RIOTS AND RIGHTS
Some time ago the "Chicago Trlbune" felt in duty bound to expose the irresponsible juvenility of American colleges. In its editorial columns it called attention to the unpleasant details of "the Mount case" at Northwestern University, and the comment resulting from it, throughout the world. For the French press had secured a version of the incident, and the Paris "Matin" wrote: "the tragedy sheds a great light upon the strange customs of American university life".
"The Mount case", which, briefly, is that of a student trampled to death in a college rush, buried secretly by his classmates, and discovered long afterwards by the authorities, has achieved a tremendous amount of undesirable publicity. It is an incident which justified the righteous anger of the Chicago editor, although it scarcely seemed to justify his conclusion that most college undergraduates were "gilded youth--fantastic, megaphonic, and acrobatic; full of false importance, and indifferent to the future".
But this editorial opinion is often more widely-spread than might appear on the surface. When a group of Yale men took part in a "parade", with disastrous effects on public as well as university property, the press again featured the story. The New Haven case has borne much resemblance to the more sinister incident at North western. And its seriousness has been so great that certain members of the Student Council have issued a statement, which included, among other things, the following sentence: "The tendency during the last few years to disregard the restrictions of ordinary courtesy, the common ownership of public property, and the privileges of citizenship has of late grown to such proportions as to be not only a reproach to the University and a danger to the community, but an influence that is possessed of almost unlimited possibilities for harm".
Incidents such as that at New Haven are serious, and the tendency revealed is one to be combatted: but unnecessary publicity often does more to encourage than to combat. The policy of the Yale University authorities in threatening to cancel the Freshman crew race was neither well calculated to inculate respect for the sacredness of law and order, not to give a proper impression to the outside world. Athletic eligibility has little to do with a general riot, and threats are usually a sign of weakness. In order to "see ourselves as others see us" we have to look through the highly-colored glasses of the press: and so long as the methods of discipline used by university authorities are those which a school teacher might employ, there is every encouragement to the press to consider most American colleges as "juvenile", and their inhabitants as "fantastic, megaphonic, and acrobatic".