THE decision by Arthur L. and Lotje Loeb to step down from their posts as masters of Dudley House offers the University a chance to reconsider the ongoing problem of providing off-campus students with the services they need.
During their tenure, the Loebs won praise from students and the administration for their attempts to give Dudley a sense of community, and they worked hard to bring new amenitites--such as a dining hall that is open for dinner--to the house. The Loebs served Dudley House well, even though they had to deal with the University's constantly shifting transfer student policy.
The house remains a troubled one. Many of its affiliates--mostly transfer students--would rather live in the residential houses if the College had the space. But, with already crowded housing, all new transfer students are forced to join Dudley.
BUT after one semester at Harvard, about half of the transfer students decide to become off-campus affiliates of a residential house and have their paperwork transferred there. Forcing all transfer students to affiliate with Dudley when they first come to Harvard makes for confusion when they have to switch advisers and familiarize themselves to a whole new house. Worse still, it keeps transfer students from integrating into house social life--the mainstream of the campus.
Dudley House should continue to provide special services, but only to the students who want them: off-campus students by choice. These students have different needs than most Harvard undergraduates, such as a lounge for the day and lockers. Dudley House and its new masters will be able to serve these students better if they did not have to deal with a group of unhappy transfer students who will want to leave after a semester anyway.