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Hygiene Professor Declares That Law Is Supported by Reports of Social Service Organizations


"No doctor who has gone out and worked among the poorer classes could ever vote for the modification of a law against intoxicating liquors," said Dr. Alfred Worcester yesterday in an interview to the CRIMSON on the question of National Prohibition.

This matter which has caused a flare-up of violent controversy during the past month, is of particular moment to Harvard students at this time with the Student Federation's college poll coming on Saturday.

"That is," Dr. Worcester then went on to say, "no member of the medical profession, unless he is a specialist who has not come in contact with the life of ordinary people, could be opposed to a law like the Volstead Act which prohibits the manufacture and sale of alcoholic drinks. A very good criterion of whether or not prohibition has had a beneficial influence among the workers of this country is the reports of Social Service organizations, which are unanimous in saying that the conditions they deal with are better since the prohibition law was enacted than they were before it.

Little Change at Harvard

"As far as Harvard is concerned, there has been practically no change either one way or the other as a result of prohibition. Students who want to drink can still get liquor almost as easily as they could before, and continue to do it. On the other hand drinking has certainly not increased in the last decade. I think we approximate the truth more nearly if we say that prohibition has not affected Harvard than if we try to demonstrate, its beneficial or disastrous results among the students here.

"Drinking has, however, been steadily decreasing during the course of the last 100 years. Fifty years ago drunkeness was not uncommon at regular class banquets, and the common meeting places of such groups as the boards of the college publications were the saloons. In 1818, 60 years farther back, the Corporation poured out hogsheads of rum to the students and townspeople free at Commencement time.

Change Not Due to Law

"The change which is evident between that day and this, however, did not occur suddenly a few years ago in consequence of the National Prohibition Law. It was rather a reflection of the gradual change in public sentiment which was taking place during the last half of the nineteenth century. When Cambridge voted to abolish licensed saloons a big step was taken in cutting down the drinking at Harvard.

"It is very unlikely that Americans could ever attain European moderation with a free sale of liquor allowed. It is also worthy of note that the idea of European moderation is a beautiful glossing over of the actual conditions. The state of English and German working families caused by drinking is often deplorable."

Dr. Worcester also said that he was not in favor of complete abstinence but that he thought a law which so obviously benefitted the great mass of the people should be rigorously observed. In support of his statement that the Prohibition Law was a distinctly helpful factor in American life Dr. Worcester said.

"A number of years ago my own town of Waltham used to vote 'yes' one year and 'no' the next on the dry question. The general degradation of the people was so much less in the dry years that no one could fail to observe it. And it seems only logical to suppose that if Prohibition were a decidedly good influence in Waltham it would also be throughout Massachusetts and the whole of the United States."

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