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To the student who has had the misfortune to go on probation, or who has unsuccessfully violated the parietal rules, or whose term bill for last June remains unpaid, University Hall is not a pleasant place to visit. But, to those in good standing, or with an honest desire to regain good standing, University Hall and the deans therein might be likened to an oasis of solid advice beckoning to the bewildered or negligent who flounder in scholarly quicksand.
Particularly in Freshmen, there is a tendency to hold any disciplinary center in awe. Whether this is the result of grim lessons in the high school principal's office, or the natural human aversion to a confab with the "boss" matters not; the awe is a fact, and many men in this University shiver at any official summons. Such an attitude is incorrect. Student tuition and alumni endowment pay dean's salaries, and their proper duties are corrective and advisory rather than disciplinary. Moreover, to keep in touch with student trends and sentiments, deans must keep in contact with their charges; they obtain information in this way as well as giving it.
At the opposite pole from timid Freshmen are scornful upperclassmen who are "too busy" for a chat, or who refuse to go through "all that red tape." This is nonsense, or at least an exaggeration. Deans are busy men with little time for idle gossip or banter, but they are certainly far from aloof. Rumor to the contrary, a puzzled or worried student can still obtain an appointment quite as readily and quickly at University Hall as he could with any active business or professional man. Few persons would choose to sit in their rooms and worry about an exam when adequate books or notes for preparation were available in the library. They would use the facilities. Parallel reasoning holds true with regard to using deans. With classes as large as they are at Harvard, and with deans few in comparison to the number of students, it is not expedient to send out personal invitations to each individual to drop in for a chat. Nevertheless, University officials are ready to see all who want to come, even if only for such a chat.
The fault in this matter lies almost exclusively on the students themselves. Unused opportunities of this nature have caused many a failure, and perhaps some premature grey hairs. Therefore, if trouble is your lot, at least give the deans an opportunity to review the case. They might suggest a solution; and they would certainly like to have a try at solving it.
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