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As old as Adam is the question of the suitability of the S.B. degree; yet like the pollution of that scriptural figure time has not satisfactorily disposed of the matter. Still there are men who graduate from Harvard and, though they have not concentrated in any scientific field, receive S.B. degrees because Latin conjugations or Greek declensions had no appeal for them in prep school. Their immediate reaction is open or secret ire and a strong impulse to kick Harvard officials where they will feel it most. A man concentrating in Music and gaining for his effort a S.B. learns too early in life the strange effect of inconsistency. There can be no greater scholastic paradox in Harvard than the fact that more than half of the S.B.'s given last June to honors men were bestowed upon concentrators in such academic fields as History, Economics, and Government.
In making a more accurate separation of the two degrees, what a student does in college should be taken into consideration. His field of concentration should determine the degree he receives, regardless of his expeditions with Caesar in secondary school. Now the two degrees often mean Bachelor of Three Years' Latin and Bachelor of Two Years' Latin. For an A.B. two years of Greek or three of Latin, together with two years of either French or German, are necessary. Both candidates for A.B.'s and S.B.'s must have a reading knowledge of French or German. If the heads of the scientific departments could cheer for the elimination of the classics requirements, they should also be able to favor a correct application of the S.B., for almost three-fourths of the 1936 honors men concentrating in the sciences received A.B.'s. What last June's "laude" graduates did may be considered a fair representation of the tendency of those who graduated without honors both in 1936 and previous years.
As it stands, both degrees mean little to men in the arts and sciences. By a sensible distinction between the A.B. and S.B. not only will there be some preciseness in academic language, but future Harvard graduates will be provided with a legitimate degree.
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