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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Union Committee Has Risen in Last Two Years to Position In Which It Leads Freshman Government, Begins Reforms

Most Frequent Criticism of It Is Because of Undemocratic Method of Choice

By Caleb Foote

Taking in their hands congratulatory letters from Mr. Marshall, informing them of their appointment to the Union Committee, twelve Freshmen will march into the Union tonight for their first meeting.

Only a few of these twelve could have had any idea that they were to be selected to take a leading part in the student government of the Freshmen, that they would eat with Mr. Marshall and Dean Leighton to talk over what would be best for their classmates.

A Student Council

Called the Union Committee solely from the name of the building in which Freshman activities are centered, this group is in reality a Freshman Student Council, and will find the Dean's office willing to let it take almost as active a part as it wishes.

Running Dances

But though running dances and arranging to have "Copey" come down and deliver a Christmas reading are necessary functions for the newly named Committee, more important work awaits the more ambitious members of the group if they follow the example of the last two years.

Up to 1935 almost an unknown body, in that year a committee of the Class of '39 under the informal chairmanship of Richard P. Hedblom '39 took an active lead in class affairs, proved that the twelve men appointed really had an opportunity to lead and to initiate.

For example, that committee saw that many Freshmen did not get the chance to have any free review of the work of a course before exams, and it tried an experiment of instituting free faculty reviews, an experiment continued last year.

Preliminary Training

Formed after the Freshmen had been moved into the Yard, the Union Committee has turned into a training group for future class officers, for its members, no matter how undemocratic the method of their choice may be, get excellent preliminary training in student government.

Perhaps more discussion about the Union Committee has reveled around its method of choice than anything else. "Undemocraticl", "Arbitrary", have been the most frequent criticisms. But, as Mr. Marshall says, "it's the best method we've been able to work out."

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