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Harvard Outbids Groups Seeking Space In Square

Letters to the Editors

By Thomas W. Chalberg

To the editors:

You are right on that the College could be doing more to make space available to the myriad homeless student groups on campus (Editorial, “Where is Our Clubhouse?” Oct. 21). The problem, however, is not that Harvard does not pursue real estate opportunities in Harvard Square (quite the opposite), but that University Hall’s concerns don’t follow the priorities of its student constituents.

The case of the groups affiliated with the Institute of 1770, however, represents a very separate phenomenon that deserves more complete treatment. The affiliated student groups have unusually demanding requirements for rehearsal, entertainment and office space, and the leadership recognized that the College cannot provide enough space to all student groups. Rather than try to monopolize the limited space that is available, student leaders have worked tirelessly using their own resources to find space for their groups to call home. Despite the fact that they were time and time again outbid by the aggressive and rude Harvard apparat, they kept on. They should be applauded for their efforts—not only for freeing up Harvard’s student space, but for taking control of their own fate in the problematic situation you describe.

With University President Lawrence H. Summers’s announcement outlining the plans for Harvard’s real estate in Allston, student groups should make their needs heard loud and clear—for space at the new campus and for the vacated space in Cambridge. In the meantime, student leaders should realize that Harvard cannot be counted on to provide resources that student groups need, and should look to the Hasty Pudding groups as shining examples of how to provide needed resources for their organizations.

THOMAS W. CHALBERG ’99

Stanford, Calif.

Oct. 21, 2003

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