Additional Budget Cuts

As you know, the College has announced the elimination of various services as the Faculty of Arts and Sciences attempts to bridge a substantial budget gap. In these tough times, we must all make sacrifices, and each of us must bear our fair share of the burden. In that spirit, we regretfully inform you of these additional policy changes for the 2009-2010 academic year.

Late night shuttle service to the Quad will continue, but cuts have forced us to replace the shuttles with giant, multi-person bicycles, which must be pedaled by the students. Further cuts have required us to shorten the route of late night service during the weekend, and shuttles will now pick up students from a deserted alley near Cambridge Common. Due to budget cuts, the lighting in this area has been eliminated. We want to stress, though, that these cuts have freed up additional funding for brain break, and we have arranged for special brain breaks for the entryway of any students who are mugged.

You are already aware that in order to begin to bridge the gap in the Harvard College Library budget, we have made the difficult decision to close the Quad Library. Additionally, to save money, Lamont Library will be limiting service to first-year students and to students living in the River Houses. Quad residents are encouraged to make use of the University’s many other libraries, before they are slowly phased out. An additional cost-cutting measure has forced us to convert Widener Library into a student center for graduate students.

Under the new budget, the dining hall experience will change slightly. In addition to the elimination of hot breakfast, dinner will be just warm, and lunch will be tepid. In order to maximize the efficiency of the budget, all swipers will now be considered full-fledged concentration advisers, with full study-card signing rights. Rising food costs have forced us to severely reduce the menu options, most of which will now be based around plain bread. These cuts do not mean, of course, that we are prepared to compromise on accommodations, and students with special dietary needs are strongly encouraged to talk to their Allston Burr Resident Dean about withdrawing from the College. The dining halls in Cabot House, Currier House and Pforzheimer House will close completely. Please keep in mind that these cutbacks have freed up funding for the long overdue replacement of the electronic information display consoles, which will be newly fitted with IMAX 3D displays.

Unfortunately, the cuts extend beyond residential life, into the classroom as well. Sections will have more students on average, and students, gradually, will become dumber. Since Teaching Fellows will no longer be paid a living wage, grades will be contingent on tips. All sections will only meet every other week, and sections in the Government Department will be replaced by showings of “West Wing” reruns. Undergraduate advising has been eliminated, and will be replaced with a do-it-yourself guide to advising, written by a committee of faculty in the style of a “choose your own adventure” book. Due to cutbacks, this book will only be made available on the Internet. The Q Guide, which we previously thought would be made available in electronic form as well, will instead be passed on by word of mouth in a new oral tradition. Students in the Quad will no longer have concentrations.

We realize that these changes may come as disappointing news, but we urge students to look on the bright side. Opportunities often emerge from adversity, and not all the news is bad. For example, running water will still be supplied to the Quad on weekends and to the Currier “Ten Man” on alternate Tuesdays. And we have specifically set aside funds for the completion of a new undergraduate student center on Mt. Auburn Street, to be finished in time for the College’s quadricentennial in 2036.

We do not take these difficult decisions lightly. University Hall understands the hardship this will mean for undergraduates, and we are all making sacrifices. For example, at a recent faculty meeting, the champagne was arguably subpar. As a symbol of our shared sacrifice, the statue of John Harvard will be meticulously chiseled down to a smaller size in proportion to the budget cut, at a cost of $2.6 million. Since improvements like this, and the amenities of Harvard life, do not come cheaply, we ask for your kind, tax-deductible donation.

Nathaniel H. Stein ’10 is an economics concentrator in Adams House. He is Head Writer of the Lampoon.

For more information on the ins and outs of Harvard life, visit the My First Year homepage.