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A handful of Seniors are on the docket to be drafted between mid-years and Commencement Day. These men are all good scholars, and would ordinarily take their General Examinations in May and get their degrees with the rest of the Class of '42. But, through no fault of their own, they will be forced to go from college into the army, navy, air corps or marines without the magical sheepskin, unless the Faculty votes today in favor of allowing them to take their Generals at mid-years.
The three objections which the Administrative Board mentioned in its original recommendation to the Faculty are of a weak and answerable nature. The plan, they say, would "place a heavy burden on the faculty." This burden can mean nothing more than the trouble of drumming up two sets of Generals hard enough to stump a Harvard Senior. But surely it will not overtax the professional chefs to cook up just one extra set of exams for mid-years of 1942. The present Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors will not be a problem, since they can use the three-year acceleration program.
Nor does it throw light on the situation to say that this plan would "lead to an interruption of course work during the first half of the year." The dozen or so Seniors who will be eligible must be "exceptional cases" in the first place. And "exceptional cases" is simply another way of saying can otherwise complete their degree requirements." No man will be allowed to take his Generals at mid-years unless he is able, scholastically, to finish all the necessary courses ordinarily required of a four-year student. It will only disrupt the first half year to the extent that each applicant will have to take a half, or possibly a full course more than he had originally planned to take in his Senior year. But if he is in danger of being drafted before June, he should at least be given the chance to decide whether or not the degree means enough to him to make this sacrifice.
The last argument claims that "there would be a lowering of standards if Generals were offered both at mid-years and at the end of the year." This does not reflect on the Seniors in question, but on those who make out the exams. The Seniors are allowed "no lowering of course reductions," so the argument falls back to the "heavy burden on the faculty."
Since none of these objections are very valid, it would be extremely narrow of the Faculty to deny these few last-year men a chance to get their diplomas at mid-years before going into the service.
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