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When the Class of 1940 enters Harvard College this fall the Class of 1937 will be rounding out the last of its four years under the House Plan. The Senior Class of this year will hold the distinction of having been the third class to go through Harvard under the House Plan.
Five years ago this fall Harvard opened its new and magnificent set of Houses for the upperclassmen of the College and took the Yard from the Senior Class to hand it over to the Freshmen. At the time, it was done with fear and trembling and even Copey, Harvard's beloved Charles Townsend Copeland, looked, up on the invasion of the first-year class as the approach of doom. For with 1,000 lusty throats, as yet unmodulated by the traditions of the College, to bellow "Reinhart" the prospect was not too pleasant.
Freshmen in Yard
But for five years now, the Freshman Class has occupied the Yard and have done it generally pretty well. Noise and confusion have molested the precincts of the Yard at times to be sure, but the promised bedlam failed to materialize.
The four years of college have been divided under the House Plan into two distinct periods. Harvard is perhaps unique among colleges in the extent to which the Freshman year is set apart as a unit. Besides living together in the Yard, the first-year men have their own eating and recreational center in the Union, now turned over to their exclusive use. In athletics there is a complete set-up of Freshman teams, while the intramural sports are organized on a dormitory basis corresponding to the inter-House program of the upper classes.
On the other hand there exist at Harvard none of the special caps or paraphernalia which are used to distinguish Freshmen at some institutions of learning. Harvard as the Freshmen will soon find, is the very antithesis of the "collegiatism" and rah-rah which in the minds of Harvard men seem to be associated with the term "middle-western."
Harvard imposes few restrictions on the liberty of the student. The requirements of attendance at classes, now existing for Freshmen only, are very liberal so long as the student remains in good standing; there is no compulsory chapel--no ban on automobiles; no restrictions on his comings and goings.
In many respects the Union, situated on Quiney Street just outside of the Yard, is the social center of first-year life. Under one roof are the dining hall, common rooms, game rooms, and two libraries, one containing a fine collection of books for general reading, the other books required in History 1 and Government 1, two of the larger Freshman courses. It is in the Union that most of the social events of the Freshman year take place: tea dances after one or more of the football games in the fall, smokers, with vaudeville or other entertainment, the Freshman Jubilee in the spring, series of lectures, and various other gatherings.
Someone might well ask the question: What voice have Freshman in the affairs of the Union or their class? The answer is that the Class is represented by the Freshman Union Committee, composed of first-year men selected on the basis of dormitory representation by the deans and proctors. Its duty is to co-operate with the graduate secretary of the Union in managing the affairs of the Union and of the class. The names of the men chosen to make up the Freshman Union Committee will be announced in the CRIMSON soon after College opens in the fall.
The regular Class Officers are elected along with the officers of the upper classes, in January. These officers have a number of duties to perform in connection with the Jubilee, smokers and so forth and are considerably more active than the now defunct Sophomore and Junior Class Officers once were.
When the Houses went into operation the center of Harvard life for the upper-classmen shifted unmistakably from the Yard to the region beside the Charles. Five of the Houses, Eliot, Kirkland, Lowell, Winthrop and Leverett, are grouped fairly close together in one section, while Dunster is located farther down the river and Adams on the old Gold Coast on Mt. Auburn Street. Between the Yard and the Houses, in the vicinity of Mt. Auburn Street, are located also the New Athletic Building, most of the clubs and the officers of the CRIMSON, Lampoon and Advocate.
Freshmen are excluded from the Houses because of the intimate relation existing between the House Plan and the tutorial system. The real difference in the four-year course comes at the end of the Freshman year at Harvard instead of a year later as in many colleges. By the beginning of his Sophomore year the student is expected to be ready to do work of university grade and to work under a tutor.
At this time, therefore, he applies for admission to one of the Houses. Each House is designed to be a cross-section of the College geographically, academically and socially. A man having a special reason for entering a certain House can say so in his application.
Each Sophomore is assigned a tutor in the field of concentration he has elected, usually to a tutor attached to his own House. Of the tutorial staff of each House about 10 are resident in the House and the rest have temporary studies there. The student meets his tutor about once a week, eats with him occasionally, and is expected, in one way or another to absorb a good deal of learning and to benefit from the intimate intellectual contacts. At the same time every upperclassman carries a regular schedule of courses, expect that men out for honors can secure a reduction in the number during their Senior year.
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