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Columbia Wakens


In Thoreau's little hut by Walden Pond he treasured a single ornament- a fine specimen of granite, cut and polished by himself. To enjoy its delicate markings, Thoreau had to dust the stone every day. At length he decided that the time spent in polishing the little block was out of all proportion to its value; it was needlessly cluttering his life. So one day pitched it into the middle of the pond.

The ripples made by that stone as it struck Walden's placid surface were the first irradiations of an idea that has not yet reached Columbia College. The strange and beautiful idea of living one's life for its own sake-of doing only the things one likes to do, and shunning the needless complexity of organized relations-is so foreign to these halls that one might more trustingly hope for privacy on a merry go-round than seek it on Morningside Heights. . . . Our day is a restless scrimmage, a succession, of caucuses, conferences. luncheons, public appearances and group entertainments. "Activity" and "Duty" are the words most frequently in our months; and he is first in the performance of his duty whose arms, legs and tongue are wagging with the greatest activity. For brains we have substituted foot-work, and the wear and tear of college life comes not on our intellects but on our rubber heels.

That life is a duty, that it should be spent in the service of college is an example of the inverted logic that stamps our campus thought. In reality, college should serve us; it should be an instrument in our lives, we should be its masters and the governors of its destiny. But instead we have become the slaves of the machine; we run hither and thither in agony of futile haste; we compete where no end is served and no result achieved; we sweat over unloved tasks and neglect the true business of life; we erect and execute useless schemes, multiplying the worries of life, cluttering our days with rubbish, blasting Leisure and wasting our strength on this false and misbegotten ideal of "College Spirit." Columbia "Varsity."

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