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Appearing before the Associated Harvard Clubs meeting yesterday, three undergraduates, Rendigs T. Fels '39, Edward O. Miller '37, and Norman L. Cahners '36, spoke on different aspects of college life from the viewpoint of the undergraduate.
Fels praised the independence and opportunities for individual initiative afforded Freshmen through their segregation in the Freshman dormitories of the Yard.
In this connection Fels said: "But we not only lived together in the Yard dormitories, we also ate together in the Harvard Union, now reserved exclusively for Freshmen, and carried on our life and activities separately from the rest of the undergraduates. This unitary character of Freshman life greatly accentuates, the trend to self-reliance and independence which have long been a part of even the first year at Harvard." ". . . a unified Freshman class segregated from the other undergraduates and freed from all forms of hazing can develop self-reliance and leadership no less than the other classes . . ."
Touching briefly on the coordination and nature of various Freshman activities, he said: "In the fall of last year, ten promising Freshmen were appointed to the Union Committee, the Union building having become the center of our activities. The members of this committee sponsored a number of hobby groups, arranged a series of inter-collegiate Freshman debates, and promoted some Freshman plays. They also promoted a smoker and several dances, securing well-known entertainers for these social events. Moreover, the Union Committee supplies an innovation, obtaining instructors in the various elementary courses to give free reviews for the benefit of the Freshmen just before the midyear and final examinations."
Cahners on Athletics
Cahners, track star of the last few seasons, delivered an address on "The Changing Aspect of Harvard Athletics."
"Over 3500 men--a greater number than ever before--are participating in some form of Athletics," he said, emphasizing the availability of "Athletics for all."
But these men, he pointed out, were not regimented out to compete for some team. "Today more than half of those who make up Harvard's athletic throng are not out for the organized teams. . . ."
Lauding the modern athletic facilities offered by the University, he said: "No college has facilities which are more accessible than ours and none has a staff of coaches and trainers whose sense of duty to the boy and to the college is more profound."
Again the independence of the Harvard man was voiced when Cahners concluded: "If a skilled athlete decides to abandon inter-collegiate competition and to devote more time to his studies, he is confronted by pleading fellow students and friends, coaches, and in some instances, officers of the University, who endeavor to rouse his conscience and sense of 'duty' to Alma Mater. Few young men can resist this pressure, especially in view of the social stigma attached to the 'quitter'.
"At Harvard, on the other hand, this tendency to bow to convention and unreasoning College opinion does not exist. Harvard feels that at least where indulgence of the 'play instinct' is concerned, the individual should be given ample opportunity, instruction, and facilities, but that he should make his own decisions as to the manner and extent to which he shall avail himself of them."
Miller spoke of the increasing interest of the modern undergraduate in civic and world problems in an address entitled "The Undergraduate of Today."
"In this increased sense of undergraduate social responsibility," he said, "Harvard has shown that she must avoid aloofness from the outer world. She has been a dominating force, in the past, in national and international affairs."
Commenting on undergraduate reaction to the House Plan, he said: "Instead of integrating the College into one whole, they have tended to break it up into separate units. They have restricted friendships, to a great extent, to members of the same House."
Turning to the often assailed "undergraduate freedom," he stated: "The undergraduate of today is gratified at the great measure of freedom which the college authorities now allow him. The effect of this freedom on the student is his assumption of a large share of the responsibility for his education."
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