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"Harvard is a venerable institution is Professor Merriman doing what he should to maintain its reputation?"
This is the question posed by a front-page editorial entitled "Right of Petition" appearing in the current issue of Boston Review, eight-page Hub political dape sheet.
The editorial takes up the endgols on behalf of members of the Student Union who last month circulated a petition to President Roosevelt urging neutrality and signifying the signers' intentions "not to follow in the footsteps of the young men of 1917."
It goes on to attack Roger B. Merriman '96, Gurney Professor of History and Political Science who is alleged by the Boston Review to have commented unfavorably on the petition, saying that Harvard students "should spend more of their time in healthy exercise, rather than in circulating petitions."
"As one who should be an authority on American history, at least, the warning professor should know that the right of petition is an ancient and honorable one and had its effective beginning as long ago as when the American colonists were the victims of British control and tyranny," the editorial states.
"It may be that the college boys, to whom the learned professor paid his attention, do not believe that petitions should be formulated and circulated only by those of cultivated experience. On the other hand, it may be, as spokesmen for the collegians plainly described him, that he is one of those 'arm-chair patriots' who feel that nothing should be done, especially by young men, which would in any way hamper the efforts of France and Great Britain in their efforts to subdue Herr Hitler and his allies," the Boston Review continues.
After paying tribute to the democratic practice of petitioning, the editorial says of the noted History 1 montor, "He has a right to his opinion, of course, as an American citizen. But he has no more right to impress his opinions on the student body, or any part of it, and indeed, not as much, as the students have to voice their views by the most direct, orderly and effective method at their command."
"What of importance," it goes on, "has the aggressive supporter of the theory that the Nation is overlooking its most important duty ever said and done to put an end to disturbances and rioting by students and defiance of police authority in and near Harvard Square"
"Does he consider such occasional flaunting of authority 'a more healthful' exercise than signing and circulating petitions?"
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