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To the Editors of the Crimson:
President Conant has proposed that since the draft age is to be lowered to 18, the college be transformed into a training school for high school graduates who have technical abilities which could be usefully developed by the Army and Navy. This would exclude a Liberal Arts course at Harvard.
We believe that this may well be disastrous. A liberal education has always been supposed to encourage the thought and reflection which enables men to criticize and direct society; it is a bulwark of democracy. To eliminate liberal education would greatly diminish the number of men so trained and thus would menace the democratic environment in which leaders of democracies should be trained in War as well as in Peace. Since there is likely to be a year between graduation from high school and induction into military service, we recommend that this year be used by those who so desire, for a liberal education at College. We feel that while so short a course would not produce experts in any field of the humanities, it would at least encourage critical and constructive thought on social issues. England has experimented successfully with such a course. In China where nine-tenths of the schools and colleges have been destroyed, Chang Kai Shek, encouraging students to remain in school has said:
"Students and educators today must consider themselves as warriors storming forth and braving death, as forerunners in new social reforms, as founders of a nation who defy all hardships, as sages and heroes who play decisive roles in critical moments of the nation . . . ."
The critical moment of today we share with China. Should not Harvard, working in conditions of far greater safety, also do its part in keeping alive liberal education? Gregory Henderson '44 Maurice Friedman '43 Melvin Richter '43 Andrew E. Rice '43 J. C. Russell '43
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