Although the Freshman protest against the House selections may be quite justifiable, the complaining group is mistaken in tracing the source of the trouble in the admissions system "per sc." The cross-section and merit principles upon which this system is based are not incompatible. For, contrary to Freshman claims, the latter in theory will never be sacrificed to the former. For under the strictest application of the system, a good scholastic or activities record will always take precedence over such considerations as from what schools or from what part of the country the applicant may come. However, in the actual practice of this policy, the Freshmen have a legitimate complaint.
There can be little doubt that at present the House Masters are abusing their rights of selection by placing undue emphasis upon the cross-section principle, occasionally for the purposes of discrimination. When several Freshmen conditionally gain admittance to Houses, while two of the most prominent men in the class and a large number of Dean's List students are refused entrance, it is time to take steps to prevent the present perversion of the system. One way of doing this is to institute a group of set criteria which would circumscribe the freedom of action of the Masters. The difficulties inherent in such a plan are evident. For it is next to impossible to make arbitrary standards for evaluating the activities and scholastic standing of a college student. What is more, such suggestions in the recent Council Report as the compulsory admittance of Dean's List men and the barring of almost all probation men may still allow for much unfairness in selection. But, undesirable as the establishment of fixed rules may be, the rash actions of the House Masters, if continued, will inevitably necessitate steps of this nature.
There is, in fact, but a single way in which such measures can be avoided; and that is for the House Masters to fulfill the trust which they have abused. The first selection of the Freshman class this week has made it patent that these gentlemen do not feel obliged to follow any precepts in the admissions system except their own opinions and prejudices. If their attitude does not change before the second draft is made this year, it will be necessary to curtail their authority with a system of set criteria.