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In the Harvard Alumni Bulletin Mr. Corliss Lamont reports and deplores a fact of undergraduate life at Harvard which is also, probably, a fact in many other colleges. The men from private schools control most of the undergraduate activities. The men from the public schools are at the head only in study and scholarship, the main purpose, aside from the ecclesastical object of the more ancient foundations which our wise and pious ancestors and their descendants established and endowed.
Mr. Lamont believes that the private school man, usually more forehanded than the public school man, "Overdoes "athletics, the social life, loafing and "other extra-curriculum activities." He ought to study more. The public school man needs and ought to have a reasonable part in the "extra-curriculum," the so important little businesses and pleasures, no doubt. Many students haven't the time; many are indifferent to all the bustle of their classmates. Apart from pecuniary compulsion or physical inefficiency, everybody does what he wants. A great modern college is a heterogeneous, cosmopolitan community which can't be made over into a village improvement society. Here is a "bunch" of undergraduates "going in for" settlement work, teaching night schools, deeply interested in their religious societies. There is another "bunch" deep in the psychology of poker. Here is a youth burning the midnight electric light over Plato--in the Loeb Classical Library. There is "a little group of serious thinkers," hot for communism. In a few years they will be selling boots and shoes, or something equally as harmless.
After all, individualism, the marked absence of standardization, is the "note" of Harvard. Customs and "values" may change. The undergraduate may come to venerate a Phi Beta Kappa key as much as his father venerates his safe deposit or even his wine-cellar key. Mr. Lamont looks forward to the culminat hour when "a member of the Phi Beta "Kappa Society is more honored among "all men than a member of the victorious football eleven." On that day what a business the Boston department stores will be doing in ascension robes!
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