Last year the Placement Bureau, a vital arm of the Administrative body, as any Senior will testify, was looped off at the shoulder. The University fired James Durnell and Donald Moyer, the latter an A-1 contact man who is working at Cornell this year as Director of Personell with wider powers than most Harvard deans; left behind is a useless remnant-several files listing industrial representatives and job opportunities which at present languish in the Dean's Office, and an experienced secretary, working this year in the NYA office. This drastic amputation, which saved the University approximately $18,000 a year, was undertaken "for budgetary reasons" soon after the announcement of a 10% slash in the funds for all departments.
Behind the scenes, several forces besides financial necessity were at work. One theory which finds strong backing in the University's Administration runs something like this: if a graduate takes a job with only his A.B. degree as bargaining power, he will be forced to accept a menial job with menial pay. The only way to prevent such "exploitation" is training in one of the various graduate schools. Abolishing the Placement Bureau would thus have the effect of encouraging the jobless office-door vagrants to continue for another three years at some University, possibly Harvard.
The other strongly-supported theory which excused the removal of the Placement Bureau in the eyes of the Administration postulates that Harvard is an educational institution; better, then, to save $18,000 by ridding the budget of the expense of a Bureau alien to Harvard's proper function than to eliminate something intellectual with an equivalent cost.
Statistics show that approximately 55% of all graduates do not take the University's advice against "exploitation." For these men Harvard, with all its contacts in the business world, intends to do nothing toward smoothing their way into life careers. Professor Casner's office, which dispenses advice on opportunities in the armed forces and in some defense industries, in no way functions as an employment bureau. Most of the nation's large industries, and businesses-including those which produce for defense-have representatives whose sole duties are to contact promising college graduates. They have already begun to inquire when they can stop in at Harvard this year to interview prospects in the '42 crop of grads, but no agency exists now that will bring employer and employee together. The University's verdict is that '42 will have to shift for itself.
The basic ideal which justifies the existence of any educational institution is preparation of its students for their future life. That ideal does not imply that every college should be a vocational training school. Harvard Faculty and students unitc in the conviction that a training in the liberal arts is the best way to develop character, intellect, and possibilities for future usefulness. Yet by abolishing the Placement Bureau, the Administration has done much to render the ideal of preparation irreconcilable with practice. The most important function of any Harvard graduates's life is his work, and no expense should be spared-much less $18,000 in rendering all possible aid in securing him not only a job, but a job suited to his capabilities and not one he will grab out of pure desperation after months of aimless searching. The Placement Bureau must be restored at once before the contacts grow cold and before '42 and future classes begin to regret not spending their last year at Katy Gibbs.