know of any juniors or seniors in Mather who are overcrowded this year. Baum said that he and three roommates have the standard junior suite of four bedrooms and a living room.

Not all juniors at Harvard are living so well. Jay Henderson '78, a Winthrop House junior who had hoped to have a private bedroom by this year, is not pleased with having to share his sleeping quarters with a roommate. "I thought I was through with the days of bunk beds where you barely have enough space to breathe," he said yesterday.


Henderson drew a low number in his House's lottery, but even juniors with all the suites in the House to choose from had to accept crowded living conditions at Winthrop. Robert J. Palay '78, a Winthrop House junior with second choice in the lottery, also must sleep in his living room. Palay said yesterday there is "no possibility for juniors to get their own bedrooms in Winthrop House."

He added that his own rooming situation "sucks, especially since my roommate has a girlfriend and I'll probably be in the living room all year."

Some juniors who expected to have private bedrooms this year were disappointed at the last moment by the exodus of students from Mather. Bob Sullivan '78, a Kirkland House resident who originally planned to share a three-room suite with two other people, wound up with unexpected company in a closet-like bedroom when a Mather sophomore was shuffled over to Kirkland. Desks now control almost all the space in Sullivan's small living room. "We have three desks for four people. I think they have furniture but even if they did we couldn't get it in here," Sullivan said Thursday.