No Parity at the Quad

ONE WORD comes to mind when I think of the College's attempts to renovate the Radcliffe Quad: disaster. What might have remedied the inequalities between River and Quad houses has instead fizzled into a pathetic reaffirmation of the status quo.

Some have argued that the project is not succeeding because of inadequate funding. A writer recently used this space to tell us of paint and plaster from his newly renovated ceiling falling on his bed each night. But sloppy work and poor funding only capture part of the problem. Because the idea behind the renovations is itself deeply flawed, the Quad will remain, even after renovations are completed, the river's sloppy second.

THE GOAL of the renovations is "parity"--making Quad houses approximately equal to the river houses. Consequently, delapitated Briggs Hall has been brought back into shape; there are no longer holes in the ceilings and cracks in the walls. And, of crucial significance, its long hallways have been converted into entryways. Cabot House is now--as far is the College is concerned--equal to an average river house.

Parity, however, does not true equality make. Renovations fail to address the problems which Quad residents have to deal with every day. The big one is distance. No one enjoys waking up 15 minutes early in order to brave a long walk in sub-freezing weather. The unreliable shuttle bus system--which boasts twisted, slow routes and infrequent departures--does little to ease the problem. Because University life--socially, extracurricularly, and academically--is centered around the river, separate but equal is inherently unequal.

QUAD HOUSING IS inferior because people have to be forced to live there. And until people want to live there--that is, select it as their first choice house--inferior it will remain. This is not to say that people are not happy with the Quad or that it cannot be a good place to live. But few would choose to live there without the not-too-invisible hand of the housing lottery.


And with the current round of renovations, the College will perpetuate these inequalities, patching the paint on the surface but neglecting what lies deeper. What can you complain about once your room is renovated? Cabot House even has entryways now, just like the river. The College has, we will be told, done its best. It is not possible, after all, to move the Quad.

If, however, the distance between the Square and Radcliffe Quad cannot be changed, the quality of life there surely can. While river residents enjoy proximity to the Yard and the Square, Quadlings could be compensated with superior facilities and rooms. It's a fair trade, one likely to entice enough students to Quad themselves voluntarily.

Q-RAC, the Quad's own private health club, is already a step in the right direction. So is the hamburger option, available only at the Quad. But racketball and beef can't do the trick alone. It will also take substantially more spacious rooms and better shuttle bus service. If buses were to have more direct routes and were to run twice as often as they presently do, the Quad would only be half as far away from the Yard.

A Quad house might, just maybe, actually go first round in the housing lottery.