The throngs at Memorial Hall will be only a foretaste of what a bustling, overcrowded Harvard must face during the next few years. 2000 incoming freshmen and returning veterans will find queues, chowlines and packed classrooms as much a part of undergraduate life as the waning tutorial system and the evergreen Harvard tradition of individual development. How the individual is to be developed, how he is to benefit from the peculiar combination of intellectual wealth and academic freedom that are the treasures of the College, is a far greater problem than it was in the "normal" years. At the point where the overburdened facilities of University Hall and departments of instruction cannot spread themselves 'round any further veteran and freshmen must rely on native savvy and a few tips to prevent their hard-earned educations from being filed away in the card index, along with 2000 others.
Overcrowded classes--and they will be large--will be the toughest problem. But where 500 men sit dociley in a lecture course and scribble the crumbs that come at them thrice weekly, only a few actually make personal contact with the men on the podium or at the desk and thus give their work that vital additional tang. The institution, "office hours," has often made the difference between the most routine delineation of facts and an entirely new insight into the same material. Harvard faculty members are much more accessible than most undergraduates would believe. By not seeking them out, the fifth guy from the left, aisle K, will remain just that through four crowded years.
But where faculty-student relationships might prove difficult to those men unaccustomed or unwilling to "seek out the teacher," the situation is much more favorable in the University's extracurricular activities. During the fall, men in the Yard will be asked to join groups interested in everything from Chinese idols to Bulgarian chess. Individuality is an after-hours proposition, especially since classwork on the mass production level leaves little room for the personal slant. Mr. '50 will fiind in a College of 5500 men a least a handful who feel the same way about the Russians, or like back-handed Cribbage. It is in this group that he may lose his serial-number status for awhile, and, like the unhurried freshmen of 1846, reconstruct the world.
As far as the living quarters and dining halls are concerned, no little words will ward off the torrents of honest gripes that are inevitable. But it is still worthwhile to remember that Harvard undergraduates have lived, and still live, far better than college students anywhere. The class of '50 will not be pampered with some of the frills that freshmen of ten years ago might expect, but compared to the guys in the Quonsets at colleges over the country--they're well off.
Above all of the confusion and the crowds there still remains an intangible--the Harvard name--which, for better or worse, has attracted 2000 men who are willing to invest four crucial years and want the best possible returns. If the record is any sort of evidence, they have little to fear.