To the Editors of the Crimson:
I have lived in Cambridge for over two decades. My daughter is a Radcliffe graduate and my two sons-in-law have Harvard degrees and live here too. In these years I have had the closest opportunity to observe Harvard University undergraduates, both male and female in my home. Naturally I have drawn many conclusions from these close contacts. But one conclusion stands out which it seems to me, merits the action of this great university in alleviating, if not correcting a situation which to my mind demands action.
It is this--the young men and women who attend the University particularly in the last decade of co-ed houses are faced with a difficult complex social situation--with very little help to aid them in coping with it except from their peers, if that. These young men and women encounter all kinds of new experiences in their relationships with the opposite sex at Harvard, with nowhere to go for guidance but themselves. Conditions for young people today are very different from those that existed in 1915 when Edward Bok, grandfather of the present president of Harvard and editor of the Ladies Home Journal, turned down some photographs of Diaghileff Russian Ballet dancers offered him for publication in the magazine, because the dancers' skirts exposed their knees. He finally published them in the January 1916 issue, after he arranged with an air brush painter at a cost of $600 to lower the skirts a few inches below their knees. Despite changing time Harvard has done little to take cognizance of the changed situation. It lets young men and women wrestle with problems of the sexual and emotional relationships they face while they study Plato, Aristotle. Wittgenstein, Kant and other philosophers.
My recommendation is the University catch up with its cultural time lag and keep pace with the realities of masculine and feminine life today by initiating courses on human relations. They would provide young people with knowledge and understanding of the situations they are faced with and how to deal with them. I have made the suggestion to several members of the faculty. They expressed the thought to me that such instruction would interfere with the private lives of the students. Quite the contrary, I believe higher education does not stop with ancient and modern savants but should relate the individual to the highest point of adjustment to contemporary society.
Or possibly before such courses are set up it might he desirable for the University to set up a task force of professors, students, counselors and others to study and explore the situation and make recommendations.
Whatever the course of action decided upon, the situation demands change for the better. Edward L. Bernays