Will the New Freshman Dormitories Destroy Individualism?

The leading article of the February Monthly is a well-written "Comment" on "Freshman Dormitories" by Charles Merrill Rogers, Jr. He fears that they may substitute a gregarious vulgarity for that individualism which has become the consious ideal at Harvard. That individualism should be fostered at Harvard is, I think, generally agreed. But that his fears are well-grounded is not so clear. Is the present system, or lack of system, as soundly individualizing as it might be? Individualism does not, I take it, mean isolation, but rather the personal independence that comes from thoughtfulness and breadth of interest. There is reason to believe that this sort of individualism is not promoted by the amusements of Boston, or by the formation of preparatory school cliques, or by association with men of like income or of like social status past and prospective. On the other hand it may be promoted by a greater cultivation of the human resources contained within a single class. There is certainly more to be learned from an unlike Freshman than from a like Senior.

But after all the individualism which we all desire to conserve and promote is primarily a matter of intellectual vigor.

Individualism has increased at Princeton since the introduction of the preceptorial system, and has not been retarded by the formation of Freshman and Sophomore Commons. The fraternity life of the smaller New England colleges has divided men "laterally" rather than "horizontally," but with little effect upon the degree of the individualism. The individualism of Harvard has been due to the encouragement of scholarship in its faculty, to the freedom of discussion, to the liveliness, tolerance and diversity of its intellectual life. The Freshman dormitories may well be made to afford a means by which these influences shall be made more pervasive and effectual.

Of the balance of the number there is little to be said. Mr. Jacobs's "Charity" is the best of several indifferent short stories, and Mr. Mitchell's "Island of Death" enjoys a similar distinction among the poems. Both the stories and the verse are creditable "literary" exercises.