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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

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In a university like ours, changes and innovations of one kind or another are constantly being demanded. The most pressing need now is some method of lighting the library during the evening. The importance of this step has been shown by the numerous pleas for electric lights in the library in the different college papers. It is seldom that in any question concerning the internal affairs of the college the sentiment of the undergraduates and instructors is unanimous, but the benefits to be derived from lighting the library are so manifest as to make all those who are in the habit of using the library anxious to see electric lights introduced. Two or three years ago a strong effort was made to induce the corporation to to light the library during the evening, but as the use of electricity would have been very expensive, and the use of gas out of the question from the risk of setting the library on fire, the corporation took no active steps in the matter.

The objections raised then are now invalid. Since that time a well-organized and responsible electric light company has established itself in Cambridge, and electric lights have almost entirely superseded gas in the various stores around the college. The cost of putting electric lights in the library would be comparatively slight-in fact, insignificant in comparison to what it would have cost three years ago. We have heard that the corporation do not wish to put electric lights in the library until they have money enough to light the yard and law school library at the same time. There is no reason why the lighting of the library should be made dependent upon outside circumstances for there is no immediate need of lighting the yard, and the law school library is lighted with gas. If the corporation wish to show themselves really earnest in the matter, let them begin at once with the college library and then proceed later with the rest their scheme.

Experience has taught us that any digression from the beaten track of college custom, no matter how advantageous or how necessary, can only be accomplished by continuous agitation. The editors of the CRIMSON have there-fore decided to bring the question of electric lights for the library directly before the corporation by means of a petition. The method to be employed in getting signatures for the petition will be the same as that used for the petition against compulsory prayers, which was so successful three years ago. A circular containing the petition which is published on the first page, will be sent to every member of the faculty, instructor and student in college, so as to be received in tomorrow morning's mail. Enclosed with the petition will be found a postal card, requiring merely the answer of "yes" or "no," and the signature of the receiver. We hope to make the petition a means of interesting the corporation sufficiently to take active steps in the matter, but the entire success of the plan depends upon the support the CRIMSON receives from the college. We there-fore ask everyone to whom a petition is sent to favor us with an immediate reply, trusting that by this means the corporation may understand the true sentiment of the college, and hesitate no longer in lighting the library.

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