Coolidge Explains House Plan to Graduates in Speech In St. Louis---Emphasizes Social Benefits to be Derived
St. Louis, Mo., February 20--Speaking before a large gathering of interested Harvard men at the Harvard Club here tonight, Professor Julian L. Coolidge, recently appointed master of the first Harvard House discussed the aspects of the new educational departure that Harvard will attempt to put into operation in the near future.
In defending the House Plan before the onslaught of flying rumors of opposition Professor Coolidge emphasized the fact that the new Houses will effect no change in the educational curriculum, whatsoever. He stressed the argument that the new plan was merely a natural step in the evolution of the college in conformance with the outside influences of Cambridge and Boston.
In conclusion he touched briefly on social influences which are expected to insure the community of interest, and those bonds which would tend to confirm loyalty to Harvard College in its traditions and atmosphere.
The text of Professor Coolidge's speech follows:
"The object of the 'House plan' as proposed for Harvard is social, and in the broader sense cultural. There is no question of sub-dividing the present methods of instruction, of changing the requirements for degrees, or of altering the scope and method of instruction. Professors, assistant professors, and instructors will be Harvard teachers, not teachers of this or that 'House.' Degrees will be Harvard degrees carrying the authority of three hundred years of unbroken traditions. The President of Harvard University will be President of the whole University and all of its component parts.
"In the same way there is no question of changing the athletic conditions of University life. Harvard will be represented by teams in all the major sports as in the past. The coveted 'H' will mean all that it ever has meant in the life of the undergraduates.
Sole Aim Social
"The object of the 'House' plan is not scholastic in the educational sense, it is not athletic, it is social. That is to say, the aim is to create a society. What is a society? The dictionary tells us 'it is composed of persons united by the common bond of neighborhood and intercourse and recognizing one another as associates, friends, and acquaintances.' The one and only object of the 'House' plan is to create societies exactly under this definition.
"Why is it necessary to create a new society in Cambridge? What is there new in the situation that calls for such a radical step? The new element is the gradual evolution of Harvard from a compact New England academy in a quiet town to a cosmopolitan university within eight minutes of the center of an urban population of some two million souls. Harvard life has become diversified and shot through with every sort of human interest and divergent aim so that an individual student can see only a small portion of it all. He cannot see the woods for the trees. Life is very much rushed, very confusing, and it is very difficult to maintain the necessary cohesion.
A Generation Ago.
"A generation ago Harvard students ate together; one thousand of them took their meals in Memorial Hall, eight hundred more were in Randall. Today the freshmen take their meals in the four dining rooms of their dormitories. The majority of the upperclassmen do not take meals at all, but bolt their food hur- ridly in the rush and noise and clatter of any one of the score of cafeterias, eating houses, or lunch counters, which occupy half the stores in the vicinity of Harvard Square.
"A generation ago a student looked upon his room as his home. He often stayed in the same place three or four years. He took an interest in making that room comfortable and attractive. He hung the walls with signs whose origin he was not always willing to reveal. He covered his sofa with cushions which he maintained were made by lovely girls of his acquaintance.
An Irresponsible Boarder
"Today a student passes his first year in a Freshman dormitory, his last year in the Yard, and the two intervening years in one or two dormitories or houses where he can find a lodging to suit his taste and his purse. He takes no interest in his room because he feels that he will presently leave it. He is an irresponsible boarder as far as the dormitory is concerned. A certain portion of the students, perhaps ten or fifteen per cent., are members of small social clubs.
"A large proportion of the others are socially adrift. There is no intention that the new 'Houses' should be hostile to these clubs, but it is evident that the contacts which a club supplies are far too limited for a widening effect upon the members, and it is equally evident that the majority of men who do not belong to any club are not less in need of a more coordinating social organization than Harvard College offers them today.
"What is, then, the idea of a 'House' or a society 'of persons united by the common bond of neighborhood and intercourse and recognizing one another as associates, friends, and acquaintances'? Clearly the essential is a combination of unity and diversity.
"Unity will come from one to three hundred young men living together in a large collegiate building, taking many of their meals in a common dining room, spending part of the evening