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Fox Plan: Ignoring The Quad


DEAN ROSOVSKY, in his recent approval of the revised Fox plan, has done a great disservice to both the Quad and the University as a whole. Rosovsky demonstrated that Quad residents will remain second-class citizens of the University when he made only token efforts to improve the Quad's insufficient physical plant, despite the University's $30 million fundraising drive for the expanded Soldiers Field Complex. Rosovsky also blithely ignored the best available solution to the housing problem--University-wide four-year housing. And the Dean's methods in implementing the plan show a lack of real concern for student input.

When serious debate about the University's housing crisis first began years ago, the focus of that debate, as viewed by students and administrators alike, was on the Quad. Students were thus unpleasantly surprised last week when Rosovsky's final solution to the housing problem severely shortchanged the Quad and its residents and instead concerned itself largely with the peripheral problem of Canaday Hall and the question of four-class housing at the Quad. Rosovsky's plan took almost no notice of long-term measures to equalize the quality of all University housing. Rosovsky and Fox dismissed one such proposal, that of remodeling the Yard dorms into Houses and establishing four-year Houses throughout the College as being too expensive. Although he placed the cost of this alternative at $15 to $30 million, the Task Force on College Life predicted the price tag at $6 to $10 million. Whatever the cost, the figure, though high in absolute terms, will be low in comparison to the $30 million the University plans to raise for the expanded Soldiers' Field complex. College-wide four-class housing would provide freshmen with the high-quality counseling and tutor contact they miss in the Yard. Rosovsky has failed to give these and other advantages of four-year housing sufficient consideration.

In the absence of the needed full revamping of Harvard housing, Rosovsky should at least have made an honest effort to face the challenge presented by inadequate facilities at the Quad. Instead Fox's plan as approved by Rosovsky ignores the hard facts of Quad life. Rosovsky's agreement to construct an addition to the South House dining hall and several other token improvements in the Quad environment, such as the opening of the Currier House art and woodworking facilities to use by all the Quad's residents, are only weak palliatives designed to sell the Fox plan to Quad students. It became clear that no genuine attempt to equalize the Quad was in store when administrators disclosed last week that efforts to raise funds for a major athletics complex on Observatory Hill near the Quad had not even begun. Rosovsky also made no mention of major renovations South House needs, nor of a proposal to expand shuttle bus service, or of the fact that some departments still do not schedule sections and seminars at the Quad.

Even worse than Rosovsky's disregard for student needs in the substance of his plan is his concern only for the outward appearance of student consultation in the proposal and its eventual implementation. Although Fox submitted the plan last January for University-wide discussion, Rosovsky approved it last week with very few changes, making the almost two months of undergraduate-faculty debate on the issue seem unimportant. In refusing to seriously consider plans for major renovations of the Quad and the whole housing system, Rosovsky made clear his lack of regard for the opinions of Quad students, who have long clamored for such improvements, and of the members of CHUL, which last year requested serious study of the options for major Quad building efforts. By linking the plan's other proposals to improvements in the Quad's physical plant, Rosovsky's plan became a take-it-or-leave-it package. As a result, two Quad masters agreed not to oppose the removal of freshmen from the Quad if the University funded major improvement projects there.

In keeping the Quad Houses at their current 1.5-to-1 male to female sex ratio and reducing Kirkland's sex balance to 1.5-to-1, Rosovsky did, however, comply with CHUL's recommendations on the subject. But given the Class of 1980's 1.9-to-1 ratio, the establishment of four 1.5 to 1 Houses represents no great achievement. Using the lower University-wide ratio that equal access will bring, Rosovsky could have taken the further step of establishing 1-to-1 Quad Houses without doing serious harm to the sex balances at the River Houses.

The only other issue on which Rosovsky did seriously consider students' opinions concerned the abolition of four-class housing at the Quad. Partly because it removes upperclassmen from Canaday, CHUL came out strongly in favor of this aspect of the Fox plan last January.

This attempt to remedy the Canaday problem has its advantages. Very few of the 190 upperclassmen living in what has become a dumping ground for overcrowded River Houses feel they are part of House social life, a social life based as much on proximity and convenience as it is on planned activities. River House masters have learned they must find "volunteers" for their Canaday entries in much the same way the Army finds "volunteers" for special missions.

But Rosovsky's technocratic effort to better utilize one Yard dorm is far overshadowed by the rest of the Fox plan. Instead of being "comprehensive," as Fox intended his plan to be, the plan shows a myopic concern for the efficient use of Harvard's existing housing facilities and for fiscal conservatism. Rosovsky has made a unilateral decision about everyday College life, a subject on which students have a right to help decide, with only the accoutrements of democratic consultation. He has yet to respond genuinely to demands to equalize the Quad with the rest of Harvard.

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