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Jokes are fine things if they are funny. But if they injure or scare or build up phobias in the victims, jokes are no longer funny though they may still be side-splitting to bystanders. Of such calibre was the hoax attempted against some Freshmen this week. To receive notice that he has contracted a social disease is not a laughing matter to a young man especially when the notice appears to come from a scource as business-like and straightforward as the Hygiene Department. It is too likely to be taken seriously, and the ensuing worry and doubt, bad enough at any time, might prove fatal to scholastic standing during hour examination period.
Not only is the victim of a prank in such obvious bad taste apt to suffer unjustly, but the reputation of the Hygiene Department for providing accurate, constructive health information to students undergoes unwarranted defamation. It is not an easy job to build up undergraduate confidence in the University's hygiene center, but Dr. Bock has made progress in this direction. It is therefore not a laughable joke which threatens to tear down such work. Particularly in the light of the announcement today that Harvard doctors are wholeheartedly backing a movement to make medical aid more available to the general public, this degenerate fraud glistens in direct and unpleasant antithesis.
No one, and the Hygiene Department most of all, wants to take all the fun out of college. Amusing incidents, companionable joshing, and downright merriment are desirable, not only to make these four years memorable in later life, but to relax from the rigors of studying and even to make more digestible some of the dining hall meals. Dr. Bock and his associates are in full accord with keeping their undergraduate charges happy by jokes or any other decent means, for happiness and health go hand in hand. But so called humor with a cruel or perverted twist cannot be tolerated here, and the Department is justified in taking every possible step to apprehend the guilty parties and to punish them severly. In short, funny ha-ha is welcome, necessary; funny peculiar is taboo.
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