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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
A search that began in February to fill a new post announced in January has duly come to a fruitful close: tonight Phillips Brooks House reveals the identity of the first lay confessor of the Harvard community. For the first time there will be one universally recognized asylum for Freshmen or anybody else plagued by those subtle woes that are all the more obsessive because of their intangibility.
The constantly increasing consultation of students with the psychiatrists of the Hygiene Department first made apparent to Dr. Bock the need for such an adviser as the one who enters upon his duties tonight. It was wisely recognized that vague fears of psycho-analysis and similar diaoblical devices commonly associated with the impersonal ingenuity of the professional mental adjusters, might deter many men from consulting them, whereas these men might at the same time be quite willing to lay their troubles before one who, besides being qualified to advise, is above all sympathetic and acquainted with the sort of difficulty in question. Before such a man the worried ones will surely be more ready to confide than they could ever be in the presence of deans and other official persons now necessarily relied upon.
If the choice is fortunate, an immeasurable service will be rendered, and probably to great numbers of students. Freshmen, who have that famous "transition from school to college" to make, may be expected to be the chief beneficiaries. It would be a grave mistake for them, however, to regard this new man as an actual substitute for the more or less theoretical Freshman Adviser, and to pester him with all sorts of questions about courses of instruction. A great new servant, one hopes, is about to be acquired, but the old deficiency, the lack of genuine scholastic counsellors for the new men, still stands, and must still be faced by the University.
The old paternalism of prescribing within narrow limits what a man is to do in college has gone out unlamented. If the incumbent of the new post lives up to the hopes placed in him, he will mark the advent of a new and better paternalism: the readiness and ability to give friendly advice on distressing matters when it is asked for.
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