Richard Teller Crane.

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The Demoralization of
College Life

Report of an Investigation at Harvard
and a Reply to My Critics



Founder and President of Crane Co., Chicago

Additional Copies of This Pamphlet, also Copies of the Following

Pamphlets, May Be Had on Application to

Crane Co., Chicago :

The Futility of Higher Schooling

(An Address to College Students)

The Futility of Technical Schools

In Connection with Mechanics and Manufacturing or Electrical and

Civil Engineering

(An Address to College Students)

Common Schools vs. The University
of Illinois


HIGHER SCHOOLING (331 Pages), May Be Obtained

from A. C. McCIurg & Co., Chicago, or The Baker

& Taylor Co., New York. Price, $1.00 Net.


The Demoralization of
College Life

Report of an Investigation at Harvard
and a Reply to My Critics



Founder and President of Crane Co., Chicago



V •

The Demoralization of College Life



It is well known that I am out of all sympathy with educational
institutions, so-called, beyond the common school. I believe that
time and money are spent with no adequate return, and that six
to eight years of the lives of our boys are worse than wasted through
the folly of American parents, who are hoping thereby to equip
their sons for a successful business career and to see them in char-
acter and purpose a credit to the home and the nation.

My investigations have covered several years — ten at least —
brought about by my actual sorrow in seeing so many boys and
young men a drain and a burden upon society through their inability
to achieve success in any creditable calling. I have corresponded
with many hundreds of college men; I have watched them in all
trades and professions ; I have left no stone unturned to ascertain
exact facts, to learn the unvarnished truth, and I have been com-
pelled to conclude that the years between the ages of fourteen and
twenty-two are being thrown away by thousands who under sensible
conditions would make a success in life.

My book on " The Utility of All Kinds of Higher Schooling "
was the result of some of these investigations. This was followed
by a pamphlet on ' ' The Futility of Higher Schooling ' ' ; or, more
properly, a talk to college students, and this in turn by a pamphlet
on "The Futility of Technical Schools," being a talk to technical-
school students.
<^i Although many colleges acknowledged that I was largely correct

in my position that these institutions are doing little in the way of
^ developing business capacity or insuring business success, they did
claim that they were accomplishing something far better; that is,
qj that they were builders of character. But feeling very doubtful as
^ to the truth of this assertion and seeing many statements from the
^T press and the public, from college authorities and college students
i — j themselves, concerning the demoralizing influence of college life, I


determined about eight years ago to have an investigation made for
the purpose of ascertaining the truth or falsehood of these claims.


Let it be understood distinctly at the very outset that I am not
the author of the following pages. The report is from a college
man, and the general compilation is from college sources and the
press. It is folly, therefore, for my critics to attempt to deceive the
public by pretending that I have made up this story. The only
portion of the article which is my own is that giving my conclusions,
and with this I think every fair-minded person, after a careful and
thorough perusal of the evidence, must agree.



The selection of Harvard University was due to the fact that I
was enjoying a visit from an old friend residing in Cambridge who
was a man of exceptional ability and large experience in life, and
who seemed to be of the opinion that this subject was worthy a
thorough investigation. His interest was such as to cause him to
consent, at my request, to find a man whom he could recommend
for this work. He found such a man in the person of one who was
a resident of Cambridge, had been a student at Harvard, and was
then a reporter on a prominent newspaper in Boston, and without
knowing personally of this young man's opinions or inclinations I
engaged him. The facts of his residence at Cambridge and his
attendance at Harvard were much in his favor, and being a reporter
on a highly respectable paper in Boston (a position which I believe
he still enjoys) gave evidence that he was a man of character, dis-
crimination and judgment. I think a much longer search would
not have found a man better calculated to make a true, unvarnished
report, and I feel that this is a sufficient reply to those critics who
claim that the gentleman was engaged by me for the purpose of
making an exaggerated report and one that would be detrimental
to the colleges. It seems to me much more likely that his inclina-
tion would have led him to favor the colleges, rather than to make
an exaggerated report. But suppose he did exaggerate conditions
one hundred per cent, they would have been bad enough then to
attract attention and demand some action. I have not the slightest
doubt that everyone who knows anything about our colleges realizes
that much evil exists in all of them.


