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When the Refugee Committee holds its rally tonight, one or two ferret-eyed ladies of the Press will probably drop in at Saunders to see who goes there. And several officers of the university should drop in for the same purpose, because the success of the rally should largely determine University policy when similar plans arise in the future.
It is relatively unimportant whether or not twenty German students come to Harvard. Neither the undergraduate body nor the National Socialist Government will be very seriously affected one way or the other. But the question of whether an ideal as broad as Tolerance will be able to weld the student body into a united, cohesive group is of extreme importance.
Ten thousand dollars is cheap enough for the publicity Harvard is getting from its gallant gesture, but public relations should be subordinate to undergraduate harmony. And there can be no doubt that too narrow a basis will cause student resentment of this appeal and a certain friction in everyday relations. On the other hand, there can be even less doubt that the Committee has tried to place its appeal on a broad plain, although in one or two details it has been short-sighted.
A truly tolerant attitude would call for a stand against all totalitarian aggressions, and the allied student organizations would do well to adopt as speedily as possible the Y.M.C.A.'s plan for relief to Chinese scholars which they now have under consideration. Secondly, true toleration is devoid of political motives, and the student body should have been give a greater guarantee that their contributions will be attributed to the humanitarian motives which inspired them.
Over and against these weaknesses is the general attitude of broadmindedness which has characterized the Committee's work. The active interest of all groups concerned, including the Student Council, should prove to the most skeptical that the movement represents a wide and disinterested group of undergraduates. It is to be earnestly hoped that this, together with the nationally recognized brilliance and sincerity of tonight's speakers, will draw an audience from every stratum of Harvard Life. But it is the University's duty to discover if the aims of a high-minded minority are realized, if the drive has created dissension or solidarity in the student body. The University by the very nature of its dollar-for-dollar proposition, is testing student altruism: It must abide by the answer.
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