Thursday, February 4, 2010

Yale in the bad old days

Devices called “econstats” were installed in all undergraduate residences in 1974. The machines offered heat to rooms sparingly, allowing students no heat if the temperature was above 60 degrees, 20 minutes of heat at 50 degrees, 40 minutes at 40 degrees and continuously below 30 degrees. Heaters automatically shut off between 12 and 8 a.m.

Although the administration claimed “the thick stone walls of the colleges retain heat quite well,” according to the News article, students begged to differ. ...

In a spirit of this austerity, the University turned its frugal eye toward dining, as well. Yale’s total food expenditure increased by 27 percent due to rising prices in 1973, and Albert Dobie, the director of University dining halls, was forced to ration students one piece of fresh fruit per day, and to limit servings of meat. ...

Yale adopted a deferred maintenance policy throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s, siphoning resources away from building maintenance and causing many facilities to fall into disarray. Students going to study found puddles in Cross Campus Library in 1979. Responding to complaints from students, Michael Casella, then University’s physical plant manager, said the puddles caused “some cosmetic, but no structural damage,” according to the News.
--Will Horowitz, Yale Daily News, on how Yale cut costs in the 1970s

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