In accordance with a requirement in operation this year for the first time, twenty-three members of the class of 1914 are on probation because they have failed to pass an oral examination in French or German. The question very naturally arises as to the reason for the precedent of inflicting probation merely for failure to pass in one particular requirement. Formerly probation has always meant deficiency in scholarship. According to the University regulations a student is place on probation if he has failed of promotion because he has not passed in a sufficient number of courses during the year. In other words, probation has formerly been inflicted for general negligence, as a means of compelling a student to devote more time to his studies until the required standard is once more attained. It has not been inflicted, however, for failure to pass in any particular course. For example, a student is not placed on probation for failing to pas in the prescribed Freshman English; he simply has a deficiency which must be removed before he can obtain his degree.
It seems unwise to subject a man to the stigma of probation even though he may stand high in scholarship, merely because he has not passed an oral examination in a particular language. The case would be exactly analogous to that of inflicting probation for failure to pass in the prescribed Freshman English, French, or German, if that were the rule, which fortunately it is not. If probation comes to be the uniform penalty for failure in some particular course, will it not lose all its weight in the minds of the undergraduates?
Furthermore, is it altogether fair to subject a man who otherwise stands creditably in his studies to the severe penalty of probation and all that goes with it, because he does not pass a particular examination within a stated time? The confidence might easily be realized of a scholarship man being on probation, and there is serious doubt in our mind whether a scholarship man, by the definition of the term, can be "on probation."