THE OVERSEERS ELECTION
Harvard and Radcliffe graduates should be entitled to vote for Overseers of Harvard College as soon as they receive their diplomas. Each year, some 15,000 men and women who hold degrees from Harvard, and presumably have sufficient intelligence to have obtained a diploma, are denied the chance to vote for Overseers.
The reason: 101 years ago (yes, exactly 101 years ago), the Massachusetts State Legislature passed a law, on April 25, 1865, subsequently assented to by both the Overseers and three months later by the President and Fellows of Harvard, providing that "no person who has received from said College the degree of Bachelor of Arts should be entitled to vote for Overseers before the fifth annual election after graduation of his class."
In every State of the Union, American Citizens are entitled at age 21 to vote for the President of the United States. Why should greater wisdom or longevity be required to vote for Overseers of Harvard College? The trend in several states has been to lower the voting age below age 21, in part on the reasonable theory that if citizens can be drafted into the Army or other Armed Services at 18, they should be permitted to vote for the officials and on the issues relating to their lives.
Harvard would benefit from its recent graduates' immediately exercising the right and responsibility to vote as soon as they graduate. To deny them the right to vote for five years naturally discourages their sense of participation in Harvard affairs which is the very spirit which should be encouraged by those interested in increased fund-raising and in the healthy spirit of Alumni participation in the government of Harvard. Langdon P. Marvin Jr. '41 First Marshal