As the Administrative Board will discuss measures to curb excessive drinking this afternoon, the Crimson here attempts to explain the necessity for such action and to suggest along what lines a solution should proceed.
Drinking is a matter of personal conduct and matters of personal conduct at Harvard are determined by each student. Yet educated men who possess complete freedom in their actions must accept accompanying responsibilities. When they exercise their right to drink freely, they are not entitled to discomfort others, to endanger lives unnecessarily, or to create public disturbance which discredits the College. Should they disregard these obligations, they must take the consequences of their failure.
Cases such as the Dunster House assault and the Winthrop House tragedy are unanswerable indications of such a failure. Intoxication at football and hockey games has produced disturbances which reflect on Harvard.
Although the only lasting solution lies in a changed attitude on the part of students themselves, the present situation does not offer any hope that the initiative will come from them. Drinking has become such an integral part of college life that its abuses are tolerated. With the Dunster House assault case fresh in everyone's mind, for instance, there was just as much, if not more, drinking after the Yale game.
Certain aspects of college life encourage hard drinking, and to many men drinking is just as much an activity as membership on an athletic team. The ordinary man is expected to drink himself under the table at least once, whether it be an initiation, a reunion, or some sort of party. An intelligent understanding of the problem is not helped by graduates who become drunk at football games and club dinners. We believe that students will not, and are as a practical matter, unable to change the faults of this situation.
As a result, the College must take the initiative. Any effort to prohibit drinking, however, must be avoided for such a policy would not only destroy the liberalism which Harvard fosters but would also undermine its prestige with its students. Drinking in all its forms must be permitted.
The College should launch its attack at failures to accept responsibility. When any undergraduate makes a spectacle of himself at public college functions, creates unnecessary disturbances, or endangers lives, he should be subjected to immediate disciplinary action. While basic freedom would be preserved, a man would learn that he must control himself.
At present, official facilities are inadequate for dealing ably with such a solution. A man with human understanding, who possesses the necessary time is urgently needed. Consequently, we favor the appointment of a new administrative officer whose general functions are described in the next editorial, but whose relation to the present problem will be discussed here.
He would interview all students reported for abuses and pass judgment on their cases with Administrative Board approval. Two problems would confront him. First, he would have to tolerate intoxication which has no public consequences. Secondly, he would have to determine when a man is damagingly drunk. For this purpose he would have to possess accurate testimony and sufficient knowledge of a man's previous record so that he can use intelligently the weapons of warning, probation, and dismissal.
To operate effectively, he must organize the present forces, such as the Yard Police, proctors, and members of the Faculty, to assist him. Their job would be to report students who were discrediting the College in public or who were raising such disturbances in private that they were attracting public attention.
If the right man were found, he would succeed in creating an environment which would encourage a changed undergraduate attitude. By supporting drinking and attacking only its abuses, no man could sincerely dispute him. Any such solution which offers the student body the factors conducive to a more intelligent understanding of the liquor question will, we think, receive the full support of the majority of the student body.