The Path to Public Service at SEAS
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Last evening President Eliot addressed an audience composed of undergraduates which completely filled Sever 11. As he entered he received hearty applause.
His address was concerning "What the students can do for the college." The first idea of the average student on being asked this question, would be, that he might best serve his college by excelling in athletics, but while it is a good thing to excel in body, in strength and in health, only a few can possibly serve the college in this way. There are other ways for you to serve the college. Harvard represents a peculiar policy of government; a policy which gives freedom to its students and which can only be successful as its results are successful. Students ought to feel this and act accordingly. The average behavior is much better than that of a few years ago but we still have some survivals of the old times and some barbarous customs brought from other institutions. Attendance is another thing which has attracted the attention of the overseers during the past year. You can serve the college by being regular at your recitations.
The system of voluntary attendance with its absence of petty punishments is a good thing because the attendant is more regular and willing than under any other system. For this reason every man ought to do his best to support the policy, for it is the reports which are spread concerning individual cases which do the most harm.
Further you can serve the college by a wise course of elective studies. This freedom is the greatest advance made yet by any American college, and although its utility is doubted by outsiders it is apparent here at Harvard. In our work, moreover, we should strive to have some ideal; seek to cultivate a just independence of thought, and to go beyond what other men have learned. A university amasses human knowledge, stores it up and bids its students push a little farther into study.
Finally, Harvard's religious system is unique. It rests with each man to say whether it shall be a success or a failure, and it is a failure if it does not succeed in making the men religious.
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