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No less capable a critic of English literature than J. C. Squire recently wrote that the salvat on of American letters would consist in a return to character and an abandonment of the continuous satirical description of American mudnats and tenement houses. Perhaps American life might be better if just that were done. Instead of this continued Menchenistic harping upon the single string of defects of m lieu there might be the stronger tone of accomplished character development.
So it is with no little sincerity that one attacks such endeavors to satisfy the cry of panem of circenses as a recent development of Liberty's publicity department. Writing to various editors of various college newspapers the Executive Editor of Liberty hopes to get a synthetic, sympathetic critique of college morals with a no less heartwhole desire than the establishment of truth (vide Plato's Republic) as against opinion (vide Plato's Republic). Of course one might suspect that the Executive Editor had some less noble desire, some arriere pensee, such as answering that cry for bread and circuses. At all events, be he altruist or editor, the letter with its enclosed list of impertinent questions has been written. And concerning both letter and questions it must be suggested that the CRIMSON views both with disfavor."
Too much noise has resounded in the press rooms from typewriters pregnant with messages concerning the morals and luck of morals in the American college and university. The final supposedly deft, handling of such stupid trifling with misunderstood ideas is the symposium, so fundamentally truthful, accomplished by multiple lists of questions sent about the country to various and sundry editors of college papers. The list which Liberty has sent included such valuable, succinct, and apt interrogations as these:
1. "Has your paper conducted a campaign within the same period of years against any form of misconduct? It so please give us the details.
2. "Much gossip of the supposed lax conduct of college students has no doubt reached you. During the past two years has there been any noticeable increase in this gossip? Do you believe the gossip to be founded on fact? If not, how do you account for it?
3. "What proportion of the student's violate the prohibition law?
4. "Is liquor easy to get on or near the campus
5. "What proportion of the girls of your acquaintance will engage in petting parties?
6. "What proportion of the girls of your acquaintance will drink intoxicants? Of the latter number, what proportion buy intoxicants?
7. "Do you regard petting parties as injurious to the morals of either men or women?
8. "Is smoking general among women students of your acquaintance? Has a referendum been taken on the subject in your college, and if so, with what result?"
Stark Young, who is one of the few popular critics to dare remain at all in the humanistic tradition, has written in the current Yale Review an article on Realism in the modern theatre. Here he tries to show that there is, in addition to and more important than the the exterior reality, the internal truth, the truth most akin to the universal. Here is departing not one whit from Aristotelian precepts. The Executive Editor of Liberty might read Stark Young's article. It may be more easily obtained on Park Avenue than the Poetics. At all events, as the editor of a paper which is supposedly attempting to place some semblance of truth before the eyes of its probably sanguine readers, he should make some attempt to think things out, to get beyond the mere surface reality. Whether a man drinks or a girl smokes-may be good news stuff, especially if either is of the privileged class which is allowed four years at a college or university. It may even concern teachers of morals and preachers of good taste, though not necessarily. It does not vitally concern the American college. Who is best fitted to receive a college education? What is a college education? These are vital questions and ones which, in whatever way would be helpful, the college undergraduate, the faculty member, the administrator, should attempt to answer, should at least study. All the other may interest casual connoisseurs of the pornographic, those who must, though it be vicarious, have floridity in their lives. It cannot interest anyone who is sincerely interested in American education.
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