TO THE EDITORS OF THE CRIMSON:-
SINCE the number of college papers is increasing so rapidly, it may not be amiss to consider the objects of the new ones and to inquire whether they are really needed.
The Echo is a laudable experiment. Whether it supplies a college need, as its editors hope, remains to be seen. The known character of the gentlemen connected with it shows it to be a purely literary enterprise; and they may be considered fair representatives of their class.
Although the Register has not yet appeared, may we not judge, from the prospectus, what its character will be? Every need which the prospectus promises to meet is already provided for by existing publications. The President's report is a special medium through which the Faculty expresses its opinion on college questions, and is also a source of information about the progress of the University to the alumni; while more detailed accounts are furnished by the bulletins of the several departments, - those of the Library, Observatory, and Bussey Institute. News of unusual interest is published both in the daily and college papers. Whatever else there is of interest to alumni can be found in the yearly necrology and the reports of the class-secretaries. So the "wide gap" which the Register is coming to fill is already occupied. We must, therefore, look for another motive for its appearance.
Can any one doubt what that motive is? Do not the numerous guide-books of Harvard, Cambridge, Boston, and Cincinnati speak for themselves? Their object was professedly, and properly enough, a financial speculation, and they met with as much success as they deserved. So long as their editor confined himself to such means, no Harvard student had any right to complain of his object. But when he sets himself up as a representative of the University, can we not question his right to do so? Heretofore young men have come to Harvard to study and to fit themselves for future usefulness, and the College has appreciated them according to their devotion to such an aim. But we see that this is not the purpose of the editor of the Register. He merely trades on the good name of "student" to put money into his own pocket. If, to acquire his education, he were forced to do this, there might be some excuse for thus prostituting the fair name of Harvard to mercenary ends.
Granting that there is a need for such a journal as he seeks to establish, is not the editor, from a literary point of view, wholly unfit for his position? He is understood to have the support and approbation of the President and Faculty, yet could even its youngest member read the pompous prospectus without blushing for his representative?
I am induced to write thus because I believe I am giving expression to a very general, if not universal, opinion among students.