Why this sudden heat? Why this blazing and kindling of fires at all points of vantage against the Business School? Why this lumbering and stubborn defense? Why, indeed, if it is not because the conclusion is ever becoming clearer and more bitter that if left to drift through courses, through rules and regulations, through requirements for a degree the ordinary student even in the College becomes labeled and earmarked as one concentrating in economics, or government or English, or Romance languages, or physics and correspondingly narrow-minded? The idea of concentration is a splendid one; but it tends to produce economists and physicists rather than liberally educated gentlemen.
In European universities the stress of extra-curriculum activities is absent. There students have time to eat, to talk, to think. They have leisure enough to travel a bit and to read a little in fields quite outside their own particular course of study. Harvard was like that once. Emerson did little reading for his classes, but much for himself; and Roosevelt, too, found time to reflect and write. The Harvard College of today is far different. Men no longer have time to linger over meals, to exchange ideas, and so to broaden their intellectual horizons. The passing of Memorial Hall more than any other single event showed doubters that the old Harvard with its easy cultural life is dead.
Some official recognition of this fact is necessary. A place must be made in the academic schedule for a survey of those fields in which the student finds a passing interest. An opportunity must be given him for contact with ideas which are utterly foreign to his field of concentration "Distribution" will not satisfy the need. It is arbitrary and incomplete. Nor can the need be met through selection of courses. In view of divisional examinations and his own scholastic standing a student can not spread his courses as he would like.
One obvious solution suggests itself and one that can be made immensely helpful and stimulating. In the first place assign this work of cultural stimulus to the tutors. The tutorial system is now firmly established and could well dispose of this task. Even now the first years of work under the system have little bearing on the divisional exams. In the second place, have the tutorial chairmen of all departments and representatives of the science departments compile a general bibliography of the best books, elementary and advanced, dealing with each branch of human knowledge; and by a few descriptive words aid the student in selecting those volumes which appeal to his present interest. Today the average student concentrating in government, for example, may have but the vaguest idea as to what writings are best in the fields of music, or astronomy, or art. With such a bibliography printed in a convenient pamphlet form that huge bulk Widener would at once become what it now is only to the exceptional--a treasure trove of knowledge and a mine of stimulating ideas.
In his last report President Lowell suggested that "scholars who like to plant their chairs in the doorways should be encouraged to do so." Why not encourage and definitely aid even students to place their chairs in the doorways? Why not recognize the disappearance of the old cultural stimuli and provide for new? It is not a difficult matter, but it rests entirely in the hands of the academic administration.