For a long time I refrained from giving this report to the public
because it was so nauseating in its details, revealing a state of things
in our colleges which should bring the blush of shame to every true
citizen; but I Was persuaded finally that the interests of society
demanded its publication, and a portion of it appeared in The
Valve World for August, 1911. The great interest shown by the
public in this matter has induced me to now publish the full report
— excepting a few portions which are unfit for publication — at
the same time adding some collateral material of general interest.


No instructions were given my investigator, but later I wrote
him the following letters :

(November 27, 1903.) "In all such large institutions there is
sure to be quite a number that will go to the bad, and the vital
question is to determine something of the proportion of this class
to the whole number of students. The next idea would be to deter-
mine whether the surroundings of the college have any very decided
tendency in the way of demoralizing the boys. Of course as a
counter idea to this would be to show how largely the habit of
industry in study and correct living prevails, if that can be shown
in a marked manner, so on this line it might be well to show the
other side of the question ; that is, the boys that do not frequent
the haunts and to show how they spend their evenings."

(December 9, 1903.) "I acknowledge receipt of your report
dealing with the conduct of college men. This, I think, shows a
pretty bad state of things, but in determining whether there is
anything radically wrong to criticise in this direction everything
depends upon the relative proportion of the bad conduct to the
good, and I do not know how I could put my ideas on this whole
subject before you any better than I did in my letter of November
27. I wish you would give me your general views along the lines
of this letter, especially showing up what evidences there are of
those who conduct themselves properly. The establishment of the
resort you speak of and which is sort of a club, but is open to all
students, and where the boys meet in the evening to play pool and
their mandolins and drink beer, I would not consider as an objec-
tionable institution, as boys must have some relaxation, and I
know of nothing better than this sort ; so I would regard this insti-
tution, if properly conducted, as I suppose it is, as being all right.*

*This club, as the report shows, was established for the purpose of counter-
acting the evil influence existing in the social life at Harvard, which was my
reason for stating in my letter that I approved of its existence, it being some-
thing in the way of a compromise.

The great question in connection with this, as I have said, is what
proportion of the boys go to these bad resorts of which you speak. ' '

The foregoing shows conclusively that I was not looking for
exceptional cases, but was trying to ascertain whether habits of
industry or habits of lawlessness, whether vice or virtue, were domi-
nating these schools of so-called "higher learning."


Before proceeding further, I quote the following from an edi-
torial in the San Jose Herald, of September 19, 1911, wherein an
old college man has something to say concerning the- old-time man-
agement at Harvard University :

"We are bound to voice our own strong conviction that almost
every remnant of effective moral discipline has disappeared from 4
our larger colleges and universities.

"Those of us who were in college a good many years ago, when
we now visit our own or other colleges can not but note the very
great change that has come in this regard. Forty years and more
ago in all the reputable colleges of the country discipline was a
reality. The standard of conduct, industry and subordination was
fairly high, and it was maintained. Particularly was there a code
of morals which was reasonably strict and which was enforced with
reasonable strictness. The community life was regulated by whole-
some laws and these laws were far from being a dead letter. The
incorrigibly idle, the insubordinate, and especially the profligate
and vicious were remorselessly eliminated. And if suspended or
expelled they had to leave the college premises, not merly pro forma
but really and actually. For instance, a man expelled from Har-
vard had to leave Cambridge unless that was his proper home, and
in that case he could not set foot within the college precincts. That
was the law of the college and of Massachusetts. In no good college
were students allowed to come and go, work or play, or in general
live as they pleased. The authorities of the college undertook not
only to instruct these young men in the classroom, but they also
accepted responsibility for their moral conduct while under their
care, and they were clothed with ample authority to meet this
responsibility. They became the ^mentors, guides and governors
of the youth entrusted to their charge. ' '

The report of my investigator, which now follows, shows some-
thing of the extent to which college life at this university has
degenerated ;


(December 7, 1903.) "I submit herewith report along the lines
suggested by you pertaining to student life.

