Not unfamiliar to this column is the matter of telephones for undergraduates. A mild request for administrative consideration of this question has appeared here at least once each year. The same arguments have been reiterated each time, and then the matter has been dropped for another year.
At last we have more than more hypothetical arguments at our disposal. At last we are in possession of facts which cannot be ignored or dismissed as untrue.
Early this week the "News" printed a statement by Dean Mendell of the Faculty's objections to "the general use of telephones in College rooms." This statement had the merits of clarity and directness. No one, having read it, could doubt the Faculty's position on the matter, nor be ignorant of the reasons for their attitude.
Today we print an answer to the objections voiced by the Dean. It is an answer which is final and conclusive because it is based on conditions as they exist at Harvard, where slightly more than half of the college rooms are equipped with telephones. All more arguments wither and die in the face of contradictory facts.
It is needless to enlarge on the statements of the industrious CRIMSON editor. The new buildings here are wired for telephones, and there is no possible ground for supposing that their installation at Yale would result in conditions any different from those described at Harvard.
The expense of a telephone is not great. For three dollars a party-line 'phone can be had, on which the number of local calls is unlimited. There is an installation charge of $3.50. Thus, if the cost is shared with his roommate, an undergraduate can enjoy a 'phone by paying approximately fifteen dollars a year. This is not much higher than the subscription price of a daily newspaper.
There are obviously some men who would be unable or unwilling to pay this sum. No one would be under compulsion to have a telephone. If the University limited the amount of money to be spent by its members on weekends or fraternities or clothes, the argument against telephones as an expensive luxury would be valid. Since, however, each undergraduate spends for "luxuries" as much or as little money as he pleases, there is no reason for denying him at least permission to have a telephone if he wants one. That a great majority of the members of the University do want them cannot be denied.
To suppose that an individual's friends would make numerous long-distance calls and then neglect to pay for them is a cynical attitude indeed. It is not much different from supposing that his friends would make a practice of cheating him at cards.
We have availed ourselves of the rather mean stratagem of printing the Dean's statement first, and allowing the opposition the last say. For this we apologize. However, it seems to us that the facts as stated justify our actions.
It is useless to try by arbitrary decree to check the progress of mechanical civilization. Time, as we so often hear, marches on. It is safe to say that telephones will some day be allowed at Yale. There is no reason why permission should should not be granted at once.