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Housing Hubbub

THE MAIL

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

To the editors of the Crimson:

My! I suppose I must thank you for assigning me such star billing for my past role in the Housing office. While I have been accorded a certain notoriety as a result of the article by Roger Klein (September 28), I feel it only appropriate to call to your attention that the article credits me with power I never, until now, fully appreciated. The deans, the House masters, a bevy of senior administrators, and the members of the Committee on Housing and Undergraduate Life, all participated in developing the housing policies and monitoring my work., Indeed, I am flattered in the knowledge that in the years I was in the Housing Office I was personally able to ride so roughshod (if your article is to be believed) over the policies developed by some of the finest minds in Harvard. In short, there are many other actors who deserve star billing in the housing story far more than I. If you are to evaluate what was done, and how it was done, it would seem, only fair to examine why it was done. But frankly, such rehashing of the past is a bore.

Although I am hurt and quite angry at the tone of your article, I know that there are a number of people, including students, who know that my work was effective (judged by objectives of the time) and was not, in itself, a cause for changes to the present policy. Indeed, given the circumstances of housing, the various policy changes that have evolved can each be looked upon as necessary to effective development. I have no personal quarrel with the changes that have been made. But by the same token, I donot concede that what was done in the past was necessarily either ineffective or inappropriate. The policies, and their administration have flowed through successively logical, perhaps even necessary phases.

Publication of a poem sent to me with some roses is a fine example of the distortion in your article. As the student knows who sent the roses, his purpose was to offer (albeit, without direct reference) apology for his rather startling display of abusive language, bad manners, anb insolence in conversation with me. No one could have been more disappointed than I when he drew No. 1 in the lottery for transfers then in progress. Thus, in light of his previous discourtesies, if I were given to injecting personal preferences into the system, my preference would have left him at the bottom of the list. That I did nothing to interfere with his right as a "winner" of the lottery is evidence quite contrary to that inferred by Mr. Klein's article.

The references to me in your story stand as a rather remarkable exhibition of abysmal ignorance, irresponsibility and a curious desire to insult. That the author would want to expose this lamentable combination of traits is quite sad. Eleanor C. Marshall   Assistant to the Assistant Dean of the College

ROGER KLEIN REPLIES:

While I apologize to Mrs. Marshall for impressions readers may have received to the contrary, I intended no criticism of her administrative abilities--only a criticism of a transfer system that would have overwhelmed any one person. As Ann B. Spence, assistant dean of the College pointed out, hundreds of students applied to one person, Mrs. Marshall, and especially high numbers applied during certain seasons. Because students applied at different times, no administrator could have remembered the details of sufficiently many applications to make the neutral connection between one-to-one transfer "fits."

The sophomore who sent Mrs. Marshall a bunch of roses explained the incident to me as I wrote it. In addition, I meant the story as an illustration of how frequently personalities became involved in the transfer process, a situation many transfer applicants have testified to.

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