"My report is based on observations made at the Hotel

for the past fourteen evenings, between the hours of 8 and 12
o'clock, in the restaurant of the hotel. I have taken pains to note
what I have considered the important facts."

Sunday, November 22, 1903.

Eleven students dropped into the restaurant, between the hours
of 8 and 12. Enthusiasm at no great height probably owing to
defeat by Yale on day previous. Three students left at 11 :30
o'clock in bad state of intoxication. Four others left later with as
many girls of seemingly questionable character. Other students
present acted in an orderly manner. No freshmen present.

Monday, November 23.

Seventeen students entered shortly after closing of theaters.
Majority freshmen. Shortly after 11 o'clock a party of freshmen
entered, demanded drinks, and were refused on account of the
"Blue Law" existing in Boston which permits of no intoxicating
drinks being sold after 11 o'clock. After sharp altercation with
the waiter they were ordered from the dining-room. They left
peaceably. One party, composed of four freshmen and four girls
from the English Daisy Company, ordered before 11 o'clock ten
bottles of Mumm's. In addition to this order innumerable mixed
drinks were served, with the result that two of the students, after a
most disgusting exhibition of vomiting, were ejected in rough style
by the waiters.

I have noticed at this hotel that the management is becoming
very hostile, indeed, to Harvard students. I learned, also, that
patronage of the students had fallen off perceptibly in the last two
years for this reason alone.

At about 11 :45 two fellows (very respectably dressed, but not
students, so far as I could determine) approached the girls left
entirely alone by their escorts who had adjourned to a room upstairs.
A few minutes later the two freshmen, still able to move about with
some self-control, returned to the dining-room, and seeing the
two intruders, immediately addressed some insulting remarks to
them, with the result that one of the freshmen was caught under
the chin with a hard fisticuff. A fight ensued, but the partially
intoxicated freshmen were easily overcome, and the entire party,
including the girls, forthwith ejected. Later the girls returned and
were "picked up" by two law-school students living in Cambridge.
At 12 :15 six students left the hotel with as many women. The
majority of the remainder hurried away to catch the last car, which
leaves the Boylston street subway for Cambridge at 12 :25.

Tuesday, November 24.

Fifteen students visited the , nine of whom were pres-
ent the night before. The four freshmen present the night before
were refused seats on the pretext of all tables being engaged. A
fellow at next table cashed a cheek for $40 in order to pay score for
evening. Three students were with him. No fights.

Wednesday, November 25.

Despite the fact that to-morrow is Thanksgiving and many had
returned to their homes to spend the day, twenty-one students came
in. They made considerable noise and drank very freely. Several
girls came in and were immediately "picked up." The head waiter
refused to serve any more wine to one party of four, who arose,
roundly abused and insulted him, and then left with the assurance
that they knew where more might be found. The waiter knew the
young men well and says they are living lives of great debauchery.
Four of the girls who had been "picked up" are members of an
operatic company and went to their rooms in this hotel accom-
panied by young men. All the young men who had come in earlier
left around midnight badly intoxicated.

Thursday, November 27.

The cafe was full the whole evening, and students were much in
evidence. Thirty-seven stayed, while many came in and not being
familiar with the head waiter were turned away. Only the fact
that I had been here regularly for the past few days accounts for
my getting a seat.

Every young man who came in was asked : ' ' Have you got
ladies ? ' ' And a negative reply was bruskly answered ' ' No seats. ' '

The management is much to be condemned for condoning, and
even stimulating, debauchery.

