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To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
Everybody, it seems, wants a few rules to shore him up in moments of weakness: last spring a third of Radcliffe wanted social rules that would keep them from sinning: this fall it is CRIMSON editors who, presumably having spent too many hours working for the CRIMSON instead of researching their theses, want a rule that will keep them from throwing in the typescript.
It is one thing to admit that the departments have the power to block such freedom as the Faculty legislation of last Tuesday offers to seniors. No doubt the recent decision will be clarified by the Dean until it means something acceptable to most of the major departments. But the CRIMSON has made the rather remarkable equation of what-the-departments-want with what-is-a-good-thing-to-have, an equation which is, coming from the CRIMSON, quite unexpected. And if the CRIMSON seriously believes that employing unoccupied tutors is the most serious obstacle to making senior tutorial a divisible course, then what is needed is an administrative shakeup, not a hurried acquiescence to the men who cared so little that they walked out of Tuesday's meeting.
Departments will continue to be arbitrary, and sometimes unfair. The Gill plan may represent some apotheosis of departmental consensus, but the CRIMSON has been at pains lately to point out the difference between the (good) program in Social Relations and the (evil) program in English. Departments will always find ways to flatten luckless seniors, just as they used to refuse to recommend for Honors in General Studies.
The CRIMSON, however, has decided that these departments are right. Make this point clear, as the Thursday editorial did not: the CRIMSON not only admits the power of the departments--it believes they are right. Its proposal to allow departments to recommend for departmental honors without a thesis is superbly trivial: the issue behind CLGS is freedom from departments, not within them. It is the honored but apparently dispensable assumption that a Harvard student is old enough to decide what he will or won't, can or can't do. Cutting nine o'clock classes is a horrible temptation; ignoring reading lists is a lure of fearsome evil; and apparently the possibility of taking a degree in General Studies is as serious a threat to academic integrity as cheating on exams: papa department must come to the rescue.
Once it seemed reasonable that a student could choose any way of winning his degree that was valid and honest. Now the CRIMSON wants to invoke some kind of academic McNaughton rule, claiming that the senior writing a thesis is mildly insane, not really responsible for his actions, and should be made a ward of the department. The editors have a vision of lemmings fleeing from their theses, a rush presumably quite like the panilcked stampede that followed wide availability of General Studies under the Gill plan. Thomas I. Jones.
[A reply will appear in Monday's CRIMSON.]
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