Thursday, July 23, 2009

Harvard going broke: No more free coffee or warm classrooms Outside, along the Charles River, the cherry trees were in bloom. In Harvard Yard, the wide grassy lawn was soft and green. To my left was a bronze statue of John Harvard, the university's first major benefactor, his shoe polished to a high gloss by passersby. Then something else caught my eye: discarded paper cups, torn and crumpled candy wrappers, an empty Evian bottle. The trash can in front of the stately, granite University Hall was overflowing. It was a bad sign.

Smith's audience listened intensely. Already, they had seen evidence of the cutbacks Smith was alluding to. All across campus, as a preliminary measure, thermostats had been lowered during the winter months, from 72 degrees to 68 degrees. Students and faculty were no longer entitled to free coffee at the university's Barker Center. The Quad Express, which shuttles students between the Radcliffe Quadrangle and Memorial Hall, would soon be running every 20 minutes, not every 10 minutes. More recently, despite loud protests from Harvard's athletes, among others, it was announced that hot breakfasts would no longer be served on weekdays at undergraduate residential houses. Instead of bacon, poached eggs, and waffles, students would have to get by on cold ham, cottage cheese, cereal, and fruit.