President Lowell has written an article for the Harvard Graduates' Magazine on "The Aim of the Freshman Dormitories" from which extracts are printed below.
After commenting on the fact that many Juniors and Seniors "awake to look back on wasted opportunities" and that as Freshmen "they frittered away their time. . ., failing to acquire intellectual interest or make friends with many classmates who were well worth knowing", he goes on to explain the object of the proposed buildings as follows:
"The Freshman Dormitories are designed to furnish at the start the environment in which all that is best in the manifold richness of college life can develop naturally and rapidly. Their object is to plunge the new-comer at once into the life that the upper classmen have learned to value; to teach him what it means to be a member of a community gathered together for serious aims,--a body large enough to include men of different associations, from all parts of the country, and not too large for every member to count for something.
No Set of Regulations.
"Some fears have been felt, notably by boys still at school, that the gates are to be shut, and the Freshmen sent to bed, at fixed hours. Nothing of the kind is intended. On remarking some time ago that students cannot be driven anywhere by regulations, I was contradicted by the dean of another institution who insisted that by regulations they can be driven to the Devil. I accepted the amendment. We expect to rely upon creating the right environment, upon the influence that can be brought to bear by instructors, by upper classmen and by the leading figures among the Freshmen themselves. Good traditions are the mainstay of good order, and they are not hard to form and preserve, if they are rational, normal and fostered by sympathetic authorities. The Seniors, in gathering voluntarily in the College Yard, have shown a desire to enter into much the same conditions as will be provided by the Freshman Dormitories; but the benefits would be far greater if obtained at the beginning than at the close of the college course.
"The existence of three or four dormitories, each large enough and distinctive enough in appearance to have a corporate sentiment, will give a chance for the intramural games and rivalry that we have lacked since the College has grown large; and will thus tend to throw men together rather than keep them apart. They will stimulate activity and interest, for the defect of the Freshman Year has hitherto been a tendency to indolence and apathy which is always the chief cause of mischievous pleasure-seeking. If the dormitories do not result in a more enjoyable, as well as a more serious and more profitable Freshman Year, we have not read human nature aright."