Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/78

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supplanting of the old self-improvement, or culture, theory by the German ideal of scholarship gave a tremendous impulse to serious college work. And with serious college work in hand, both the old paternalism and the childishness of the schoolboy college must necessarily slough off. "I will not ask you to be true to us," President White said at the opening of Cornell University in 1868. "I will ask you to be true to yourselves. In Heaven's name be men! Is it not time that some poor student traditions be supplanted by better? You are not here to be made; you are here to make yourselves. You are not here to hang upon a university; you are here to help build a university. This is no place for children's tricks and toys, for exploits which only excite the wonderment of boarding-school misses. You are here to begin a man's work in the greatest time and land the world has yet known." Cornell students responded to this appeal, and so did students the country over to similar appeals. Throwing dead cats through class room windows, locking professors in their rooms, muffling college bells, levitating domestic animals to third-floor chapels, and like customs, though they died hard, actually died. Definiteness of purpose was given to college study. The new subjects, with their fresh and unexplored fields, absorbed the student and gave him a seriousness his predecessor had lacked. A manlier attitude prevailed. Co-education began to arrive; and in all the state universities particularly, the presence of a body of serious-minded young women did much to elevate the atmosphere of college life. The superfluous energies of youth heretofore wasted in boyish tricks and worse turned to athletic sports, and to developing, one after the other, the twenty-seven activities Mr. Birdseye has noted. The testimony to the improvement in manners and morals within the student body is overwhelming. Petty regulations and rules of conduct atrophied and dropped off. College students began to be regarded and to feel as men and women, with responsibility for their own conduct—to the profit of all and to the immense relief of college authorities.

The flowering period of this cycle may be roughly fixed as the twenty-five years from 1870 to 1895. All went well so long as the impulse set free by the liberalizing of the college curriculum lasted, and while the college constituency was essentially homogeneous. In the later years certain vital changes were taking place, partly as the result of these very movements, partly from influences outside the college. Wealth and luxury became widely diffused. The schools multiplied and were free, and the opportunity of school and college came without effort. Going to college became part of the ordinary routine of a boy's and girl's life. With youths that were earnest there came also to college doors troops of the unearnest. The twenty-seven student activities became more and more engrossing. Within the college boundaries