Although its existence is no longer marked by the constant flourish of trumpets that accompanied its birth struggles, student government appears to be doing well enough, in a quiet way; and once a year it takes pleasure in calling together its representatives from the convenient extremities of Maine and California, to take stock, likewise in a quiet way, and to celebrate another anniversary. The National Student Federation meeting is one of the rare front-page topics left of the sensational tumult that a few years ago nearly brought faculties and undergraduates to blows, and did result in an almost universal organizing of student bodies and student councils.
The positive value in get-togethers of this type is accepted rather more restrainedly now than it was just after the war, during the blanket enthusiasm for every sort of co-operation from the Farmers' Milk Exchange to the Melting Pot. Certainly there is pleasure and prestige to be had through such associations as the National Student Federation; the profit derived therefrom must be a general and genial entity. Without executive power, which no one desires to grant it, the recommendations of the organization through its committees remain merely advisory and the whole advantage of the discussions boils down to an exchange of opinions on ideas that are growing tired.
And, since the country's hundreds of colleges have an equal number of varying outlooks and requirements and administrative needs, this is about as it should be. For the short-sighted Easterner who is in danger of forgetting that education exists even beyond the Atlantic seaboard, the National Student Federation has particular importance. He who lives in a rarefied atmosphere of century-old traditions may still have to learn that sophistication is not necessarily identical with culture, and that the Hintergrund may be no more than a geographical expression.
There is, besides, in the antithesis of this last, an attitude to be warded off: the snide spirit of a small part of Eastern students meets and provokes an intense feeling of dislike for them among the rest of the world. The presence of a representative from Harvard is of high importance at a time when failure to send one could easily be interpreted as an indication of the University's aloofness. Much misunderstanding lies on both sides. Discussions, committees, and contacts may not clear the differences away, but they are at least courageous attempts. The failure of Harvard to concern itself with the proceedings would be detrimental in the worst sense to its wider interests.