The good common sense of Mr. Allen's article in the independent is its great merit. No one can read it without acknowledging that "rather imposing mountains" have been made "out of molehills"; that Harvard still has a rather substantial and progressive existence, and that there is some basis for a non-pessimistic view of the future. His conclusion that spirited discussion is, as a matter of fact, an aid toward achievement is in agreeable harmony with his general tenor of reasonableness.
More significant than the character of the article, however, is the fact that it appeared. It is the first public defense of the present administration. It may or may not have been published with the knowledge of the officers, but it is at least the first time that the dead silence hanging over University Hall has been broken. To the fire of criticism and comment which has been trained upon the administration there has hitherto been no return. Harsh critics have said that this silence implied guilt, or if not guilt, at least an arrogant contemptuousness. Whether the return fire is directed from within or not, it is well that this provoking silence is ended.
Everybody has been more or less conscious that a complete knowledge of the affairs of the University would silence a host of worried critics. This knowledge has never been forthcoming. Neither alumni nor student body has been taken into the confidence of the administration. Mr. Allen writes that the present wave of criticism is "mainly a symptom of general irritation," and in the next sentence unconsciously indicates the cause. A loyal graduate, he says, complained "about the need of changing the policy of a certain department, and was relieved to hear that it had already been changed two years ago!" Obviously, if there had been a proper announcement of the change, the loyal graduate would have felt perfectly at ease about the matter two years before.
"If the alumni would only look into the facts before throwing brickbats," exhorts Mr. Allen; ah! indeed, but from whom are they going to get the facts? Everybody can not be connected officially with the University. It is clearly in the hands of the administration to make these facts avoilabel: and hitherto, interested observers have looked in vain for them, even in the President's Report. The result has been a foolish. Irritating situation, which Mr. Allen's article helps to relieve. Give all who are concerned the same information to which Mr. Allen had access, and all will reach his sane and reasonable conclusions. If his article is sponsored by University officials, it is the welcome sign of a new era of confidence and sympathy; if not, it indicates to them the most effective means of reaching a true understanding among alumni, students, and the administration. Spirited discussion based on guesses, leads to ire and ill will; on facts to ever nobler achievement.