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Four Year Houses



To the Editors of The Crimson:

My purpose in writing is to express some strong feelings I have on the question of freshmen in the quad. I have thought about this a good deal in the course of the past two years; in addition to serving as Head Tutor in the Economics Department, I lived for two years in Comstock Hall, a quad dorm with roughly half freshmen and half upperclassmen. I also taught Ec 10 four times (twice as a North House section).

My feelings can be stated simply:

(1) Because of its physical plant and location, the quad has disadvantages which cannot be overcome with simple physical investment.

(2) In order to prevent the creation of a large and unahppy group of truly second class citizens, every possible attraction of the quad must be preserved.

(3) A major attraction of the quad is its freshmen. The reason may not be obvious to those who have not resided there, but there can be no question about it: freshmen vitalize the place. They are the source of an infinite amount of energy which transforms the atmosphere in a corridor living environment. Without them, I myself would have chosen the river as a place to become a tutor.

(4) A bit of empirical evidence on this might be gleaned from a short stay in a quad dorm with freshmen and a similar stay in one without freshmen. The difference is unbelievable.

(5) The whole problem is reinforced since those who tend to "choose" the quad in the spring lottery are very largely those who lived in the quad as freshmen and understand the nature of its myths.

(6) The advantages of four class living cannot be denied. I saw for two years the benefits derived by freshmen from the presence of upperclassmen. These benefits are social and psychological as well as academic and cannot be achieved in any other way.

There is no question in my mind that this decision would create housing crises of increasing severity in the course of the next few years. I urge you to consider the pros and cons of this plan very carefully. My years at Harvard in the Economics Department and at the quad were the best years of my life. I owe more than I can express to the freshmen (now sophomores, juniors and seniors) that I got to know in Comstock; it would be a very different place without them. --Chip Case   Wellesley, Mass.

[Chip Case is a former Head Tutor in the Economics Department.]

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