AS the Class Secretary of '80 has thought it worth while to answer at some length the article in the last Crimson on the College Fund, I should like to define my position a little more clearly.
I certainly did not intend to advise "that the College Fund be discontinued," and I think that this meaning can hardly be drawn from my language. I have no objection to a College Fund, provided that every one is left perfectly free to subscribe or not, as he sees fit. In the case of many other subscriptions, - for instance, those to the Class Fund and to the University Crew, - a man cannot very well refuse to subscribe, unless he is absolutely unable to do so. About these subscriptions, then, as well as some others, there is, and very properly, more or less obligation. But the College Fund is not on a par with these, and a subscription to it should not be regarded as a duty performed, but as a gift freely given. It has been so regarded, to some extent at least, in the past; but it does no harm to call attention to the matter again.
The writer in the Advocate, whom I will call A., attempts to show that a subscription to the College Fund is something which every one should feel called upon to give, on account of the obligation which every one is under to the College. By the words College and Alma Mater, he evidently means the benefactors of the College. Our debt to the College is our debt to its benefactors. But in what way is this different from our debt to others who have lived before us? Granted that a student cannot perform certain every-day acts "without receiving that which he does not pay for," are there any other acts which any one can perform without continually receiving that which he does not pay for, without being in debt to the past? I think not. A. speaks of our debt to the College as if it were necessarily a pecuniary debt. It seems to me that it is more of an obligation than a debt, and that it can be paid off in some other way than in money. Indeed, a money subscription is a very poor and inadequate way of recognizing the benefit we have received from the College. The account certainly cannot be squared by a $50 subscription to the College Fund.
My object in referring to the prices of College rooms was to show that the present authorities of the College had no reason to call upon us for a subscription at graduation on the ground that we have not paid for what we have received here. As far as what we have received can have a money value put upon it, we have paid for it. It is no more fair to ask us to pay for all the benefit we have received from College, than it would be to ask a man to pay the author of a book the value of what he had gained from reading it. I wished to point out the fact, which I did not suppose would be disputed by any student, that for rooms in the College buildings we pay decidedly more than a business value. I cannot believe that A. really thinks that "the only object of the College in having dormitories is to keep down room-rents in Cambridge." If it is, the method of securing that beneficent end is decidedly queer. I can hardly believe, either, that a subscription of even $20,000 by the present Senior Class would have the effect of lowering room-rents. At any rate, I have not faith enough that this would be the result to be willing to contribute my share of the sum needed to make the experiment.
In conclusion, I can say with truth that wan of sympathy with the Faculty is not at the bottom of my opinions in regard to the College Fund, and there are certainly many others who are not influenced by considerations of this sort. I am fully sensible of the valuable privileges which the Faculty have granted us, and I have very rarely felt a want of sympathy with them. But I cannot regard the College Fund as having as much claim upon the student as many other subscriptions have, such as that to the University Crew, because, 1st, we have already paid a fair price, if not more, for all that we have received here, as far as it can have a money value put upon it; and 2d, a subscription in money is not the only way, nor the best way, to make some return for that benefit we have received which cannot be estimated in so many dollars and cents.