The Path to Public Service at SEAS


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Now that the smoke, thunder, and hard-feeling caused by the reorganization plans for the Student Council has calmed down and the new constitution is on the way to being adopted, it is possible to make a sane estimate of the position which the Council should hold in Harvard College.

The chief fact which has been brought out by the reorganization is that the Council could never, in a college characterised by the indifference and individualism which are found in Cambridge, hope to have direct disciplinary control over individual students. Any honor system common in more collegiate institutions would be odious and unpopular here. The old constitution included powers designed to give Council members such powers, and it is proper that they should have been removed.

The Council can win itself respect and fulfill its function only by carefully considered, accurate work in raising the general intellectual standard in bringing before the College officials expressions of undergraduate opinion in an effort better to adapt the College to the student's needs, and in managing its administrative functions. Students at Harvard will recognize honest effort and pains-taking labor, not absolutism.

The element of publicity is important from the students' point of view; future councils must take care to keep their electorate well informed. It must be recognized that just as Congressmen in Washington make speeches so that they can be printed in the Record and sent to the home folks, so Council members must prove to their classmates that they are active and in the picture.

Lastly, the new provision allowing dead wood to be thrown out of the Council by a vote of the members makes it possible for the body to keep itself vital. It is to be hoped that this power will be used, or that the threat of its use will keep men on their toes. If future Councils will act in some such way as this, the reform effort will have more than justified the misunderstanding and criticism it has aroused.

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