Of all possible solutions to the present problem of House dances, the projected Harvard "prom" is undoubtedly the worst. Such a function, while getting rid of none of the important evils of House dances, would completely destroy the charm of the undergraduate social season, and would cause every self-respecting student to go out of town for the weekend on which it was held.
From an undergraduate viewpoint, the chief fault of the present House dances is that they almost invariably lose money, but this is an evil which only experience can cure, and it is not one that concerns the University. The only charge that the Dean's Office can legitimately lay on House doorsteps is that their dances bring undue notoriety to the College. It should be remembered, however, that this odor of debauchery is smelled only by the bluer noses of Boston society, and is nothing to the nation-wide publicity that would attend a University "trot."
House Masters have for some time resented noisy swarms of outsiders who attend House dances, and unfortunate incidents of a personal nature have on one or two occasions added to their prejudice. But their passing the buck to the H.A.A. is completely unwarranted, since they have no right to resent and presence of other undergraduates and their guests from stands and playing-fields.
The present system gives undergraduates a House dance to attend after virtually every important sports event, instead of forcing them into expensive Boston night-clubs or less exclusive Chelsca hide-aways. It does not detract from House "personality" since Rabbits or Elephants are always in the large majority at dances given in their respective homes.
Although some steps should be taken to limit the attendance of these affairs to a size consistent with the size of the dance-floor, members of the University should not be deprived of this inter-House gaiety. The price, crowd, location, and general "collegiate" atmosphere of a Harvard "prom" would make such a dance repulsive to all but a very few. There would be the same notoriety, the same risk of financial loss, the same noise, the same unfortunate insults to officers of the University, the same whispers of scandal behind the purple panes of Beacon Hill as exist under the present system. And in addition the University would have admitted the failure of a large portion of the House Plan and would have found a much less desirable substitute. If dances are left in student hands John Harvard will be able to get along without the help of Joe College.
"LET NOT THY LEFT HAND KNOW . . ."
Little short of incredible were figures presented to the United States Senate yesterday demonstrating Japan's dependence upon America for the raw materials of war. From us she buys 60 per cent of her oil, 90 per cent of her copper, 91 per cent of her automobiles and parts, more than 40 per cent of her pig iron, and nearly 50 per cent of her machinery and engines. In the light of our sanctimonious concern for the welfare of the Chinese, these facts are amazing indeed.
It is far easier, however, to demonstrate the hypocrisy of America's position that to decide upon a suitable remedy. Idealists who would immediately embargo all commodity exports to the Far East are confronted with convincing economic argument that, especially in time of depression, unilateral action by the United States would be suicidal. Not only would present-day industry be crippled, but all future trade would be dislocated: a Japan so treated would hesitate ever again to become dependent on American producers. Moreover, there arises that weakest and most despicable of excuses: were we to deny ourselves this trade, other nations would immediately step in and take it over. Weak and despicable it is; but true.
Obviously, the only solution at all practicable is cooperative action among the principle sellers and potential sellers of war material. This method has never been tried. In 1931 Britain, and in 1935, America, refused to cooperate. American indifference to world affairs has long been the chief stumbling block in the path of constructive peacemaking; and if this most recent demonstration of her vital position in the world has jolted public opinion but slightly out of its blind isolationism, it has been well worth while.