The students were very lawless. Several fights were averted
only by good luck. The drinking was very free. A party of four
near me ordered seven bottles of champagne. They left the place
at 11 o'clock and got into a hack and were driven away. I find
that several students are "keeping" women at this hotel. Four of
them are of well-known New York families. These spend their
evenings up-stairs, and are frequently served with drinks.

Saturday, November 29.

Fifty-nine students were present. It was one of the biggest
evening's work yet done in this hostelry and house of debauch.
Waiters were powerless to preserve order. Two policemen came in
at 11 :45 to remove three of the more objectionable. Songs were
started several times during the evening by the students, but were
immediately hushed. One man was severely cut about the head
by a wine glass. Free fight in one corner of the room early in the
evening. At the letting out of the theaters a vast concourse of

chorus girls put in an appearance. Rough house reigned supreme
from 11 to 11 :30. One waiter, while carrying a tray of drinks,
was struck, or rather tripped up, and the contents of the tray fell
to the floor. The majority of the students present I should say
were drunk. The general run of drinks were cocktails, champagne
and gin fizzes. One fellow stepped up to a small freshman and,
without any excuse whatever, struck him in the face. The fresh-
man wore glasses, and it was a miracle that his eyes were not put
out. Later in the evening a law-school man (I understand that he
is an old Princeton graduate) walked into the hallway where the
big student was standing and took him severely to task for his act.
A fight ensued, which was fortunately brought to an end by the
timely interference of witnesses. The young men who were in
evidence the past few evenings were present this night. They were
drunk, as usual, but fared better at the hands of the waiters than
did the others. Several went away with the chorus girls met in
the restaurant. One young man tipped a waiter $5.

Sunday, November 29.

Everything was comparatively quiet. About 9 o'clock a well-
dressed girl entered the cafe, in company with a student who was
to all appearances under the influence of liquor. He remained with
the girl but a short time, when, on some pretext or other, he suddenly
rushed to the doorway and was not seen again. He had left with the
girl some money, however, so the girl did not seem to be at all wor-
ried about his action. Being desirous of learning the other side of
the story, I addressed the girl and spent nearly an hour and a half
in her company. Her stories pertaining to Harvard men were of the
most interesting sort. She knew well nigh every Harvard man who

ever had sporty tendencies. She gave me her address as

and stated that her's was a house of ill-repute and that Harvard
men were frequenters of the resort to a large degree.

She stated that she knew the best fellows at college, and once
had visited the home of one of her friends and passed as the fiance
of her student admirer. She had received several proposals from
students and had accepted two. She stated that she would never
leave her present life, however, and would never have to as long as
she had a paint box, good health and plenty of student admirers.
Her estimation of the good qualities of students was not the best of
recommendations. She maintained, however, that she never knew a
"mucker" among them, and that, though an erratic lot, they were,
in the main, true blue. Our conversation was finally cut short by
the approach of an old Harvard friend of hers who was in college
several years ago.

Monday, November 30.

Twenty-one students were present; thirteen freshmen. By the
end of the evening seventeen left in a state of intoxication ; eleven
of these with women. Of these young men who left with women, I


feel certain that the majority of them came to the restaurant with
no worse purpose than that of drinking a few glasses of wine, but
the girls present inveigled them into going out with them. There
was extra care taken this evening to prevent a recurrence of the
rough house of the Saturday previous. Two men were ejected
early in the evening.

Although I speak entirely of students among this crowd which

frequented the there is also an objectionable element which

has no claim to the college at Cambridge. These outsiders also come
in for their share of rough handling by the management and the
attention of the girls who frequent the place. One fellow, whose
father is a Standard Oil magnate and connected with several rail-
roads in the West, paid a bill for drinks of over $60.

Three drunken women w r ere also "picked up" by one fellow
whom I took to be a freshman. After the wine bill had been settled
they ignored him and flirted with a couple of other fellows, who,
by the way, I did not believe to be Harvard men. The head waiter
was particularly objectionable to a party of four students, who
left stating they would never again enter the place. In most
instances suppers were ordered. I might add that it is the custom
for the most part for the students to take food with their drinks.

