One of the most forced and misplaced institutions ever established at Harvard was inaugurated last night when the Lowell House "high table", surrounded by the starched shirts of distinguished guests, the President, and members of the faculty, received its baptism.
There was something grotesquely ridiculous about the whole ceremony that antagonized many Lowell House members and gave every indication that so unnatural a growth would have difficulty flourishing at Harvard. The long wait before the students were admitted to the dining hall and the failure of the electricity were undoubtedly unforeseen mishaps which will not reoccur. Nevertheless there still remained the spectacle of a group of performers, making a stage entrance in their dinner jackets, eating, it seemed, almost as a lesson in manners to the herd seated down in the pit, and then making an exit which gave the signal to the 250-odd undergraduates that the show was ended, that they could leave the room.
As much as one racks one's brains, one can find no conceivable good for the undergraduate members of Lowell House in this double dinner party other than the possible gain in house spirit which would result from the feeling that the undergraduate body of the house was dining as a unit. What good, for instance, did the undemocratic display of starched laundry, of respectable citizenry, of distinguished faculty able citizenry, of distinguished faculty bring to the students? Obviously, by all the simplest canons of good taste, the whole house should, to achieve its avowed objects, have a unity of dress and eating level.
The matter of dress and high and low table are perhaps details, but they are details that disclose a principle which is not in accord with the principles of the House Plan as they have been explained time after time by President Lowell and various other officers of the University.
How much better, more natural, more reasonable, how much less offensive, less stilted, less grotesque would it have been for everybody to have dined in the same costume, on the same floor, with at least an outward show of the equality, democracy, and sense of inter-relation which are to be part of the House Plan.
Fortunately, the House Plan is still developing, is still in a fluid state. The lessons that have been learned by the first two houses will be turned to the benefit of the ones now under construction. The lesson of the high table should be obvious.