While every community of over three thousand persons must consider the problem of misdemeanors committed by a few of its members, Harvard has been extraordinarily unsuccessful in attempting to answer it. Following the precedent of all traditions, a curious growth has been nurtured by the Superintendent of Caretakers and has been allowed to envelop the intricate problem of student conduct. Administrative officials admit there is no logic in the plan and were considerably surprised to learn that it is impossible to find a set of rules governing the Yard Police.
There can be no argument with the proposition that Harvard must have some body of raying watchmen to protect University property and it is natural that it be placed in the same department with the janitors and goodies. The flaw in the system is that these watchmen have followed police practice and turned in suspects to their immediate superior; in this case, Mr. Apted. And there has been no consideration given to the obvious fact that an efficient head caretaker will not necessarily be a suitable person to handle student disciplinary problems.
The events of the last few weeks have made obvious the long apparent need for a reorganization that will remove Mr. Apted from all contact with the students since he lacks that sympathetic understanding which is essential in a good disciplinary officer. The College needs a man to whom students would talk as to a brother or a father; his office should be in University Hall, and he should have a seat on the Administrative Board.
While it would still be necessary for the Yard Police to quell any disturbance, their activity should cease immediately when it becomes apparent that students should be consulted about the causes of the trouble or the persons involved in it. The officers would merely take the bursars' cards or some other form of identification from every man who might be involved. These names would then be turned in to this disciplinary officer, not to the Superintendent of Caretakers, who would summons all the men and talk with them informally without keeping a record of the visit unless it was apparent that some disciplinary action was necessary.
This procedure should be followed in even such minor cases as illegal parking because antagonism is aroused under the present administration which is never overcome when cooperation is really needed. The members of Dunster House would have been more willing to reveal any information they might have had if they had not lost faith in Mr. Apted's unpolished tactics in other instances.
The College and the students need an expert to handle this situation; a man who would be respected as such on every occasion. The removal of Mr. Apted from his present position of supervision over student conduct and the appointment of a new disciplinary officer is the obvious way to establish student respect for University law enforcement agencies.