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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

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The rules adopted by the Faculty last spring, in accordance with the famous vote of the overseers of January 30, 1889, have now had almost a year's trial. It is difficult to trace their effect except in a general way, and part of the changes they have produced may be only temporary; but it is interesting to notice some of the results. It will be remembered that the overseers first voted that in their opinion it was "expedient that every undergraduate be required to report in person early every morning;" that the Faculty, unwilling to establish a roll-call, adopted rules for daily reports of absences in all courses, and more efficient disciplining of delinquents; that the overseers approved these rules, though still "retaining their opinion as to the desirability of an early morning report." The year's record is satisfactory evidence that a roll-call was not necessary, for its good effects have been obtained without the friction it would inevitably have produced. Under the new rules the daily attendance of students has been more regular than ever before, and has been fully up to the standard any reformer could desire. The slackness in attendance near the beginning and end of recesses has also been checked under the new regulations. While this may be due in part to the greater strictness in placing men under admonition and probation, it has by no means been wholly or even largely due to this, for less punishment has been administered this year than last year.

We do not attribute the improvements altogether to the efficiency of the new rules. There seems to be a better spirit among the students themselves. Men have been awakened to the fact that there has been some loafing here, and that everyone has not been making the best of his opportunities. They go to recitations more regularly, not only because they feel that some punishment is hanging over absentees, but because they are more interested in their studies.

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