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eccentricities in undergraduate judgment that many boys cultivate irresponsibility with a view to social success. Social ambition is the strongest power in many a student's college life, a power compared with which all the rules and all the threats of the Faculty, who blindly ignore it, are impotent, a power that robs boys of their independence, leading them to do things foolish or worse and thereby to defeat their own end. For in the long run, - in the later years of the college course, the “not there" and the "there" can be clearly distinguished. A student may be poor, he may not play poker, he may not drink, he may be free from all vice, he may not even smoke; and yet, if his virtue is not showy, he will be popular - provided he “does something for his class." "He is a bully fellow," the students say. “He is in training all the time."
I say little of responsibility to younger students. An older student who misleads a younger gets just about the name he deserves. Even the Sophomore who seriously hazes a Freshman is now in the better colleges recognized as a coward. Cowardice once recognized, cannot long prevail ; yet there was a time when it took a deal of courage for a few young men in one of our great colleges to stop an outbreak of hazing. It took a deal of courage; but they did it. After all, a student admires nothing so much as “sand.” What he needs is to see that “sand” belongs not merely in war and athletics, but in everyday life, and that in everyday life “sand” may be accumulated. A Harvard student, it is said, was nearly dressed one morning and was choosing a necktie, when his door, which with the carelessness of youth he had left unlocked, suddenly opened. A woman entered, closed the door behind her, put her back to it, and said, “I want fifty dollars. If you don't give it to me, I shall scream.” The young man, still examining his neckties, quietly replied,
“ You'd better holler;" and the woman went out. Had he given her money, had he even paid serious attention to her threat, he might have been in her power for life; but his coolness saved him. Another undergraduate, who before coming to college had worked as an engineer, and who was a few years older than most of his class, went one evening to an officer of the college who knew something of him, and said, “I hardly know just how I ought to speak to you ; but in my building there is a Freshman who is going to pieces, and a Senior who is largely responsible for it.” He then told what he had seen, and gave the names of both men. “If I look this up,” said the college officer, "are you willing to appear in it? Are you willing to have your name known?” “I'd rather not be queered,'” he answered; "but if it is necessary to be 'queered,' I will be." All this happened in a college which employs no spies and discourages tale
bearing. For anything the student knew, the officer himself might think him a malicious informer. The “sand” in the hero of the first of these little stories any boy would see. To see the “sand" in the hero of the second takes some experience; but “sand,” and “sand” of the finest quality, was there. This man's notion of the responsibility of older students to younger ones had in it something positive. “You have no idea,” said a senator to Father Taylor, the sailor preacher, who had rebuked him for his vote, “You have no idea what the outside pressure was.” “Outside pressure, Mr. Senator! Outside pressure ! Where were your inside braces ?” To run the risk of being thought a common informer when you are not, and to run it because you cannot let a man go under without trying to pull him out, requires such inside braces as few undergraduates possess.
Let me say, however, that there is no
better hope for Harvard College than in the readiness of the strong to help the weak. A youth is summoned to the college office, behindhand in his work, and bad in his way of living. The Faculty has done its best for him, and to no purpose. A student of acknowledged standing in athletics and in personal character appears at the office, and says, “I should like to see whether I can make that man work and keep him straight.” This, or something like this, occurs so often that it is an important part of the college life. Moreover, when the strong man comes, he does not come with the foolish notion that he shall help the weak man in the eyes of the college office by pretending that he is not weak. He takes the case as it stands, knowing that his own purpose and that of the college office are one and the same, - to keep the student, if he can be made into a man, and otherwise in all kindness to send him home.