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The clipping from the editorial page of the New York Herald Tribune that appears in another column is an excellent criticism of a type of writing that magazine readers have grown familiar with in recent years. Colleges and college students have been diagnosed as suffering from one disease after another, and where commercialism is now the sword hanging over their heads it is not so many years since football overemphasis occupied the same position. Sensationalism when it deals with the universities becomes dignified to critical analysis and holds prominent position on the title pages of publications of the highest rank.
That it is sensationalism seems to anyone at all familiar with the facts too obvious to need proof. The picture Mr. Pringle draws of the Yale man is only slightly less amusing to a Harvard undergraduate than the similar caricatures of himself that he may have been surprised to find are taken seriously by people who ought to know better. And yet it is a strange fact that while no one would believe such tales about clerks or office boys, for the collegian there are scarcely any bounds of credibility.
The answer is probably to be found in the unique character of college life. The conception of an existence at once free from financial responsibility and separated from family ties is far from generally the case in any college; yet there is sufficient element of truth to give it a glamor that sets it apart from the more usual way of living. It follows that the same interest in the unfamiliar and mysterious that gives the tabloids their circulation will, when applied to another field, produce equally distorted results. The stenographer who devours the latest love-nest scandal and the matron who shudders at the drinking-orgy reports from the campuses in her magazine are sisters under the skin in sharing a universal tendency of present-day society. As long as it continues, the colleges will have to pay the penalty of public ignorance combined with curiosity.
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