Letters - December 1, 1999

Peter Singer protest

It was disappointing to read of the university's response to the September 21 demonstration by disability advocates protesting the faculty appointment of bioethicist Peter Singer (Notebook, October 20). I do not complain of their arrest, since the protesters actively sought that response through their civil disobedience.

What was troubling was the failure of the university to treat the protesters with the respect that they and their views deserve. The coverage was disturbingly reminiscent of reporting from the South during the civil rights era. The university spokesman dismissed the demonstrators as attention-seekers. "This is their little moment of political theater, and they've been planning it for a while."

Your article even highlighted the irrelevant fact that "None of the arrested were New Jersey residents." We are offered reassurance that no students were involved and that "most expressed indifference to Singer's appointment." The only thing missing from the old segregationist phrase book was the term "outside agitators."

The Singer protests should have occasioned soul-searching and intellectual discourse within the university community. Instead, the university treated the event as a mere public relations matter, with undergraduate indifference apparently counted as a gauge of success.

Gordon Bonnyman, Jr. '69

Nashville, Tenn.

Forbes vs. Singer

It seems to me that Trustee Forbes's attempts to get Professor Peter Singer fired and his threat to withhold all money unless Professor Singer is fired are not worthy of a university trustee, who should be a strong defender of freedom of thought and speech, whether or not he agrees with the professor's ideas. From what I have read, Professor Singer is a serious scholar.

I applaud the university's defense of Singer. Forbes's education, apparently, did not teach him very well the values of free discussion and the history of great universities.

Robert Alonzo Winters '35

Hightstown, N.J.

Diversity on campus

As a white male alumnus, I can understand the anger expressed by Keefe Clemons '89 (Letters, October 20).

But his lumping all "old boy white conservatives" together is a reverse bigotry no less regrettable.

When I returned to Princeton after four years in the Army, I joined a group of "old boy white conservatives" that succeeded in getting the first black student admitted to Princeton. And I appointed the first two blacks to the Alumni Council. The point is, I am typical of the vast majority of alumni who do not share the views of Robert H. E. Hein '56.

Frank Schaffer '45

Former chairman of the Alumni Council

Greenwich, Conn.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Peter Singer's philosophy can be boiled down to this: It's OK to kill people but not animals. For this we are paying him how much?

On the issue of diversity, I am discouraged by the fact that not a single animal has been admitted to Princeton. Surely Professor Singer would agree that it is imperative that a tiger be admitted no later than the Class of '04. At least the tiger is an authentic Princeton animal. Maybe it could eat Professor Singer, and his salary could be given to the wrestling team. That would be the greatest good for the greatest number.

Richard Cummings '59

Bridgehampton, N.Y.

The Alumnae/i Weekly

In response to the letter from Vinny DeLuise '73 (October 6): The derogation of the purely masculine term "alumni" should strike even the most casual Latinist as unwarranted. True, "alumni" may refer to an exclusively male group. Latin grammar, however, dictates that a masculine plural form of a noun also be used when the body it describes consists of men and women, making the use of the dual endings in "alumnae/i" redundant these coed days. While Latin possesses a distinct nominal form referring to women (alumnae), it provides only an ambiguous masculo-feminine form (alumni) and in fact lacks any "purely masculine term."

Joshua L. G. Gunsher '98

Washington, D.C.


I was somewhat stunned to read the report on the Cornell football game by Wes Tooke '98 (Sports, October 6). Is it the new editorial policy to allow cub reporters wide-ranging license to call for someone's job? Rather than a report on the game, we are subjected to a factually deficient critique of the football program and a totally absurd evaluation of Princeton's football talent.

Exception could be taken to almost every paragraph of this game report. First, Coach Tosches is criticized for saying, "Successful teams run the football and stop the run." In USA Today (October 15), Coach Paul Johnson of then number-one ranked Division lAA (Princeton's division) Georgia Southern stated his motto: "To be good, you've got to be able to run and be able to stop the run."

Our neophyte Grantland Rice, or is it Brenda Starr, then calls for a Steve Spurrier (Florida) type offense to accommodate our "talented, fast, wide receivers."

1. We had a wide open offense under Frank Navarro and lost-a lot.

2. We have not had an all-league receiver or a legitimate deep receiving threat since Michael Lerch '93.

3. You need great quarterbacks to run such an offense, and we have not had an all-league quarterback since Jason Garrett '89.

Yet Coach Tosches and his staff have managed to win 77 games and three Ivy titles, while coaching at the only school in the league that will not accept transfers.

What the football program needs are more classes like this year's talented freshman class and the support of the administration, athletic department, and alumni-not the mental meanderings of uninformed rookie reporters.

Eric Jones '54

Rochester, N.Y.


In his letter Matt Bodie '91 (October 21, 1998) said he knew little about the Golden Age of Tiger football in the '30s.

In the fall of 1932, Fritz Crisler became the first nonalumnus Princeton football coach. At the same time an exceptionally talented group of football players in the Class of 1936 arrived on campus. That fall the freshman team went undefeated, untied, and unscored upon. It beat Yale freshmen for the first time in many years.

In 1933 Princeton was undefeated and untied; also unscored on for the first seven games. Along the way we beat Columbia 20-0. Columbia beat Stanford that year in the Rose Bowl.

In 1934 we lost just one game-a stunning 7-0 upset by Yale.

In 1935 we were undefeated and untied. After the first two games no one came remotely close to us. Vengeance against Yale came in the form of a 38-7 walloping.

In those days seniors gathered on the steps of Nassau Hall in the spring of senior year and engaged in Senior Singing. The Class of 1936 proudly sang, "In four years of college we lost but one game"

Well-known sports writer Bill Corum wrote, " The best college football team I ever saw walked out of the Yale Bowl in the twilight Saturday evening in the black and orange striped jerseys of Princeton University."

The Class of 1936 did not do this alone. There was the coaching of Fritz Crisler and his staff, and there were many outstanding players from other classes. Several members of these teams were in the All-America or All-East class.

Edgar A. Spencer '36

Falmouth, Maine

From the Archives

When I turned to From the Archives in the October 20 issue, I immediately thought "That's Frank Birney '42." That is he standing in the beautiful fur collared coat I remember well. His sitting friend looks familiar but I can't place him.

Frank was a close friend, a clubmate in Tiger Inn, and one of the most attractive, witty, and charming persons I've ever known. Frank died tragically just before Christmas 1941, our senior year.

Incidentally, he often dated an attractive Smith College undergraduate named Nancy Davis, better known these days as Mrs. Ronald Reagan.

Montague Blundon '42

McLean, Va.

Editor's note: We also heard from Dick Pate III '42, who phoned paw's offices to identify the fellow in the light coat as Frank O. Birney '42, who Pate thinks was modeling for a University Store advertisement. Pate reported that Birney liked the coat so much that he bought it and slept in it.

My Hiroshima

Forrest C. Eggleston '42 suggests (Letters, October 20) that the bombing of Hiroshima was necessary "to save many more lives." Surely there is someone at the Woodrow Wilson School at who either has or could review the now available record on why this bombing was not only massively inhumane but not necessary. Japan was ready to surrender, as was pointed out by Eisenhower and others who hardly classify as pacifists.

B. J. Duffy, Jr. '41

Hingham, Mass.

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