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To the Editors of The Crimson:
When my rooming block awoke this morning, we felt a sense of relief--our housing choices had been made and by 4 p.m. our fate, along with the fate of the entire first-year class, would be in the hands of the computer. At least, that's what we thought.
Your irresponsibly premature article and survey on the first year student's house choices transformed our relief into anger and uncertainty. We were very angry. Angry that the point of the trial "non-ordered" choice had been defeated. By 4 p.m., many students, in a panic, would undoubtedly change their house choices. After agonizing over what houses we really liked best and whether or not we should try to "beat the system", we decided to do what Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 had intended. We, like most first year students, had listed four houses where we would be happy to live.
The very concept of using this year's first-year students as a test of "non-ordered choice" was sabotaged by The Crimson's eager attempt to get the story out quickly. Instead of waiting one day more to print this article, which would then have reflected the students definite decisions and eliminated the 3.9 percent undecided factor, you guys jumped the gun. We were also uncertain of how this article would affect our fate in the lottery.
Printing this article on Wednesday and not Thursday may seem trivial, yet it was the difference between printing news and creating news based on uncertain figures. How many other people changed their choices on account of your article remains to be seen. Perhaps that would be news worth reporting.
After reading the article in The Crimson, I called The Crimson office. I'm sorry to say that some poor sports writer received my wrath.
However, he did tell me some interesting information. Hearing that one of our house choices had been relatively unpopular in the poll, he told me not to worry. "Last year we printed the same poll on the same day. Only about 9% of the freshman said that they listed North House first choice and it ended up going first round."
What this reporter failed to realize was that he had just told me precisely what was, to me, the most upsetting aspect of the housing article. The Crimson, instead of reporting the news, helped to create it.
My roommates and I did not change our house choices on account of your article and I am sure we will be happy wherever we wind up living. Your article, however, only added to the tension and uncertainty of an already tense and uncertain situation. Your article and survey were quite interesting. I only hope that next year, your timing will be more judicious. The reporter with whom I spoke told me that this article has always been done on this day. Perhaps it is another Harvard tradition worthy of change. Betsy J. Facher '93
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