Swamped with volunteers for the program of corrective exercises, the Department of Physical Education has been forced to revise its schedule in order to include all applicants.
Claiming that the upswing is directly related to national defense Norman W. Fradd, Assistant Director of the Development, suggested that the enlarged enrollment may be the result of a desire to keep in top-notch physical shape in anticipation of "things to come".
The new schedule will add an extra hour to each day's program, with the new group using the main gym floor at 2 o'clock on Monday Wednesday and Friday, and at 3 o'clock on Tuesday and Thursday.
In past years those in charge of the corrective exercises have been obliged to limit the number of men taking the course because the 200-odd annual "non-volunteers" required to take the exercises for the regular six week period exhausted available facilities.
Restricted space in the special exercise room limits the program to a mere 80 men per hour.
Out-Door Life Fad
The new outburst of enthusiasm, according to Fradd, is simply a phase of the "physical education mania" which always sweeps the country in time of war. The first reaction against the usual "laissez faire' 'policy has come with the propaganda campaign being waged by a department of Mayor Laguardia's "Office of U. S. Civilian Defense" known as the Division of Physical Education. "Hale America", a movement sponsored by this division and headed by Alice Marble and John B. Kelly, has already sent publicity to educational institutions.
In former years at Harvard about 300 students annually took the corrective exercises, but only about 200 were required to take them because of incorrect posture. The remainder were either freshmen volunteers or upperclassmen who wanted to continue the exercises they had taken in freshman year. Each year, according to Fradd, about 75% rise to an "A" or "B" rating and about 15% rise to a "C"; the rest remain stationary at a "D".
Maintaining that there is definitely no stigma attached to participation in the program, Fradd pointed out that many star athletes join. More than half the preliminary work, consisting of hundreds of exercises, takes place on the mats and is designed to develop back and abdominal muscles.
Program Begun in 1919
The college program started in 1919 as a reaction to the large number of college applicants turned down by draft boards. When the Physical Education Department was reorganized in that year, the corrective exercises program was begun as an experiment.
Starting in the so-called "Freshman Athletic Building" (now providing squash courts for three Houses), the new program was shifted four years later to the Hemenway Gymnasium. Finally, with the completion of the Indoor Athletic Building in 1928, the scene of the exercises was moved to its present location.
In 1922 Fradd perfected the use of silhouettes to determine which students were in need of the exercises. The process, later modified by the "shadow graph", spread to all parts of the country. In 1938 the now famous "aluminum pins" were instituted to replace the visual method of conclusion by a mathematical method.
Finally, because of requests made by anthropologists desirous of studying "types", actual photographs were taken. "The present enthusiasm is very similar to that in 1919; only this time it's a question of preparedness rather than of an aftermath", concluded Mr. Fradd.