"We would rather have only twenty-five good earnest workers than a hundred half-hearted martyr volunteers."
This sentence, which occurs in the statement of the President, is the most stimulating idea that has appeared in a Phillips Brooks House report in many moons. It is embodied again in the statement by the chairman of the Social Service Committee, and is a working motto for all college philanthropic institutions that cannot be too warmly commended.
Too often in the past mere numbers have been the aim of those in charge of the University's philanthropies. Unconsciously proving that, though figures do not lie, liars will figure, they have assumed that because four hundred men in September indicate their willingness to do social work, the same four hundred are still faithfully at their task in May which as many a settlement house head knows to his cost is a theory absolutely unsupported by known facts. In insisting on quality at the sacrifice of quantity, the Social Service secretary has done that for which the present generation of professional workers, who have long waged their polite struggle against the dilettantism of college volunteers, will rise up and call him blessed.
But the work of the Social Service Committee, being the part of Phillips Brooks House which holds the warmest place in the regard of the University, must be more than a mere process of weeding the sheep from the goats. When this has been done, some hundreds of men, rather less than more, are left who have a sincere interest in the work in which they are about to engage. From the earliest possible moment, this initial interest must be stimulated, sustained, and strengthened, in order that the untried worker may survive the discouragements which are inevitably his first portion. If by means of personal conferences, group discussions, and talks by recognized authorities continued through out the year, the Social Service Committee can guarantee faithful, honest work to the institutions with which it cooperates, the prevalent unfortunate impression of collegiate triflers will appreciably diminish, and the twin ideals of service and civic responsibility will have an opportunity at least of rising to the place which they deserve to hold in undergraduate thought.