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Again the Reading Period has been pronounced an official success, this time from the medical point of view. In support of the thesis that the health of the undergraduate body had been better during the pre-examination respite the Department of Hygiene cites the figures for excused absences during January and May 1928. Upper-classmen show the most remarkable improvement, while the first-year men, who come under the influence of the Reading Period only in exceptional cases, have been little less sickly than during the days before the innovation.
Certain other statistics hardly lead to such deductions. Reports of the Stillman Infirmary show no decline during these months; in fact the average during January 1929 was 52 men per day as contrasted with an average for all of last year of a little over 20. Dr. Worcester's figures for sickness are based entirely on the number of men excused by the medical authorities. His conclusion apparently overlooks the rather obvious fact that students will not come for excuses when they have no classes.
In spite of its drawbacks the Reading Period has probably been of benefit to student scholarship in many respects. Nevertheless there is no justification for construing all statistics into a blanket endorsement. The report has no weight in estimating the value of the Reading Period, since it says no more than that when classes are few excuses are few. Such obvious attempts at whitewash can hardly do more than prejudice an innovation which deserves careful study during a period of experimentation.
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