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January 06, 1924 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1924-01-06

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What I Think of American Colleges
American Students
Wereceived a letter recently from ent demand for education-the pres- things-the power of concentrated way for mankind, which is the real
George D. Pratt Jr., Executive Secre- ent rush towards the universities. I study and thought, and the power of hope of the world today. I was dis-
tary of The National Student Forum, have h ard of men who treat their self-mastery. If education does not appointed that they think so little
which serves as an explanation for four varsity years as a period in which help him to these, it has failed. Many about the great political issues and
the following article, simply to "play about"; of girls who students confessed to me that they that their thinking is so conventional.
New York, N. Y. go to college merely "to have a good were living in the distracted way I I was dismayed at the number of them
December 6, 1923 time." But when all such facts have have been discussing. And they had who seemed inclined to believe the
To the Editor: I been allowed for I believe you have a clear sense that emotionally, moral- papers and who will become later
Following up my letter of recent a greater impulse towards education ly and spiritually it is very bad for on the victims of mere fashion and
date referring in part to what is be- than ay other nation and that even- them. Colleges that send out gradu- the dupes of popular orators. Hith-
ing said about American colleges and tually you will get it-as a nation. ates with superficial minds are fail- erto I had believed that youth is uni-
American college students, I want to And then unless materialism should ing the nation. But the system now versally the period of criticism. I
eal your attention to the enclosed dominate your colleges, you will go in vogue makes for that superflcial- do not know whether this state of
article by that eminent Setsman, A. ; an to very great things. dty. matters is the cause or the proact
Herbert Gray. It was pubished 4u But now' with this Ibackgrosnd of Your students are strangely doeie of the paternalism which characteriz-
the "Intercollegian" for October, 9.23. ith in you; may I express some crit- in mind. Everywhere else in thej es your institutions. In any case I
* * +clsm otyosr c lepe at Its present world I find the rising generation in deplore it. A student should not be
My dear Porter: stage. It seems to mne that American conscious and intense rebellion simply a person who believes what
' - You asked me to put on paper some college life is to a terrible extent a against the conventions and methods he is told. And a professor should
of my impressions after three months distracted life. Your boys and girls of life and thought which dominated not be simply a source of informa-
spent among the colleges and eniver- dissipate their intense vitality by their fathers, and which led the world tion-but one who provokes and chal-
sities of your catry. I comply very touching tightly a multitude of things. the present disaster. But young lengea thought.
gladly, though I must remind you The name of your ollegeaetivities is Americans are not rebelling. They Shall I be entering un'wisely upon
that th months is after all a very legion. Your students don't worn too are eagerly getting ready to go on dangerous ground if I confess that I
oit m-v, and that I visited only hard, but they put in some work at in the old way. Morally of course attribute much of this to the fact that
-about twenty out of the hundreds of too many things-picking ap "credits" many of them are rebels. They are your colleges are so largely controll-
-stitutio which your country con- here and there in a variga anner, making the same old attempt to dIs- ed by trustees and bodies of alumni?
tains. and over-filling the residue of life card the eternal moral laws which Being one myself I know that an
mnFratil write as one who is lm- with athletic, social, dramatic, liter- every generation has made in Its turn. alumnus is not necessarily either an
ensely ipressed by' America and ary, musical and other miscellaneous They grasp at what they call free- educated or a wise man. And al-
ery greaty attracted by Americans. activities. And this seems to me dom and so doing make many heart- though to be a trustee a man must
Your achierements in the last bun- educationally disastrous. There is breaking mistakes in the way of sex- have succeeded in the money-making
tred and aty years have been a mar- plenty of time in life to learn many ual folly and general dissipation. But world it does not follow that he
velous expression of high vitality, things and engage in many activities intellectually they are docile. I found knows anything about education. If
constructive genius and the daring after college days. But at that time in among them little or none of that your colleges are to be interesting
application of science to the problems life a man is meant to learn two burning passion to discover a new ad stimulating places, surely they
of life. It is true tremendous prob- must be places where thought is free,
Iems still challenge your minds and DREISER intiry fearless, and where controlis
wills. Europeans have poured into in the bands of really yearned, able,
