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Class feeling is gradually weakening here at Harvard. It is a result to which many causes are contributory. The classes have grown so large that acquaintance between all the members is impossible; probably no man knows, even by sight, all the men in his class, and most men would find it difficult to connect faces with half the names by which, according to the catalogue, their classmates are called. Then, too, the policy of the University now gives to each student full scope in developing his special abilities or tastes. A lively and initiatory interest in their work has been awakened in the students; they enter into the University life with more single and intense purpose, they multiply organizations to supplement their particular interests, they find themselves associated constantly, not with men of the same class, but with men of the same interests. Absorbed in their own occupations, they are careless of what is outside of these.
To have class feeling broken down is, in some ways, a good thing. A university spirit is rather to be cultivated than a class spirit has been so lusty and pugnacious that it was, at best, only an irresponsible boyishness. And yet we believe that the total abolition of the class spirit would be bad. A normal class spirit helps, rather than hinders, a university spirit. If a student's loyalty is to be real, and not sentimental, it must be for that which is really closely connected with his life. Now the freshman, for example, more readily becomes loyal to the class and then to the University than he would to the University taken alone. It is easier to commence with the part and work up to the whole than to take the whole at once. Besides this, there is considerable danger that specialization may lead to narrowness and, to combat this danger, all influences are to be welcomed that make us for a time feel the force of the efforts of other men and thus to judge of the true importance of our own.
The junior dinner is one of the most important of these influences. If properly conducted, no other occasion in the four years' course is so auspicious for a class to become conscious of itself as a class. It is a time when members, who have been occupied with their own interests and satisfied with their own friends, awake to the reality and significance of many other interests which up to that time they had merely felt, in a vague way, to be in existence. The dinner has a tendency to make men more open, hearty and sympathetic, and we strongly hope that it may this year be made an entire success.
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