Harvard's famous "squeeze play" and its role in ridding the campus of its once-famed tutoring schools are the highlights of "College Tutoring Racket," an article in the current issue of the "American Mercury."
The author, Irving Burton, has traced the history of the "Cram-parlors" from the opening of the old Manier Hall Tutoring School 54 years ago to the present-day "big business" organizations which guarantee, they advertise, "to tutor anyone possessing the brains of an ape through college."
Harvard has been a big gun throughout the history of the schools, helping to found them, contributing enormously to their growth, and, finally, giving them the shove that may well lead to their complete disappearance from the academic picture. This shove, Burton suggests, is a step that other colleges should note.
In 1936 some two-thirds of the Harvard student body were regular customers at the tutoring schools, where they paid out a yearly average of $75 per man. Many men spent over $300 a year, and some invested as much as $1,000. The total income of the "tute-schools" was estimated to be in the neighborhood of a quarter of a million dollars a year.
But indignation grow, an the influence of the schools because greater. On April 17, 1939, the CRIMSON threw the first bombshell, when it published a blazing editorial labelled "The Tutoring School Racket," which exploded with:
"Lined up on Massachusetts Avenue, grinning obscenely down over Harvard Yard, there is a row of intellectual brothels... Their grip has tightened until they threaten to constrict all the life and vitally from the Harvard system . . . They are making a mockery of a Harvard education, a lie of a Harvard diploma."
Professors began taking pot-shots at the cram-parlors, the Administration condemned them as "parasites," and the stage was at length set for the "squeeze play," With the aid of several other publishers and evidence complied by the CRIMSON, Macmillan filed suit against the College Tutoring Bureau for violating the copyright laws.
The parlor admitted piracy and closed its doors, sounding the death knell for all similar organizations, for in accordance with the decision, future tutoring, based on class-lecture and text notes, would be held by the courts as a violation of the copyright laws. of the last power that stands between us and complete isolation in a fascist world. The more threat imposed by such a world can check the hopes of liberal democracy: could even destroy it as effectively as war itself.
How far we can and should go in support of England is a difficult problem, but as least it seems clear that if England survives, this country is better off. If we abandon England we abandon any remaining chance to enjoy relatively favored, protected isolation: the kind of isolation that does not bring external pressures of a magnitude that will prevent internal progress.