Class of 1938 Distinguishes Itself in Riots, Public Life

Many's the present Harvard man who would envy the class of 1988 the distinction of its college history: a freshman year which began auspiciously with a fine, successful riot, and a junior year which included one of the best riots of the century. But the other years were also, in their own way, exciting ones for President James Bryant Content's second Harvard class, and the world into which '38 graduated continued to provide another kind of excitement, though more formidable and grim.

It was in the fall of 1934--the fresh-man of the class of 1938--after the college term had settled into routine, that Harvard and Princeton smoothed over an eight year breach in athletic relations, meeting on the gridiron for the first time since 1926. Back in the 'twenties there has been a lot of haggling about whether Princeton really deserved as important a place as Yale on the crimson's fall schedule, but the straw that broke the Tiger's back had come from students rather than administration. On the morning of the 1926 game the then-mighty Lampoon published a special issue with a drawing of two pigs wallowing in the mud proclaiming "Come. Brother, let us root for dear old Princeton." And to cap it off, at half-time the Poonies put out a fake CRIMSON headlined "BILL ROPER, PRINCETON COACH, DIES ON FIELD". There was an explanatory drop line: "HRLD BREATH TOO LONG". The ill feeling were pretty generally forgotten by 1934, and the football series sprang up for keeps. Princeton won, incidentally, 19 to 0.

But if Princeton-Harvard bitterness had subsided, the Lampoon had not. Somewhat later in the class of 1938's freshman year, the 'Poon put out its notorious "Esquire" issue, whose contents led the University to shut down the Lampoon building for almost a month and to pressure the publication's officers into an en massage resignation.

Eddie Casey Resigns

Harvard lost to Yale that year, by 10 to 0; and in the succeeding weeks the Harvard sports situation suffered another serious blow with resignation of head football coach Eddie Casey after nine years on the job.


As examinations moved closer, life showed that distressing tendency to slow down. And just to keep the undergraduates honest, the University discontinued the sale of beer in the College dining halls.

But the fall term wasn't quite over. The administration still had time to appoint Dick Harlow as Harvard's next football coach and to set up a quota limitation on the number of concentrators to be allowed into each Department. The idea of the new plan was to make sure no discipline's tutorial staff was overstrained. President Conant recommended the establishment of several "roving" professorships in his Annual report and urged the abolition of the Latin requirement for the Bachelor of Arts degree.

The first big event of the new term was a visit from the same man the college has so defiantly criticized a few months before--Franklin D. Roosevelt, president of the United States. Roosevelt dropped by for a mid-winter dinner at a final club; a force of over 400 policemen, detectives, and secret service men took detailed precautions to safeguard this Democratic excursion into a land of Republicanism.

The spring proceeded. Baron Kurtvon Tippelskirch, German consul General in Boston, placed a laurel wreath in Memorial Church to honor the four German Harvardmen who had died in the first World War. A day before Hitler had announced the scraping of the Versailles Treaty and the creation of a new German army.

PBH Outs Commuters

This was also a year of revolution for the commuting segment of the undergraduate community. Both Phillips Brooks House and the newly formed commuters House Committee were dissatisfied with an arrangement which allowed 250 day-students into PBH each noon for lunch. The pot boiled over when the PBH cabinet expelled the commuters on June 1, effectively forcing the Administration to provide new quarters. Both sides settled finally upon Dudley Hall, using only the first floor in the beginning and eventually taking over the whole building.

All in all it had been quite a year. Freshman confusion notwithstanding, the University was a pretty lively place in those days--back when Tallulah Bankhead told the undergraduates that drama must never be censored, or when the Student Council made its official pronouncement, entered on record for posterity, against the gentle art of goalpost rioting.

The summer passed unobtrusively and Harvard soon began its 299th year. Almost all other activities between the opening of the Class of 1938's sophomore year and the beginning of the centenary celebration--already looming on the University's horizon--fell in the shadow of a many faceted dispute over the Teacher's Oath Act, which required most instruction in Massachusetts to swear that they would uphold the national and state constitution Kirtley F. Mather, professor of geology, struck back at the Massachusetts Legislature's structure as "unwarranted and dangerous to democracy." Mather claimed to speak for many Faculty members when he said he would not take the oath, because it violated his constitutional rights.

Mather's objection, in reality, was purely a matter of matter of principle; for he had many times previously taken such oaths. And all through his campaign he maintained that he had "no unwillingness to swear under conditions which make an oath appropriate." While a group of seniors circulated a petition supporting him. Mather reconsidered, then retracted his stand is the interest of keeping the University out of a threatened lawsuit.

In December, Lucius N. Littauer 78 gave Harvard $2 million to build an entirely now Graduate School, that of Public Administration, and the University responded quickly and energetically. Within a year, a special committee on university education for public service had reported solidly in favor of the venture and provided detailed plans for its enactment.