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(Ed. Note--The Crimson does not necessarily endorse opinions expressed in printed communications. No attention will be safe to anonymous letters and only under special conditions, at the request of the writer, will names be with-held.)
To the Editor of the CRIMSON:
In the discussions of the proposed House Plan no one seems to have thought it worth while to give any attention to that feature of the plan which proposes to exclude the Freshmen from the advantages of the new system. I don't know whether that is because no one loves a Freshman anyway, or merely because no one wastes much thought on Freshmen, but I believe so strongly that a grave mistake will be made if the Freshmen are not included in the House organizations that I cannot refrain from registering my protest.
At present, under conditions which it seems to me are inherent to the segregation of the class, the first year men are under the control of a group of men who, except for the Freshman deans, have other interests which must come ahead of the Freshmen's welfare. They are tutors, or instructors, or graduates students, or professors first, and advisers to the Freshmen second. So long as a Freshman is not involved in disciplinary or scholastic difficulties they have no reason even for making his acquaintance.
Consider, by way of contrast, what would be the attitude of the House Masters towards the Freshmen if the first year men were assigned directly to the Houses. They would be vitally interested, each year, in their new material, and in moulding it after they got it, because they will not be something else first and House Masters second, but they will be House Masters first, last, and all the time. Their reputations are going to depend on the records made in all the fields of college activity, by the students under their care. It will be of immense importance to each House Master, therefore, to know the origin, the character and the abilities of his new Freshmen before they come to him, so that he and his instructors may advise them wisely, and help them make the most of their own possibilities. If a house has a real esprit de corps, the upper-classmen will share this interest in the new men, and will be of immense assistance in the process of getting the Freshmen adjusted to their new surroundings. In other words, the proverbial chasm between school and college will be bridged at last.
Space does not permit the mention of other very important advantages to the Freshmen which would be secured by abandoning their segregation. I should like, however, to suggest an advantage to the administrative authorities which is well worth their consideration. Every one recognizes that under the plan as at present proposed, the problem of the assignment of the Sophomores to the several houses is going to present many serious difficulties. The authorities indulge in glittering generalities, and profess to feel sanguine of its solution, but underneath the surface they must be really worried over the prospect of an annual chorus of complaint from the host of Sophomores whose first choice of a house must be turned down. That whole difficulty would disappear at once if it is the Freshmen, not the Sophomores, who are being assigned to the Houses. Freshmen, till they have matriculated, have no rights at all. They will go to the Houses to which they are assigned, and they will accept the assignment almost as readily as they now accept the assignment of rooms in the Freshman Halls.
My profession leads me, naturally, to take more interest in the welfare of the Freshmen at Harvard than in the fortunes of the other classes, but I cannot help thinking that if one class is not to live in the Houses the Seniors would get more out of a year's experience together as a class unit than the Freshmen do. They are old enough to desire a little broadening of their social horizons, they know the ropes; they no longer need advice and guidance; and they are on the eve of leaving the college as a class, facing a future where for the rest of their lives class unity and a consciousness of their identity with their class will be of some value to them.
If only three of the four classes are to be domiciled in the new Houses, I therefore advocate excluding not the Freshmen but the Seniors. Very truly yours, Frederick Winsor, Head Master, Middlesex School.
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