Wide Is the Gate

Every night a number of neatly-uniformed policemen scurry down Massachusetts Avenue. Until just over a week ago, they carefully fettered each of the gates which cut through Wigglesworth. Now they leave them invitingly open until 11 p.m. This concession is a small but welcome contribution to the advancement of higher education.

These men are officers of the University Police Force, under the command of Chief Alvin R. Randall. They have been locking the same gates in the same way year after year; only a blizzard or a fire interfered with their duty. And year after year students quietly walked four blocks out of their way every time they wanted to pass through the south margin of the Yard after dark. The great circle route became a habit; it was well on its way toward tradition.

But after Christmas a new development struck at the work-pattern of the efficient and adamant gate-closers. The College opened a bright, new, functional library and said it was specifically for the undergraduate. And the undergraduate dutifully hurried over to take a look. Freshmen found a long but adequate approach sweeping in past Widener and Houghton; upperclassmen found a large steel gate. Some trudged sadly along the well-worn route swinging almost over to Lehman Hall. Less determined students shuffled down to Cronin's or back to their rooms. Lamont attendance began to fall perceptibly.

So the Yard Police took steps. They restrained their eager lock-wielders. A hardy student who had continued to plug northward suddenly discovered his trip unobstructed. He quickly spread the word; students streamed up to the new library again; they blinked at the lighting and gaped at the pastel-colored books tacks. And Chief Randall and his faithful group of Police retired in a state of quiet but vigilant apprehension, carefully balancing the advantages of the open gates against the danger of possible nefarious incursions into the Yard from without. They have little to fear, however. Their action has gone far to break down the bars to free inquiry at Harvard.