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Three years ago the Class of 1914 decided that it would have a Freshman class button, but the Class of 1911 nipped the decision in the bud by claiming class buttons as a Senior prerogative. About three days ago the class of 1916 decided to have a Sophomore class button. If the suddenness of the decision is a fair measure of its rate of consummation, there is danger that a protest will be too late. But, trusting that the project has been delayed over Sunday, the CRIMSON wishes to state certain arguments against it.
In the first place, if Sophomores are to have buttons, there is every reason why Juniors and Freshmen, too, should have them. Then, with everyone running about with a class emblem in his lapel, the useful simplicity of the present distinction of the class button will give way to bewildering and fruitless intricacy. Fancy the effectiveness of class buttons when they require more than a mere glance to be distinguished.
In the second place, class buttons, as they now exist and whatever may be said to the contrary, remain a Senior prerogative. Harvard has few class customs; in fact, Senior gowns and buttons and the Junior Dance are the only ones that persist. If Sophomores feel that they must add to these customs, they should not make an addition that will be immediately offset by a subtraction.
In the third place, though the Sophomore Class deserves credit for its intention in authorizing class buttons, it should not deceive itself into thinking that they will effectually democratize it. There is a saying that nothing is democratic unless it democs, and experience has shown that class buttons among Seniors seldom democ. That is, Seniors as a rule do not make acquaintances on the strength of their buttons alone. The buttons serve only one purpose well, and that is of uniting the class by the sort of vague ties of tradition. And just as it is too late for Seniors to win democracy with class buttons, so, to an almost equal extent, is it too late for Sophomores. After the Freshman year, when friendships form rapidly and easily, class buttons can do little for class democracy. In that year, they would be of real value, but even then, they should not be allowed to infringe on their Senior cousins.
And finally, action such as was taken by 1916 Friday night should always be preceded by the sanction or subject to the reviewal of the Student Council. If that body is here for anything, it is to govern matters which deeply concern the undergraduates, but are not of commanding interest to the Faculty.
If Sophomores are determined, as they should be, to find some means of encouraging democracy among themselves, they should first consider whether or not the means they have chosen would not defeat their purpose by flooding the market. Then they should consult the Senior Class and the Student Council. If the argument for buttons is thus quashed, they may still find means to carry their intentions into effect without usurping an existing scheme.
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