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Moral Aspects of College Life.


President Charles K. Adams of Cornell contributes to the February Foruw a very thoughtful paper entitled "Moral Aspects of College Life." President Adams, who has been so long connected with the intimate workings of one of the greatest institutions of learning in the country, is well qualified to write intelligently on this subject which is forming a topic of interest, especially in these times, to the public at large.

In his introduction of the subject Mr. Adams takes the generally acknowledged tenet that the evil side of college life-however slight it may be-is much more quickly reported to the world than the positively good side. Making due allowance for this consideration how great are the influences in college life for good, and from evil? An intellectual education alone will not keep men from evil doing. The mere knowledge of iniquity will not be strong enough to keep a man from it. There are then, laying aside this purely intellectual consideration, two chief ways in which the moral strength of college life may be increased: first, by strengthening the impulses towards good; and second, by weakening the impulses towards evil. Under the first head Mr. Adams suggests four elements. Religion, the first named of these, has far more influence upon the average college man than people believe. A religion, or rather the forms of religion which are forced upon young men have less influence than if allowed to be sub-survient to the individual's will. For that reason Mr. Adams believes that the colleges which place no restrictions on the student in the form of church attendance etc., accomplish more good than the ones which enforce such observation. Moreover the colleges which are thus liberal offer fully as much, if not more, opportunity for religious teaching than the opposite kind and more than does the general public. The second impulse leading toward good is public opinion, which at college is strong, and strong it will be generally found, in denouncing that which is dishonorable and evil. The third beneficial force is philosophy. Some good certainly does result for the men who refrain from evil doing on purely philosophical grounds, and this good is greater at college where philosophy is taught than in the outside world. The fourth element is the good example of the extremely large majority of men at college who do their work conscientiously and well. Their influence for good cannot but be felt.

The other way to heighten the morale of the college is by lessening the impulses towards evil. These forces may be greatly weakened by regular and systematic physical exercise which will tend to turn aside the superabundant physical vigor of youth from worse channels. There are two forms of physical exercise which are foremost in importance-gymnasium and out of door sports. Under this latter head Mr. Adams takes up the question of football which he declares to be the best game there is. In this connection also he touches lightly the position and importance which intercollegiate games should have.

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