« ПретходнаНастави »
THE LAST OF THE SOPHOMORE SOCIETIES,
Gerald D. Morgan. 147
.E. Lyttleton For 154
THE LAST OF THE SOPHOMORE SOCIETIES. BY Y their action last month, the Faculty have put an end
to the Sophomore societies. This is of course an admission that they could find no other solution for the problem; moreover they will very soon find themselves discussing a new question exactly like the old one in the Junior society question. Since it has been frequently asserted that the fraternities are dependent upon the Sophomore societies, what will they do after their support is withdrawn?
Two of the present Sophomore societies were formed about twenty years ago, the first ostensibly as a debating club. Their aim in their foundation was to supply a quiet club—the opposite of the large underclass societies which had formerly flourished—which should give offense neither to the faculty nor to the undergraduates. Thereupon they went about the first business of all societies—that of electing members from the succeeding class; and for fifteen years they quietly existed unrecognized by the faculty, unnoticed by college agitators and regarded by the members themselves as clubs, not as organizations.
Now the reason for this apparent indifference was that the societies were sufficiently small. It was well known, both in and out of them, that they did not comprise all the best men in the class; their size made this impossible. Sequent to this point of view, if they overestimated a man in electing him, their after opinion would not differ from that of the class. There was no charge of “dragging men along,” and the thing which is now known as Sophomore society politics was then unheard of.
A few years ago, a third society was organized with the best wishes of the first two and without a single protest. It was not to be denied that there was room for three; and nobody realized that the class would mark a difference between thirty-four men and fifty-one. But the third society was quite naturally unwilling to occupy third place; and from that time the Sophomore campaigns took on an entirely different aspect. Before its foundation, the rivalry of the first two was of a friendly character—as has never been the case since. The campaigns were of a much more hostile sort than ever before, and, whatever may be said to the contrary, extended beyond Freshman year. Organized attempts were made upon the class offices and occasionally in a way which was resented by the class. The agitation consequent upon this is only too well known; carried on both by graduates and undergraduates, both by members and non-members, it has eventually resulted in the downfall and extinction of the Sophomore societies. Plans for reorganization and reform were widely, indeed too widely discussed; and all were rejected as impracticable or unfair to some element. Then the faculty followed the method of the celebrated Alexander, thereby showing that they at least saw no other escape from the difficulty.
There is, therefore, certainly no reason to discuss further the defects of the Sophomore society system; notoriety was their greatest danger, and when superfluous activity brought that notoriety, they naturally lost ground until their final reckoning with the Faculty. There now exists an entirely different state of affairs; the Junior societies, left to their own resources, must take up this political problem. Are they to make elections as heretofore? Or are they to try to take the place of the Sophomore societies, and begin to campaign in Freshman year? Are they to work with a general campaign committee? Or are they to be put upon a competitive basis? All these questions must be answered, and there is only one body which should do this—the Junior fraternities themselves.
It is their business, and something which must be faced. Now there is no reason why all graduates, or faculty members, or publications should publish their views; a reform of this sort not only needs time, but also experiment. Placed as they are, the Junior societies will undoubtedly do their utmost to reach a satisfactory conclusion, and that as soon as possible. Agitation can do no possible good; and there is no reason why the society system of Yale University should be notorious from one end of the country to the other. Such open argument is always undignified, and generally illogical. A society at Yale must exist for the good of the college; but the impression given by the Sophomore discussion was that the societies were political rings. The social system of Yale ought not to be “copy” for New York newspapers; and if the Junior fraternities cannot at first solve the approaching problem, then let the whole University remember former agitations, and recall the harmful inefficiency of former tirades. Let those whose office it is complete the work—the Junior societies.
Gerald D. Morgan.