At the very outset it should be said that a very large majority of the men in college approve of the faculty regulation which lays restrictions on men who have neglected their college work. We recognize its justice, and take pride in the fact that Harvard stands as a leader in this matter as in all others. At the same time there is a feeling that the very uniqueness of our position may lead to such action in the present instance as would not be taken under different conditions. From the fact that Harvard stands as a leader it is very easy to make the mistake of thinking that more is required of her than really is. The argument will doubtless be used during the consideration of the cases of these men, "We cannot afford to risk misinterpretation outside the" college; and the equal danger of risking misinterpretation within the college may not be so apparent. There is no doubt whatever that the past ten years has seen a steady improvement in the relations between the faculty and the students. There has been a mutual growth of confidence. What each side asks from the other is fairness and justice, and this spirit has generally prevailed in their relations one with the other. The result is that a strong student opinion is usually found back of faculty regulations. Student opinion is the strongest force in college life. It establishes college standards much more surely than faculty regulations do, and it is always unfortunate when the two cannot go hand in hand. On the wisdom of the probation rule students and faculty are practically a unit; it is on the interpretation of that rule that a difference may arise.
There is unquestionably a strong feeling in college that the men on probation have conformed in spirit to faculty rules; that they lost their standing from no wilful desire to neglect college work: one of them was careless and the others unfortunate; that this fall they have shown an honest desire to do their work. What the actual result of their work has been of course the college has no means of knowing, but it feels that the mere work should not decide the matter absolutely; but that the spirit displayed should be considered. Whatever the decision of the Faculty shall be in the matter, this feeling, which certainly exists among the students, should not be disregarded. Enough of the reasons which determine their action should be announced with their decision to show a fair minded man wherein he is wrong in holding the opinion that many of us do.
The lesson from the experience of these men is certainly an impressive one for athletic men. It may seriously be questioned whether the enforcement of the lesson to the extent of keeping the men off the eleven altogether will make it more impressive. Athletic men see plainly that they must do their work to have the same freedom that men have who do keep their standing. They have seen the college supporting the rule of the Faculty which demands this. And in case it is shown that the men are not worthy of being released from probation they will see the college still supporting the rule in the face of as severe a trial as could well be given it. But with the feeling in the college what it is now the inference from unexplained action keeping these men on probation might well be that honest endeavor to do what is required of men and atone for past short-comings is not sufficient, but that punishment must follow according to the strict letter of the law. It is needless to point out why such an inference would be exceedingly unfortunate. The Faculty owes it to itself and to the students that there be no ground for it.