At the mass meeting Monday night in Memorial hall President Conant specifically warned the undergraduate body against running around like chickens without their heads, hysterically cackling through the Yard. Rushing into Boston to join the Army, Navy, and Marine Force is useless if they do not give some time to rational consideration as to whether by so doing they will be giving the country the best of what they have to offer. Despite this warning Harvard students are already showing signs of panic; already there are vague rumors of a Harvard Regiment similar to the one formed in the last war, with two-thirds of the student body constantly drilling; already a few horrified calamity-howlers are foretelling the closing of College after finals. As President Roosevelt said, nothing breeds unconfirmed rumors like the electric atmosphere of wartime. And Harvard's ether is charged to the explosion point.
The fact of the matter is that the university most emphatically does not intend to repeat the mad rush of 1917-18. Harvard will not become an armed camp, nor will its primary purpose be the nurturing of cannon fodder. The University's donation to this war will be not so much flesh and blood as brains, specialized and trained in science, economics, and the art of modern war. Except for the three-year program, there are no plans to curtail academic work for students. On the contrary, the curriculum will be increased by the addition of new defense courses training men for special skills. The Faculty's nomadic existence between here and Washington will not turn into a great migration to the capital; t will probably remain just as it is now. Not even the R.O.T.C. plans any speed-ups or intensifications; Naval and Military Science, having been planned for just such an emergency, will remain the same. To put thinking mechanisms in cold storage for the duration and march it no battle en masse is not the Harvard plan. Instead, more teaching, more study, more research will be the order of the day.
Harvard is beginning, not ending, an era in its existence. The calm at University Hall is in sharp contrast to the confusion in the dormitories. For some of us--for a great many of us--the future consists of guns and ships and planes. For others it means different studies, harder work, longer hours. But for all of us the present should mean quiet thought and a serious orientation of ourselves in relation to the needs of the country.