Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/81

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UNIVERSITY STANDARDS

houses, and whiles away the forenoon in stunts which teach him his place some more and further his initiation into that innermost, sacredest circle, the knights of the college tradition. Since nothing can be done unless you get student sentiment behind it, the faculty sits in helpless inactivity; or, if the emotions are much stirred, rushes to its laboratories and attempts to think out some serum which will work upon the student mind and permit it to look with favor upon the studies of the college curriculum!

At last, it may be, the freshman is started in his studies. But attending classes and studying lessons is not as he had pictured it. The men whose names and imposing academic biographies had awed him from the pages of the college catalogue he must now learn to look at from the angle of his sophisticated companions. This one, frankly, is a chump; this other can be counted on to do the fair thing and not flunk a fellow; that one will be down on you anyhow. One is to be worked in one way; another, in another way. In this class you can safely cut as much as you like; in this other it is necessary to look after answering roll call. The main object is to keep from flunking out; for as yet absolute immunity has not been achieved, and real college life is too pleasurable to be hazarded too far. Getting something from the course is at least secondary. Getting the credit at present seems necessary, and, when hard pressed, one's wits need to be well sharpened. Why should one be too scrupulous, since it is only the book account that matters? Bluffing runs naturally into something more effective, and the freshman sees the game of cheating going on almost as a matter of course. Sometimes the instructor seems to him to be aware of the game, but too embarrassed to call for the cards; can not afford, in fact, to become unpopular, for may not the instructor's comfort, not to say his standing in the college, depend on the good will of the student? Once in a while the committee—blankety symbol of all that is hateful in an otherwise lovely environment—the committee connects with some luckless offender, who, bruised and bewildered, presently finds himself at the edge of the campus. All of which would be tragic, were it not so grotesque, for but a single head has been hit out of a multitude just below the line of breastworks. More and more absorbing are the activities of the college of student life; more and more the faculty's college and its obtrusive exercises become an incubus, more and more its occasional interferences become irritating and objects of student wrath. Dissipation masks as good fellowship. The grosser temptations lose horns and hoof. The freshman himself may be nor athlete, nor actor, nor editor, nor society devotee. But he learns to be vicariously active in all these pursuits; in an atmosphere of hazing, shamming, bleachering, beating the game, his whole moral and intellectual structure suffers irreparable shock.