On the morning of a Yale football game one professor, who conducted a large course and unfortunately felt it necessary to hold a meeting as usual, counted the number of men actually in attendance and later compared his figure with the monitor's report. Theoretically, that is monetarily, the graph curve rose to twice the height of the curve of actual count.
That, in fact, was an exceptional case.
But monitors are human, and they do not find it easy to become mechanical parts of a system. They have sleepy friends, lazy friends, probation friends and, at times, friends who will relieve them of their work. It is not very pleasant to be continually on guard to see that unpopular rules are enforced; to be unsympathetic with a pleading friend, or to turn a deaf ear to well-constructed tales of woe. But the man who volunteers for the job knows in advance what he may expect; his reward, considering how little effort is required, is generous. The least that he can give in return is accuracy and justice.
At present, it is evident that monitorial ideas of honor are dubious. Justice, apparently, doesn't hold between friends. The monitor has no supervisor but his conscience; and even a New England conscience can be pacified by a few arguments of "What difference does it make?" Perhaps the answer, in individual cases, is "little"; but the net result is to throw the whole system into disrepute, and make respect for the rule unknown.
The machinery for taking attendance is not at fault. The easy-going monitor and the student who takes advantage of his friendship are simply an unavoidable outgrowth of the whole system. Their attitude cannot be changed by any external means. But when the question of voluntary attendance comes up for consideration, the shortcomings of the monitorial system are likely to be an argument in its favor.