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The new change in the regulations in regard to absences from the university again brings up the old question as to what is meant by the so-called "voluntary recitation" system. There is nothing in the college regulations that directly asserts that attendance upon recitations is at the option of the student; nor do the authorities directly grant any such principle to exist. Still, the almost universal attitude of instructors and uncertain statements of the regulations have always allowed the inference that, to a certain extent, attendance upon recitations was voluntary. All that was necessary, was that a student should show sufficient ground for supposing that the purposes of his residence were being carried out. Of course, continuous residence was understood, but absence for such a short period as three days seemed to be considered allowable. Whether or not the student was fulfilling those purposes, was supposed to be indicated by the result of his examinations. Still, the faculty, while allowing considerable liberty to the student, always retained the right to insist upon his attending recitations, if they saw fit to do so. This seems to us to be all that has been conceded in the way of voluntary recitations.

Although the faculty did not directly recognize any principle of voluntary recitations, the utterances of individual members and the generally understood tendency of the university administration seemed to imply that a system of government was aimed at which should place the largest responsibility on the student. The paternal system of government was relegated to such colleges as Yale, and Harvard was understood to be striving after the high standard of the German universities where the university offers the student the opportunity of receiving instruction, which he may take advantage of or not, just as he chooses. This tendency has been shown again and again by the annual reports of the president and the dean. If, therefore, the new regulation means anything at all, it means that the system of voluntary recitations, which has really never received a fairer trial, has proved a failure, and that the Harvard student is not prepared for the liberty hitherto tacitly allowed him. In other words, the advance of the last four years has been in the wrong direction.

We do not think that the new regulation is at all in conflict with the rights that the faculty has always reserved for itself, but still it is a tacit recognition of the fact that the high ideal set by Harvard has proved to be unattainable in America, at least under existing circumstances.

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