Nine months ago Harvard men came back to class to find that red and yellow leaves were not the only things descending on the Yard. Radcliffe, which for years existed by the courtesy of University teachers had officially moved into the College.
The ensuing months have seen Joint Instruction, originally set up during the war, firmly installed as a regular practice. In spite of early squawks from this side of the Yard and seating complaints from the Annex, all has gone along pretty much as expected. More than 1300 Harvard students, by far the largest group in the College, are in group IV on the rank list--right where they usually are; and Radcliffe grades are much the same as ever, according to Karlene Madison, secretary to Dean Sherman. "We have just about the same number of girls going on probation as always."
It All Started When. . . .
Joint instruction has its roots deep in the past. Some one hundred and seventy years ago, a group of young ladies gathered in Cambridge to reap the educational benefits of Harvard. For more than a decade, this experiment meant nothing more formal than more or less random studying with the College faculty; but in 1784 the first diplomas were awarded to "Annex" students, and Radcliffe set up in business officially.
In the next century, the seminar across the Common began to gather a teaching staff of its own, and by the opening of the twentieth century had a small but distinct faculty. However, during all this growth, the backbone, the drawing appeal, the top names on the Radcliffe lists were members of the Harvard Faculties. As President Eliot's elective plan widened the offerings for male scholars, the ladies also benefited, for more and more courses were given both here and the at the Annex.
The full flowering of this system put somewhat of a strain of hard-working professors. Men often rose early to give a lecture in the Yard, and then had to trek to Radcliffe a couple of hours later to deliver the same talk. This did not inspire the same high quality for both talks; a man could hardly be expected to master much enthusiasm the second time.
Some teachers, like Samuel E. Morison, Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History, never care particularly for cross-town work. His courses in Colonial and Naval History, among the top offerings in the Department, were denied to 'Cliffedwellers except during the period when Morison's daughter was an undergraduate there. Many courses, although offered to girls, were taught by substitutes or younger teachers.
Along in 1942, several things combined to shift the situation. Not only was the College Faculty overworked, but the Radcliffe budget was beginning to pose a considerable problem; and when the war created space and personnel problems something had to be done. Complete divorce of the two institutions was out of the question: Dean Buck, in a special report to the Faculty in March, 1943, remarked on "the historic fact that Radcliffe has grown up under the shadow of Harvard, and something of a 'scrambled egg' exists. Divorce initiated by Harvard would mean the destruction of Radcliffe as a fist-class college, and I do not quite see how we could justify such a consequence of any action Harvard might take."
As a result of this view, which apparently prevailed in the Faculty, the first steps were taken during the war toward Joint Instruction. The basic principle involved in this and in later steps is not only one of expediency but also of duty. Dean Buck feels now--as he did then--that such a University as Harvard "must not be limited in its objectives as is a college like Williams or Amherst." Harvard has a definite duty to teach women, he feels, "Unless we choose to ignore half the population."
'Cliffe Alumnae Don't Understand
A slightly confused reaction has characterized Radcliffe alumnae. They don't seem to understand exactly what has happened, and apparently assume that some cataclysmic step has remade the face of Radcliffe. Gentle reminders from the Dean's office of their own sojourn under University faculty members have so far served to clear up these misunderstandings.
Bender has, as yet, found no rough sports on the student side of the question. "No students complaints have come through to me," he stated, "and I have had no reports of trouble through the Radcliffe office. Apparently there's been no bad feeling, and no funny business yet."
Dean Kerby-Miller of Radcliffe, in charge of the academic fortunes of the Annex girls, echoed Benders; remarks, adding that the 'Cliffe contingents seemed quite at ease in the Yard.
The arrival of the female scholars in College classrooms has posed a few educational questions, however. The old system of separate classes allowed the girls to have smaller sections; they were able to get better acquainted with their teachers than they are now, and have been in some cases unhappy about this. But Dean Kerby-Miller feels that this loss has been compensated for by the fact that the girls have had to learn to study in a different fashion--to organize their work over a longer period of time and a greater range of subject matter.
English 7--this spring's largest course--contains approximately 50 Radcliffe students. If the course were given at Radcliffe, these 50 girls might be able to carry on a class discussion; but when several hundred Harvard students are added, this is impossible.