When all else fails, blame the tourists. The online Idea Bank, Harvard College and FAS’s newest brainchild, launched last week. In the words of Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds, transmitted via e-mail to students across campus, the project aims “to creatively [resolve] Harvard’s budget deficit problems”— and it doesn’t disappoint this reliable mantra.
As a venue for students to submit ideas for reducing costs and generating revenues, the Idea Bank seemed to be the perfect place to target the obvious cause of Harvard’s budget issues: the plentiful population of tourists colonizing Harvard Yard.
One student labeled a tourist trap as a “win-win. If tourists pay, we have a constant revenue stream. If not, then we have fewer tourists in the Yard.” Another called for a pay-as-you-go system for entrance to Annenberg since tourists “always manage to get inside no matter how hard the staff tries to keep them out.” (Editor’s Note: We’ve been scoped while eating in this hallowed hall).
Whereas some proposed closings or cutbacks at Harvard sites ranging from the information center to departments to dining halls, one Bank visitor wanted to extend thriftiness to the most intimate of student hangouts—and no, we don’t mean the plan to go old-school, circa 1636, and reopen the fireplaces to save on the heating bill. Instead, one anonymous contributor boldly suggested, “Make people buy their own toilet paper.”
Huh. The Harvard Green Initiative has lauded the effectiveness of limiting napkin dispensers in the dining hall to reduce waste and cut costs. Take away napkin dispensers and less people use napkins. Take away toilet paper and... well, maybe in the interest of cleanliness, the administration shouldn’t accept that advice in concert with these Bank ideas: “People can clean their own bathrooms” and the proposed dumping of Dorm Crew.
What were the most popular suggestions? Fees for postering? Bursting the Stadium “Bubble”?
Nah, the Bank’s biggest hits seemed pretty tame in comparison. Many voters think we shouldn’t “Make it rain” (outside of Pfoho of course) and liked the proposal from Josh M. Zagorsky ’08 to turn off the sprinklers… when it’s already raining. Meanwhile, a whopping 146 students agreed that closed buildings like the MAC shouldn’t stay lit all night long.
Perhaps Nelly Furtado isn’t the only one who wants to “Turn off the lights.”