There is an agitation on foot, originated by the religious societies and religious interests of the-college, to erect some building within the yard where the religious life of Harvard may find a home, a place in which to be fostered. While from pecuniary reasons there seems to be little chance that the agitation will have any immediate material result, it may be well to discuss briefly the plan suggested, together with a second proposition for such a building.
It has long been felt that the religious life of the college and the religious feelings among the students have suffered for lack of some definite, recognized organization and expression. To give strength to what religious tendencies there were in the University, religious societies were started, of which there are now three. Whatever good these societies have done, there is still a need felt for a further strengthening and building up of the religious interests. Following the example of certain other colleges which have their religious interests fostered in one building, the agitators of the new plan propose to erect a building at Harvard which shall stand pre-eminently for the religious life of the college and give it greater strength in the eyes of the college and of the outside public. For this purpose they would confine the new building strictly to religious interests, to rooms for the different religious societies, to accommodations for the college preacher, and to any other religious purpose. In short the building is to represent religion at Harvard.
There are others in the college who consider that the religious interests of the University would be better served if to the strictly religious elements there should be added the humane elements as represented by some of the more serious literary societies. These persons would provide in the new building for such societies as the O. K., the Signet and any others whose interests were of distinctly elevating character. In this way both of these elements would gain by contact. The literary men would find a healthy influence in the religious societies, and the latter would be broadened by contact with the literary men. By allying themselves with the humane interests of the university the religious societies would lose much of that seclusive character which prevents them from taking a firmer hold on the more liberal portion of the college. The aim of the proposers of the second plan is, then, to cherish the religious and the humane interests of the college side by side to the end that greater strength might come to each through contact with the other and that the work of the university might assume a broader character.
As we said above, there is little immediate chance that either of these plans will materialize. It is very doubtful if any financial aid could be got from the college, and it is a question whether either the appeal to a few enthusiasts which the supporters of the first plan would make, or the broader, though individually less effective appeal to which the supporters of the second plan would resort, - it is a question whether either of these appeals could be made sufficient to meet the requirements. However far distant the ultimate realization of either plan may be, the question deserves the most careful consideration of all interested in the furthering of the better life of the University.