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Yard Is Center of Freshman Life


When the Class of 1941 enters Harvard College this Fall, the Class of 1938 will be rounding out the last of its four years under the House Plan. The Senior Class this year will hold the distinction of having been the fourth to go through Harvard under the House Plan.

Six years ago this Fall Harvard opened its now and magnificent set of Houses for the upperclassmen of the College and took the Yard from the Senior Class to hand it over to the Freshmen. At the time, it was done with fear and trembling, and even Copey, Harvard's beloved Charles Townsend Copeland, looked upon the invasion of the first-year Class as the approach of doom. For of 1,000 lusty throats, as yet unmodulated by the traditions of the College, bellowing "Reinhardt", the prospect was not too pleasant.

Freshmen in Yard

But for six years now, the Freshman Class has occupied the Yard and has done it well. Noise and confusion have molested the precincts of the Yard at times to be sure, but the promised bedlam fortunately failed to materialize.

The four years of college have been divided under the House Plan into two distinct periods. Harvard is perhaps unique among colleges in the extent to which the Freshman year is set apart as a unit. Besides living together in the Yard, the first-year men have their own eating and recreational center in the UNION, now turned over to their exclusive use. In athletics there is a complete set-up of Freshmen teams, while the intramural sports are being organized on a dormitory basis corresponding to the inter-House program of the uppercases.

No Paraphernalia

On the other hand there exists at Harvard none of the special caps or paraphernalia which are used to distinguish Freshmen at some institutions of learning. Harvard, as the Freshmen will soon find, is the very antithesis of "Collegiatism" and "Rah-rath"

Harvard imposes few restrictions on the liberty of the student. The requirement of attendance at classes is very liberal so long as the student remains in good standing. There is no compulsory chapel, no ban on automobiles, no restriction on comings and goings.

The Union

In many respects the Union, situated on Quincy Street just outside of the Yard, is the center of first-year life. Under one roof are the dining hall, common rooms, game rooms, rooms for informal language study, and two libraries, one containing a fine collection of books for general reading, the other texts required in History 1 and Government 1, two of the larger courses.

It is in the Union that most of the social events of the Freshman year take place: tea dances after one or more of the football games in the Fall, smokers, with vaudeville or other entertainment, the Jubilee, or formal dance, in the Spring, series of lectures, debating meetings, and various other gatherings.

Freshman Government

Someone might well ask the question: What voice have Freshmen in the affairs of the Union or of their Class? The answer is that the Class is represented through the Freshman Union Committee, composed of first-year men selected on the basis of dormitory representation by the deans and proctors. Its duty is to cooperate with the College Student Council and the graduate secretary of the Union in managing the affairs of the Union and of the Class. The names of the men chosen to make up the Union Committee will be announced in the CRIMSON about a month after the opening of College.

1941 Class Officers

The regular Class officers are elected along with the officers of the upperclasses during the Winter term. Superseding in large part the Union Committee, these officers have a number of duties to perform in connection with the Jubilee, smokers, etc, and are considerably active.

The Houses

When the Houses went into operation the center of Harvard life for the upperclassman shifted unmistakably from the Yard to the region beside the Charles.

Five of the Houses, Eliot, Kirkland, Lowell, Winthrop and Leverett are grouped fairly close together in one section, while Dunste locates farther down the river and Adams on the old Gold Coast of Mt. Auburn Street. Between the Yard and the Houses, in the vicinity of Mt. Auburn Street, are found also the New Athletic Building, most of the clubs, and the offices of the CRIMSON, Lampoon, and Advocate.

Houses and Tutors

Freshmen are excluded from the Houses because of the intimate relation existing between the House Plan and the TUTORIAL SYSTEM. The real difference in the four-year course comes at the end of the Freshman year at Harvard instead of a year later as in many colleges. By the end of his first year, if not before, the student is expected to be ready to do work of university grade and to work under a tutor.

At this time, therefore, he applies for admission to one of the Houses. Each House is designed to be a cross-section of the College geographically, academically, and socially. A man having a special reason for entering a certain House can say so when he makes his application in the Spring.

Tutors Assigned Sophomores

Each Sophomore is assigned a tutor in the Field of Concentration he has elected, usually a tutor attached to his own House. Of the tutorial staff of each House about ten are resident in the House, while the rest have temporary studies there. The student meets his tutor about once a week, eats with him occasionally, and is expected, in one way or another, to absorb a good deal of learning and to benefit from the intellectual contact. At the same time every upperclassman carries a regular schedule of courses.

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