I learned that the is another favorite resort of the students,

as is also the , the and the . At the latter two

resorts, however, there are no serious rough houses, although I
understand more money is generally spent for drinks.

Wednesday, December 2.

There was a fight in progress when I arrived at the hotel, at
7 :45. Two young men with girls stated that several students had
insulted them. I gathered later that they had tried to get the girls
to stay with them. The fight was pretty rough for a few minutes,
when the students were ejected. Twenty-nine students came into
the cafe to-night. With rare exceptions they drifted out pretty
well under the influence of liquor. The only occasion of a girl's
being turned away since my investigation began took place to-night.
This girl, it is said, has a malignant disease. She was later "picked
up" by a student and the two entered a hack and were driven
away. Cocktails were almost universally taken by the students.
Several of the students went up in the elevator, presumably to see
women, as there are only bedrooms above the second floor.

Thursday, December 3.

A party of students from one of the prominent clubs at Cam-
bridge came in to have dinner before going to the theater. They
got very intoxicated. Two of them made "dates" with girls to
meet them after the show. During the evening thirty-four drifted
in. These left the place in much the same condition as their prede-
cessors. Two had come in automobiles and "picked up" two girls
and steamed off.


There is a man in evidence at the cafe almost every evening,
who seems to know many students well. He poses as a good fellow.
He frequently introduces students to women. I have discovered
that he earns his living in this manner. He is the "middle man."
He has a most disastrous influence, but seems to feel quite secure in
his position.

Although the students pay little attention to him when they
do not need his services, they not infrequently drop in and ask if

this fellow has been in. This man is . He has a den on

. I can give you many additional facts regarding him

should you desire.

Friday, December 4.

. About thirty-five students dropped in between the hours of 10
and 12. All of them ordered drinks of one kind and another.
There was no special hilarity. As usual, fellows would address any
pretty girl who happened to drop in. A couple late in the evening
were sitting in one of the corners. Suddenly, after the meal, the
fellow, not a student, arose and started for the door on some pre-
text or other. The girl cried out: "Oh, don't go, George. I'll be
disgraced sitting here with all these drunken students. I will be at
their mercy." The fellow looked somewhat perturbed, then looking
about him he spied a freshman sitting at the next table. "Would
you mind sitting with my friend until I return?" he said, politely.
The freshman, somewhat flattered by the honor, said, "Oh, no,"
and took his seat at the table with the girl. But no escort returned.
Soon the waiter appeared with the bill, and it must have been a
steep one the way that freshman opened his eyes.

The freshman, of course, had to settle for the dinner that the
other fellow had enjoyed. This is but an illustration of the sort
of thing that the student runs up against when he degrades him-
self so much as to resort to this low life. As usual, the majority of
students left in a more or less inebriated condition. There was
nothing particularly disorderly during the evening.

Saturday, December 5.

About sixty students found their way to the to-night.

Shortly after 10 o'clock the head waiter refused to seat any more,
whereupon there was considerable dissension on the part of a few
students, since there appeared to be plenty of seating room in the
cafe. As soon as the unseated secured ladies, however, the problem
was solved and seats and tables were readily found. Two very tall
students entered a little after 11 o'clock in a state of intoxication.
Being unable to secure drinks, they seized a bottle of champagne
from a neighboring table and a fight was nearly started. The two
students paid for the bottle they had stolen and matters were
thereby straightened out. The same freshmen who have been fre-
quenting the place for the past two weeks were present. There
were about twelve of these habitues present. Ladies are not allowed


to smoke in the dining-room. Consequently when one half-drunk

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Online LibraryRichard Teller CraneThe demoralization of college life. Report of an investigation at Harvard and a reply to my critics → online text (page 1 of 4)