"Let's cat" is a commonplace phrase in the United States. To most Americans, it is a simple suggestion that can be acted on with neither delay nor trouble. To most Americans, "food" is a word that carries little meaning, in these times compared with such words as "liberty" and "peace," or "communism" and "democracy." But in much of the rest of the world, the idea of "let's eat" is the dominant thought in the mind of every human being. When a man's food consumption averages 1,150 calories daily, he is not likely to be a communist or a democrat or an advocate of free speech. He is likely to be nothing but a hungry man.
1,150 calories happens to be the amount students receive in Heidelberg University, one of the five universities to which the Harvard Relief committee will sent food. The others--in Athens, Peking, East Punjab, and Salzburg--are all crammed with students suffering from equally inadequate sustenance. In these universities, some of the moral and political leadership of a future world is being formed. Today, according to the Rector of the University of Heidelberg, there is "danger of a moral and political breakdown" among students. Again, the situation in the other universities is similar.
For the second time of the academic year, Harvard students are being asked to contribute money to a drive. This is an extraordinary request in view of the fact that the Student Council conducted its fall drive with the understanding that it would be the only charity campaign to be undertaken during the year. This request is fully warranted by the extraordinary conditions. There is no need to recite a series of melodramatic statistics. When a university president writes that "in practise, we chiefly need a second meal daily, even if it were no more than soup," the existence of extraordinary conditions should become abundantly clear.
Nor is there any need to go into a detailed examination of the distribution methods chosen by the Relief Committee. The World Student Service Fund has, along with Care and the American Friends' Service Committee, a monopoly on thorough, conscientious, speedy, cheap, and totally non-political distribution of food abroad. It differs from Care and the American Friends in that these organizations are concerned chiefly with the aged and the very young, whereas WSSF distributes food, books, and clothing to students. Both in its arrangements with WSSF and in its organization throughout the University, the Committee has taken unusual care to make every economy and to achieve maximum efficiency.
The Committee's only failing is that its $20,000 goal is too modest. Last spring's committee collected $22,000, and sets a record for the highest total and the highest per capita contribution made by any University in the nation. There is no reason why this record cannot be broken. $30,000 should not be beyond the reach of a student body of 12,000. Every students and Faculty member should take the fullest possible advantage of this opportunity to contribute to a major humanitarian cause. At the same time no one should forget that his gift inherently contains potential political force. "The choice," writes an American from Athens, "is between feeding a few communists along with a vast majority of non-communists or not feeding any and taking the chance that many of the non-communists will be driven by hunger over to the side which promised them freedom from physical suffering."