EDITORS DAILY CRIMSON:- After the talk which followed President Eliot's remarks on "College Opinion" Monday night had gone on some time, I thought of giving a reminiscence of the "Conference Committee" of which I was one faculty member, when the meeting suddenly came to a close. In order to free my mind, I send my reminiscence to you. It concerns the matter of cheating at examinations, which the Conference Committee discussed at many meetings, and at considerable length. All wished to raise the tone of student honor, and if possible, to have the honor trusted, without proctors. But no practical scheme was discovered, and the subject was at last let drop.
One scheme proposed was this-that the faculty should allow any club of students who should severally guarantee the club's honor and get a member of the faculty to be their sponsor, to have examinations without a proctor. This scheme, to my great surprise, found no one but its author to defend it. Men said that it would be hard to get many groups of a dozen or more men to go bail for each other's honors in this way; that certain groups of men might form such clubs for the express purpose of cheating; that a club honestly formed might not remain pure, etc. In brief, the project met no favor. Now, to me this little incident was a revelation of the low ebb to which the college tone had sunk as regards effective moral opinion. I thought I could perceive that what made this scheme unpromising was not so much the conviction that even in such clubs men would cheat, but the feeling that if any one should cheat, he would have the club at his mercy. The other members would then have to expel him unanimously; or, failing of unanimity, some would have to resign and so break up the club rather than remain associated with him; and this sort of aggressive righteousness was to much to expect from men bred in our atmosphere. A challenge to that kind of righteousness was, it seemed. one which we could hardly count on men's accepting.
The impression this episode gave me of the debilitated tone of social responsibility here was startling. By social responsibility I mean the willingness to act for the social ideal, no matter how much obstructive individuals have to suffer. In this sort of civic courage our race has led history; and why it should be so lacking here I do not know. Perhaps my vision of the facts is distorted. But it seems to me that, if it is not, this is the reform in "college opinion" which we most deeply need. If individuals cannot be sent to Coventry, no matter what they do, how can we ever get the tone of honor here which we might get-a tone in many respects much higher than that of the outer world?