The contention that Harvard is in grave danger of becoming a plutocracy, made in the current issue of the Harvard Graduates' Magazine, is not one which the University can afford to ignore. It represents a general fear among both alumni and undergraduates that the financial requirements of the House Plan rather than requirements of achievement and ability may determine who shall enter Harvard.
In a recent editorial The Yale News set the average annual expenditure for undergraduates at something over $2,000. Although this figure is probably $500 more than that necessary for a comfortable life at college, it confirms, nevertheless, the "Graduate's" assertion that only men with an income of at least $10,000 can afford to support at one time more than one son at Harvard. This means that many sons of professional men must either go to a smaller college or earn something during their college course.
Prizes and scholarships, the "Graduate" points out, have increased rapidly, but not in proportion to the cost of living at Harvard, which has more than doubled within ten years. Students of slight means are often forced to spend so much time in earning part of their expenses that they lose the high scholastic standing on which their scholarships depend. What is equally important, even if capable of maintaining their place in the Rank List, these men are deprived, through limitations on their time, of many of the advantages of college life.
The "Graduate" suggests that the University declare a building holiday and, for five or ten years, devote all gifts to increases in scholarships or the lowering of fixed charges. He envisions the possibility of a ten million dollar fund whereby every year a thousand men who would otherwise enter another college would be enabled to come to Harvard on a complete equality with all. Such a fund is perhaps a Utopian dream. The proposal to employ such money as the University may acquire for an increase in scholarships and a lowering of charges, however, will have the solid support of undergraduates. More important to the University than buildings are the men who fill them. Harvard ought to do everything it can to make the entrance of capable men as little contingent on wealth as possible.