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Deferment from the draft will not be extended to college students after this June. This unpleasant fact must be recognized immediately by the University authorities. So far the administration has not acted upon this problem with the result that next year's crop of Seniors are shaking in their boots for fear that they will be wearing khaki rather than the cap and gown one year from now. Men called away by the army in the middle of their Senior year will find themselves in the position of Tantalus, so near a degree and yet so far away. In anticipation of the inevitable some definite mechanism must be adopted to handle these cases.
The Student Council suggested that special "conscription degrees be awarded all men in good standing after the mid-years of their Senior year." These degrees would be granted on the basis of less comprehensive general examinations than those now given at the end of the Senior year; there would be no honor degrees conferred upon these "war babies."
During the last war, all men who entered the service after completing three-fourths of their college work received diplomas at the Armistice. Today the problem is more complicated. Although a Junior would have plenty of time to re-adjust himself to study habits in preparation for final exams, after having spent a year in training, a Senior could obviously not prepare for generals in three months, much less write a thesis. Seniors, therefore, at the end of their army experience would have the unpleasant choice between the frying pan and the fire, between sweating through the examinations or waiting hopefully for a war diploma at the end of the crisis.
The College authorities object to the "conscription degrees" on the 'ground that they will have a debilitating effect upon the educational standards of Harvard. They must be awakened from their inertia. Surely, with the intensity of the present crisis, they can not believe that the Harvard educational standards are going to remain at their present high level. It is in preparation for this contingency that they must plan now to grant special degrees. Although he may be facing an unpleasant future, the undergraduate will at last be facing a more certain one.
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