After The Ball Was Over


(Ed. Note--The Crimson does not necessarily endorse opinions expressed in printed communications. No attention will be paid to anonymous letters and only under special conditions, at the request of the writer, will names be withheld.)

To the Editor of the CRIMSON:

Now that the mortality percentage for the General Examinations is a known quantity and we may behold our fallen comrades, it might be well to cast a glance at the examination system which determined who is to have a degree.

The system of general examinations works well, no doubt, as far as each individual department of the college is concerned. The examinations determine accurately enough who in each field should fail, and who should be passed. But does the system work well for the various departments considered as a unit and called Harvard College? This, I maintain, it does not do.

It is a well known fact that certain departments of Harvard are less difficult than certain others. Every one knows, for example, that the Philosophy and English Departments are more difficult than the Social Ethics and Anthropology Departments. Not only are the majority of courses within the "snap" departments easy, but worse still, these departments are more lenient than the other departments in recommending seniors for a degree. Herein lies the evil of the system. Conferring a degree upon one senior and refusing to confer a degree upon another means that the authorities of Harvard College believe that the one senior has obtained a better education than the other senior. But with the existing inequalities among the departments it is not always true that the senior who is given a degree has obtained a better education (in the broad sense of the word) than the senior from whom a degree is withheld. Thus the system may frequently do a grave injustice to a senior, only because he has chosen the harder path.

This is not mere theorizing. I feel sure that the system has actually done an injustice to one of my classmates (there may be more) in as much as it is to deny him an degree and is to give a degree to certain men in the "snap" departments who not only have been notorious loafers during their college careers but also have failed to make themselves worthy of the ranks of the educated.

Either the system of general examinations must be overhauled, or standards in the "snap" departments must be raised.

(Name witheld my request.)