Again, faculties are adjured 'to become acquainted with their students and to pay them social attentions. Excellent advice—usually where it is not needed! Occasions may not be forced. Social relations spring normally out of other relations. Instructors may rightly be reminded of responsibility and duty, but the up-to-date college, as Mr. Birdseye would phrase it, can not rely on untrained, voluntary service where training and unremitting attention are needed. Nor can the college turn to its dean or adviser and demand of him the physical impossibility of knowing every student and his particular problems and needs.
We may look hopefully to the preceptorial experiment of Princeton; as also upon the system of advisers which California and other institutions are developing with a view to giving the stumbling freshman the guidance he needs, and to saving as much material as possible from the college scrap-heap. There is promise also in the serum treatment of President Lowell, and one may reasonably expect the academic doctors, in the end, to produce a really valuable compound.
Yet these are only palliatives. The effective solution of the problem—the relation of student activities to university standards—is so simple that I hesitate to mention it. It is that the college take charge of its own affairs. Through these later years alma mater has been piling up her equipment, employing more and more professors, proclaiming her wares, absorbed in the task of growing. With some uneasiness, but with affected unconcern, she has seen growing up over against her own growth this monstrous structure of student activities, this artificial world of student life encased in traditions too sacred to be scrutinized and presided over by that stuffed goddess of liberty known as college spirit. Remembering that she once relieved herself of all in loco parentis functions and that all her students are men and women, alma mater has walked gingerly around this mountain and tried her level best to fit into the place assigned her. It is alma mater who has failed to notice the aching tooth or connived to conceal its existence from the doctors of the scholarship committee. It is alma mater who has permitted athletics and dramatics and the social whirls and editorialing and the rest of the twenty-seven activities to go beyond the limits of safety and sanity. It is alma mater who can not bear the responsibility of dropping men from college, who, obsessed with the idea that goodness is not created by legislation, thinks only of serums that may influence student sentiment or grasps at Columbia's peptonized diet as a means of providing degrees for those quite divorced from college study.
Alma mater's helpless concern recalls Mrs. Stetson-Gilman's encounter with the obstacle. Climbing up the mountain one day, she finds a prejudice blocking the path, cutting off the view, and absolutely refusing to move. She makes polite request, she argues, she scolds, she implores—all of no avail.