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The University of colleges



The wisdom of returning Rhodes scholars is evident in the proposal put forth by the Harvard Student Council to organize the undergraduate body into residential groups analogous to the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. When Woodlow Wilson undertook a similar reform at Princeton he failed for lack of understanding of the English universities--perhaps also of the American undergraduate. His theory was rigidly "democratic." In each "quad" there were to be so man" rich men, so many poor men; so many "prep-school" men and so many men from public school; so many Northerners, Southerners, Westerners. As if this leveling were not sufficient, the "aristocratic" upper-class eating clubs were to be abolished. That was the rock on which he split. Bad as is the club or fraternity system in all American universities--with its overemphasized and largely unjust distinction between the ins and the outs the great body of graduates knew that it was more wisely controlled at Princeton then elsewhere and that at worst it was a time-honored institution.

At Harvard the Student Council has learned that there is room in the undergraduate body for both "college" or "quad" and the clubs that the two are complementary and not antagonistic. As Oom Paul Kruzer used to say, one hand washes the other. In a concentrated community of 250 to 300 sophomores, juniors, and seniors each member should copie into intimate contacts with all: if he fails to do so, the fault is presumably his own. At Oxford there are casual but inevitably daily meetings over tea in the common--room and at dinner in Hallson all sorts of college athletic teams, college literary, debating and "wine" clubs. In each college is a resident "Head" and a corps of tutors whose function is not so much disciplinary as humanly helpful and inspiring. At work or at play, the college is an organism self-contained and efficient. Admittedly its horizon is narrow. A goodly proportion of undergraduates will seek band find contacts with the larger life of the university. Just as an athlete of parts "makes" a university team and a student of parts the Phi Beta Kappa, so a man with the gift of popularity makes a university club. But in his daily life each remains a member of the college and so brings back to it news and inspiration from the larger world without. On the one hand the college develops to the utmost every individual; on the other the university, through athlete and club war give; character and tone to the college. Where every one has his chance of success and is living his life to the utmost, the distinction between ins and outs of the social clubs loses its invidiousness, becoming a merely normal expression of human differences.

Though the English universities afford a fruitful example, the intention is not to imitate them, being rather to develop more fully our own undergraduate life. The project could be equally well described as a combination of the virtues of the American small college and the American university. It is democratic in that it gives every young man his chance in that it gives full scope to men of marked abilities, it is something which all must desire democracy to be. Though the present movement at Harvard is sponsored by undergraduates, it has long been contemplated by a group of graduates and notably by President Lowell. New York Times, April 7.

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