"In Xanadu" one reads, "did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree" and lo! immediately "it was a miracle of rare device."
Unfortunately this is not Xanadu nor has there yet appeared any wonder-working Kubla Khan. In twentieth century America all structures, whether material like pleasure domes or intellectual like educational systems must be built slowly and with particular attention to solidity. Thus almost all construction which necessitates broad and deep foundations necessitates also the employing of some temporary shelter in which the builders can work and think until the edifice which they have conceived rise over and around them in its complete and adequate proportions.
To reconcile the ideal with the practical, the future with the present is difficult indeed, but such a reconciliation is essential to any plan looking towards change in an existing institution. The suggestions offered below attempt to combine preparedness with practicability.
The following suggestions then might be considered capable of practical and immediate application under the existing system of college administration:
1) All undergraduates who become members of the Junior Class in good standing should be for the remainder of their stay in College automatically released from all paternalistic regulation in their work. In brief this will mean that compulsory attendance at classes and disciplinary measures such as probation will for them cease to exist, and that in the organization and accomplishment of their college work they will be left to themselves; the initiative will be theirs, to use for gaining their education themselves and thus for their greater profit. What supervision may be necessary will be of the "man to man" type offered by the tutorial system.
2) For the present the College should exercise such supervision over the lower two classes as it at present does over the upper two, aiming, however, towards developing and giving as much free play as possible to the student's initiative.
3) The requirement in the Modern Language Examinations should be changed. The elementary examination should be either abolished or else a second reading examination substituted. And while no undergraduate could receive his degree before passing these requirements he should be given his full College term to accomplish this and should not be subject to disciplinary action on account of any failure connected with these requirements.
4) No undergraduate in any class should be subject to disciplinary action as the result of hour examinations. With the two upper classes freed from all such action this would mean in effect that no Freshman or Sophomore would be placed on probation for low grades except at the time of the midyear and final examinations. Conversely no student would be released from probation except at these two periods.
5) Greater distinction should be made by the College between "honor" and "pass" degrees, and some method devised for creating a more general acknowledgment of such a distinction.
It would be scarcely intelligent to assume that those interested in the administration of the University have not considered suggestions similar and possibly more far-reaching than the above. They are, however, offered, as it were, from the receiving end of the system and it is hoped that at least on account of the point of view they represent they may perhaps be of value.
"Planks" of necessity they are, but they fit directly into a scaffolding. And the scaffolding itself suggests a finer structure of which it has only been possible to sketch the elevation. If any nails are to be driven home to ensure the stability of even one upright, the only student body capable of driving them is the representative council. If, as has been so far promised by vague rumorings, it shakes off its former lethargy, it can wield to effect the hammer it has long unconsciously held.