Shorn of all power and responsibility the Assistant Deans of University Hall carry on the work of specialized clerks whose principal function is to read the law (already prescribed in no uncertain terms) to recalcitrant offenders. For the most part, eminently fitted to help students through the everyday, general problems of college life they have no power to give such aid if they felt so inclined.
These deans are the only members of the administration who have direct and regular contact with students. They are recent graduates of the college and well acquainted with the problems that beset the average man. Yet what student now would consult his dean if he was dissatisfied with his tutor? Or if he felt a complete change of environment was needed, but, owing to ironclad regulations, could not leave his House? This kind of problem, quite apart from scholastic ones, is ruining the careers of many students.
Only by request, usually, does the student talk with his dean. The subject is inevitably probation. After a brief talk some decision is tentatively reached. Tentatively, because the final decision must be made by the Administrative Board, of which the minor dean is not a member. Very often the Board reverses the dean's decision. Those who are in the best position to know the individual case are only allowed to make their report in the form of writing.
No wonder, when his regular interviews are as useless as this, that the student does not think of going to his dean for advice which he is, of all others, ablest to give. All this is a result of treating intelligent men like cogs in a communist bureaucracy.
Immediate emancipation of the deans is the only rational solution to a problem University officials have repeatedly ignored. As a beginning, the Assistant Deans should become members of the Administrative Board. But this must be only a start towards placing the deans in a position, vested with responsibility and power, in which they can use intelligent discretion and their own ideas.
In their present position they might be replaced by automatons trained to reproduce in speech the dicta of their masters. If the positions are worthy of capable, industrious, and intelligent men, then let those who are carefully chosen to fill them exercise some of the virtues for which they are presumably selected. A government of men is infinitely superior to one of laws.