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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
In recent years the Freshman Smoker has pulled a Topsy and "growed up" into something completely out of kilter with what it was originally designed to be-a stag party and an informal get-together for the entire class. Attendant upon this metamorphosis has been an increasing cost, diverting considerable sums from sorely needed scholarship aid over long periods of time to a variety show which is over in a few hours. Last year's Smoker Committee chairman recommended a return to the traditional type of Smoker, with fewer highly paid entertainers and more local talent, spontaneity, and camaraderie. The resolution adopted last night by the Student Council provides a happy solution for the situation.
The substance of the Council decision was that the outright grant given to the Smoker Committee should be drastically reduced, and that the Committee should determine the size and nature of its party according to the funds it can raise itself, through advertising in the program or any other means. Thus an incentive is given to workers on the Committee, and a greater responsibility is shouldered by them for making the affair a success, not simply by buying the services of outside performers exclusively but by exercising their own initiative. The Council further voted to reserve as far as possible any profit from Red Book and Jubilee for financial assistance to the members of the class which created it, thus insuring that each class will receive the benefit of its own exertions. Net losses for any year are always borne by Student Council funds.
Revising the nature of the Smoker and making scholarship aid more available to needy students are two desirable moves, but there are two other related problems which must receive consideration eventually. One is the question of whether reducing the price of the Red Book for all Freshmen would not be at least as great a benefit as increasing scholarship aid for a given class. The other is a puzzler for this year's Smoker Committee-how to avoid the usual mob of upperclassmen which prevents the Smoker from being of, by, and for the Freshmen.
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