our spacious territories bringing Heavy, heavy, hangs over thy head scientific men.
th them problems so complex and Fine, or superfine? I have often deplored in my own
diffiult that I doubt whether any Theodore Drelser old-he is very, very old. I do not know how many contry the tyranny of custom and
other nation ever had sneb baffling is years he -has lved, perhaps forty, perhaps fifty, but he is very eld. Some- fashion within the student world. Mor-
sues to deal with. To build a rea na-. thing grey and bleak and hurtful, that has bean In the world perhaps for. slty and religion .may be thing left
tion with some dominating common ever, Is j-sonified in him. to tie discretion of the Individual, but
convitions to gie unity to its life WhenDrser Is gne men shl write books, may of them, and In the woe betide the man who does any 4f
out ~the "things which are no donne." so
ofsuch polyglot elemgents Is per- books a -ey alli write Weye will be so many of the qualities that Dreser doe "ashi h ae of d n
sthe most stupendous task to eks. The .new, tkye ynger men shall have a sense of humor, and every does -shio a the a o w a
hich any nation was ever called. one knows that Dresser has no sense of humor. .More than that, American gospel. But in your land. of iberty
But I believe you will achieve it. prose writers shall have grace, Lighiness of touch, a dream of heanty b I found things no better. "Cootpsl-
With my naturally critical Scotch ing through the husks of li"a. sory conformity" seems to be the rule
mind I have seen many things in 4) those who follow him shall have many things that Dreiser does not an -wat thoe no in ar
your national life which your best have.. This is a part of the wonder and beauty of Theodore Drelser, the niite sad c hu s eoto 4o
friends could not fail to deplore. It ttings that others shall have, because of him. does anod ltubs may seys to.e
saddens a visitor to find so many of! Long ago, when he was editor of the "Delineator," Dreser went one fraternity a good thing? Is it good
- the familiar evils of European capt- day, with a woman friend, to visit an orphan asylum. The woman once told that social control should be made so
tals reproduced in places like Chi- sue the story of that afternoon in the big, grey, ugly building, with Dreiser, dominating? I was immensely at-
cago and New York. But I believe lotAIg heavy and lumpy and old, sitting on a platform, folding and re- trcted and charmed by much that I
you are going to win through. I be- folding iis pocket-handkerchief and watching the children-all in their aw in fraternity houses . I shall
lieve it because apart from occasion- 1 little uniforms, trooping in. never ceaseto think with pleasure shall
a1 Fourth-of-July moods, your own - "The tears ran down his cheeks and he shook his head," the woman the delightful courtesy and hospitality
minds are so open to the evils in your ,aul,, and that is a real picture of Theodore Dreiser. .He is old in spirit and extended to me in them by some young
midst. You do not shirk the facts. he does not know what to do with life, so he tells about it as he sees it, Americans. But the above questions
Ya are not afraid of commissions of usImply and honestly. The tears run down his cheeks and he folds and remained to hasi me none the less.
Inquiry. In some +especta you are refolds his pocket-handkerchief and shakes his head.
lees hypocritical than any nation I heavy, heavy, the feet of Theodore. How easy to pick some of his books Perhaps I may sum up my impres-
know. And I feel cno. fident that the to pieces, to laugh at him for his heavy prose. sions in this whole connection by say-
Th conquering and inventive gen- The feet of Theodore are making a path, the heavy brutal feet. They Lug frankly what I felt about Ameri-
lus which faced and solved the prob- are tramping through the wilderness of lies, making a path. Presently the can students in the mass. I thought
territories, prairieu and the r irginads ii, will e a street, with great arches overhead and delicately carved them most lovable people. They are
teritories, which built your railroads, pi "es piercing the sky. Along the street will run children shouting, "Look full of life and joy and wit. They are
yur cities and your industries, will at n Se what I ad my fellows of the new day have done"-forgetting frank, good to look at, and happy.
In time triumph also over the prob- the hE vv. feet of Oscnes. -nyepester bnatvtlt

* - . 2j °'t They express their abundant vitality
leams of your moral and social life. A I h fellows of te ink-pots, the prose writers in America will have in uncounted ways and live a many-
least unless your sons are unworthy rho t t e has never done. Their road is long, but because of him, sided life that is full of charm of a
of your forefathers; unless the i lyho felow wi never have to face the road through the wilderness . kind.. They have abundant good will.
pioner sirithas anised fom te ofIrntnn denial,. tbe road that Dreiser$ faced alone.Thyn
land; unless material rrospcrity 7a e-Ay ha banser thy he. - They respond quickly to ideals. I
heavy,thought them affectionate and sin-
made you soft. Fine, or superfine? cere. Many of them know quite a lot
Ohall thet mr a aa or , te aIf rid s nd Men bs Shoerw ood ranern. before they leave college. But w'th
tr'y permission of B. W. Huebach, Ine. (Continued on -a; TP-,-

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