If Mr. Lamont has not yet "with a new song's measure" trampled "a kingdom down," he has at least qualified as one of those "movers and shakers" of whom O'Shaughnessy sings. Since the publication of his recent article in the Advocate, there has been a flood of discussion and criticism which has served the useful purpose of bringing some very vital questions into the public eye. Mr. Wesson is the latest to enter the controversial lists with a short essay in the current Gad-Fly, aiming to show that there are four distinct groups at Harvard and not two as Mr. Lamont argued.
Without condemning Mr. Wesson's system of grouping, there is room for criticism on the ground that he has given undue attention to the importance of social divisions just as Mr. Lamont may perhaps have over-stressed the importance of the school background. Without a doubt both these phenomena are of the greatest importance, but after all they are merely different symptoms of the same general situation. The possibility of dividing up Harvard into small social groups and of discovering the precise school affiliations of each group is infinite.
All this is profitable since it is provocative of general discussion. But the essential problem remains--the problem of Harvard's extreme heterogeneity--a diversity which has created a College of two (or as Mr. Wesson prefers) four groups, all more or less mutually-exclusive and all contemptuous of each other's accomplishments. Academically bound to an educational system which smacks of the idea of mass production and offers no unifying force. Harvard undergraduates have formed distinct and exclusive groups among which they hesitate to intermingle for fear, perhaps, of losing caste.
Much of this is as it should be, for it is nothing else but that far-famed individualism of which Harvard is so justly proud. No Harvard man would accept with equanimity the dull uniformity characteristic of some educational institutions. But individualism has been carried too far and has become not the right to maintain one's own ideas and customs among many but the habit of remaining oblivious to most other points of view and contemptuous of those that are known. The lump has become too great for the leaven.
The simile suggests one cause of the trouble. When the enrollment of the Freshman Class increases within three years by almost 50 per cent, when the size and heterogeneity of classes generally increases beyond all previous experience, the development of exclusive groups is sure to be furthered. The question of size does not stand alone; connected with it is the general impersonal educational method and perhaps the dormitory system. But the question of size is in the front rank. Last year Harvard decided wisely enough that it would not discriminate in admission on the grounds of race or religion. But this solved only one aspect of the problem and the University must still face the question of limiting enrollment (more than it is by the existing scholarship requirements) on some scientific and equitable basis.