Harvard's renovation plans for its residential houses where undergraduates live include "flat-screen televisions" for student rooms, "courtesy of Harvard," the Harvard Crimson reports. Also, "wall jacks for students to connect their gaming systems and computers to the television screen."
When I was an undergraduate, students provided their own televisions, if they had them at all. But at that time tuition, room, and board was less than half what it is now.
If I were Senator Grassley or Congressman Paul Ryan I'd introduce a bill tomorrow that reduces federal Pell Grant or research grant spending to any higher education institution by the precise amount of money that that higher institution spent on televisions for student residences or on wall jacks for "gaming systems." The money is fungible, we're in a trillion-dollar a year deficit, and we're borrowing money from China for this? It's not even that flat-screen tvs are so expensive these days, but that just goes to show that the students should be able to buy them themselves if they want them.
I'm sure Harvard has some rationale for this that involves environmental responsibility or reducing the need for summer storage space or some other concept that makes internal bureaucratic logic. But at least on the basis of the Crimson article, it strikes me that this may be a tough one to justify to either taxpayers or alumni donors. I could be wrong about the alumni donors, who are very loyal and who may give for a variety of reasons and who may, for all I know, not mind that their money is being spent on the wall jacks for gaming systems.