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Reply to “jewish Daily Bulletin” Inquiry Describes Situation at Harvard

October 25, 1926
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The result of the inquiry conducted by the “Jewish Daily Bulletin” regarding the alleged existence of discrimination against Jewish students in American universities caused considerable interest in wide circles. Satisfaction was expressed that the facts of the situation were presented, proving that the charges of discrimination in the admission of Jewish students and during the course of their studies were unfounded. The inquiry also showed that while the university authorities did not practice discrimination, some discriminatory tendencies are complained of in the social aspect of student life.

We quote below one of the numerous replies to the inquiry. It is of particular significance, coming as does, from Harvard University. The correspondent states:

“Harvard is adopting the psychological and character tests this September. There was a claim that Jews were discriminated against in the famous “newspaper reformation” of a year or two ago, and the college, to shut off all talk, adopted the upper-seventh-of-the-class scheme. I do not believe Jewish scheme. I do not believe Jewish students are discriminated against in the classroom, or in the offices of the administration to any noticeable extent.

“The discrimination lies in extra-curricular activities. Jews are practically unknown in the editorial boards of the college daily (“Crimson”) and the college humorous magazine (“Lampoon”). And they are kept out of the drama clubs (Pit Eta and Hasty Pudding) excepting in rare cases, although they are readily admitted to the Harvard Dramatic Club. They are allowed in musical organizations but each musical group has an “elected-to-membership” group — a sort of nucleus which runs the larger group — into which Jews have hard times getting into.

“Although the records of the Phi Beta Kappa are quite closed, there is positive information about that the past three years have seen election to that society based on a far from scholarship standard. Twenty-two out of the upper forty seniors are to be chosen and on several occasions noses instead of marks have been examined. The cases are too flagrant to ignore.

“The number of Jewish students at Harvard has increased. As to dormitories– Yes. They are grouped together as room-mates in the Freshman year. (In the case of those solitary individuals who want to room “double” and send in their names to be mated.) In the dormitories allotted to upper classmen Jews are kept out of the older dormitories for which every Junior Senior apjplies for the sake of tradition. A few do not get in. But most find their way into two larger dormitories–Thayer and Matthews Halls.

“As to fraternities. President-Emeritus Eliot squashed the fraternity spirit in Harvard. You find no such conditions as exist at Cornell, U. of P. and other fraternity centers. Club system has arisen. Among the fraternities extant activities are desultory. No Christian fraternity lets in Jews. No Jewish fraternity let in Christians. The clubs: The exclusive “final” clubs keep out Jews unless they have become captains of major teams, or high class officials. I know of only two Jews who have made “finals.” There may be more in the general clubs– the famous Institute of 1770, which has hundreds of members, and the like. A Jew gets in only if he has become famous in major sports.

“All scholarship funds are open to Jews (except a few bequests as those open to a man named ‘Murphy.) The predominant practice is to give to a man who has the marks. He gets money if he says he needs it ($200 to $600) and if he says he doesn’t need it he gets an honorary scholarship. If he’s poor the officers are less critical as to marks. Harvard is liberal and fair in scholarships.

“As to athletics, Jewish students are kept in the background. One or two Jews gain fame in a four year term. I refer to major sports. In minor sports Jews are let in a little more quickly but their number is small.

Of the 82 honor awards made by New York University, 22 were to Jewish students.

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