Two administrators recently got to talking over lunch about the issue of housing. They mentioned that they had been mired in the issue for a long time--that there did not seem to be any real recourse. And then the younger said to the older, "What was there to discuss before the housing issue?", with a tone that sounded much like asking God what went on before Genesis. "We filled the time up somehow," the older reminisced.
Now, it seems, with the deliverance of Dean Fox's new testament on the housing issue this week, the closing chapter of this long and boring book might be at hand.
The plan itself is, in the words of Dean Rosovsky, "Nothing new under the sun." It consists basically of stripping the Quad Houses of their unique four-year status and placing all freshmen in the Yard or thereabouts.
But this time the alternative has new significance. It is the work of a new dean, who is betting that everyone is stick and tired of discussing the various living arrangements and anxious to get to the more fruitful and--unlike the current debate--educational review of undergraduate education.
Preliminary indications show that Fox may have judged the mood correctly. River House masters, with nothing really at stake, favor the plan. And of the Quad House masters, only North House's Hannah and John Hastings have shown significant dissent.
The logjam, if it comes at all, could appear as students from the Quad try to preserve the four-year status of the Houses. But chances are that the dissidents will be placated with a plan that allows the Quad to retain its other significant difference--a lower male-to-female ratio than the River Houses.
It is an easy enough concession to make. If future admissions figures stay at the Class of '80's 1:.91 ratio, only a small juggling will be required.
The Faculty Council has yet to discuss the plan, and the Committee on Houses and Undergraduate Life will hear alternative plans at its meeting next week.
But although the housing report is unlikely to undergo revision in order to pacify some of its opponents, in the long run, well, this may prove to be the last round of the annual housing debate.