House Transfer Debate Renewed

This Year's Low Numbers Eyed

In the wake of record numbers of interhouse transfer applications--and record numbers of denials--the Committee on House Life yesterday re-opened the debate on the College's interhouse transfer process.

The discussion came two weeks after the College held its spring interhouse transfer cycle.

This year's number of transfer requests, 212, dwarfs last year's number of 169. Last year was the first time the College instituted a spring transfer process.

Despite the increase in applications, houses permitted fewer transfers this year, declining from 127 last year to 111 this year, just 52.4 percent of those who applied.

According to Housing Officer for Harvard College Kay M. Millet, the decrease in matriculating transfers comes after the College fixed existing limits on students entering the houses.


"Last year, the caps weren't evenly done. The incoming cap was fixed at eight percent this year," she said.

Under the present system, houses may accept inter-house transfers equal to only 8 percent of their estimated incoming sophomores and intercollegiate transfers.

As a response to the decrease, Committee Member Hillary Anger '94 presented a proposal to the Committee to increase the existing limits on incoming transfers to 10 percent.

"Rejecting potential transfer students means forcing students to live in a place they do not want to live and undermining the whole purpose of the housing system," she said in her proposal.

In addition, houses may also add students to replace those who transfer to a new house. A house may lose up to 4 percent of its continuing students, incoming juniors and seniors.

Nine houses reached the cap on the number of incoming students, Millet said.

Large numbers of transfers disrupt the balances between classes and gender in the houses, she said.

Such an exodus could cause problems for house masters trying to find single rooms for an unbalanced proportion of seniors, she said.

Administrators are also concerned by the effect any large changes would have on the houses community.

"Within reason, interhouse transfers are probably OK, but to the degree that the numbers become too large it would call into question the meaning of the house community," said Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57.

Yet Anger said that by increasing student satisfaction, the transfers would help the house community.

"I think that as far as you would exchange people who don't want to be there for people who do want to be there, that that's really community in my mind," she said.

The Committee reached no consensus on any changes in the transfer process, but returned the matter to a subcommittee that will discuss the transfer process.

Jewett said the transfer caps will be re-examined after summer transfers which are done on a space available basis.

In a telephone interview last night. Anger suggested further altering the transfer process by allowing masters to make even transfers after they have achieved their cups.

"These changes wouldn't affect the house sizes or balances, because the masters could affect these changes on a student-for-student basis, like a male junior for a male junior," she said