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The House System Works

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

To the Editors of The Crimson:

When Allan S. Galper '93 writes in his Opinion piece of November 13 that "no central planner seems able to negotiate numbers between the individual houses," he shows a surprising lack of understanding of Harvard's housing system. It is important to point out the following:

1. When assignments are made in the freshman lottery, the size of a house's actual "returning" population is not known. A real effort is made to give students as much leeway as possible in planning leaves of absence. It is not until the spring term is well over (June 30) that students must notify the College of their housing plans or face a fine for late notification.

2. A house's historic attrition pattern is taken into account in making initial housing assignments though there is, of course, no guarantee that this will hold up.

3. When there are deviations from the historic pattern, every effort is made in the inter-house transfer process and the later assignment of intercollegiate transfer students to equalize the impact of crowding.

4. Students are not moved against their will to another house. (Galper has suggested: "A more open system would allow houses to balance numbers of students--placing those from overcrowded houses into others that have yet to reach capacity.")

5. This year's expected attrition (from March when assignments are made to September when the houses open) was 7.4 percent. This compares to actual attrition in the past six years which has ranged from 7.2 percent to 8.3 percent, and has averaged 7.6 percent. Actual attrition for fall 1991 was 7.0 percent.

While it is unlikely we will ever be able to provide for a student in all of the three upper-class years what Galper reports he or she wants, namely "a room of one's own," we do care a lot about issues of privacy and providing appropriate study space. We are committed to using the real estate we have as creatively as possible to achieve these ends and welcome students' constructive suggestions. Thomas A. Dingman   Associate Dean of the College   For the House System   and Human Resources

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