Letters - December 15, 1999


It's not Princeton

As a three-year resident of the Patton dorms, I was struck by how much the photographs in your article "Princeton in the Movies" (Cover story, November 3) reminded me of them. However, those images were not shot at Princeton (the topography is all wrong), but at the Emma Willard School, in Troy, New York. The picture in paw was shot in the school's main quadrangle. Most of Scent of a Woman was shot on the Emma Wil- lard campus.

Given the background and history of Emma Willard and her school, I find it ironic that it was used as a setting for a movie about an all-male school. Your use of the picture will cause me much grief with my sister, Trudy Hall, who is the head of the Emma Willard School. She has always told her four brothers, including a second one who graduated from Princeton, John '74, that she plans to be the first female president of Princeton.

Ron Hall '76

May I see your papers

I was shocked to read the terrible story of Noah Sachs *95, "Taken for a Ride in Moscow" (First Person, October 20). Allow me to tell you my personal story that happened 27 years ago while I was traveling in the United States. I was only luckier than Mr. Sachs for not having been taken to a "ride" to any station!

In 1971, as a young foreign service officer, I was nominated by the government of the Republic of China in Taiwan as a Parvin Fellowship Program (PFP) candidate to study at the Woodrow Wilson School for a period of nine months. However, I was accepted as a Princeton-in-Asia Fellow (PIAF) and joined seven Asian and African PFP fellows for the nine months. I left Taipei for Princeton to start my program in September 1971. In May of the following year, when our studies were approaching their end, I took a two-week tour by Greyhound Bus throughout various major cities of the country.

Starting from Princeton, I visited many cities, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, New Orleans, Miami, Philadelphia, and Washington. I still remember vividly that when my bus arrived at the New Orleans station, it was already 6 or 7 o'clock in the evening. I felt hungry and decided to drop into a nearby cafeteria. Suddenly I noticed two men in neat suits and hats quickly approaching me. Standing in front of me with stern faces, they asked for my identity papers without, however, showing their own badges or identifications. I showed them my R.O.C. diplomatic passport and told them calmly that I was a foreign student from Taiwan studying at Princeton University. They checked my passport and returned it to me without saying one word, just left with disappointed looks. I told myself, this is a free, democratic, and civilized great nation. I didn't care who these two men were, or from what government agencies, I remember feeling they should say something like "sorry" or "thanks" for bothering me in such a rude manner; I was a human being and a foreigner who had come to this country to study and learn.

What surprised me even more was that when I continued my trip, and while I was sitting at the Greyhound Bus station in Philadelphia waiting for a connecting bus for Washington, D.C., the same thing happened to me again: Two men, dressed as I had seen in the New Orleans cafeteria and standing together by a newsstand, suddenly took swift combat action, quickly separated, ran toward me, and encircled me from two directions. They stood in front of my face with serious looks and without a smile, asked for my identity papers, and again, did not show me their identification papers. They, too, left me with a look of disappointment and again without any word of "sorry" or "thanks."

Well, this is the end of my story. Alas! I am 61 years old now, and what happened to me 27 years ago in the United States is like something that happened to me yesterday, so clearly do I still have the feeling of annoyance, fear, anxiety, and humiliation. Thank heavens I am luckier than my young schoolmate of the Woodrow Wilson School, Noah Sachs. I was not arrested by those two groups of American men and driven in their cars to an unknown place for further questions!

Steven F. Wang *72

Ambassador, Director General

Santiago, Chile

Grade inflation

Two Hips and three Tigers to Dean Nancy Malkiel for her persistent effort to restore meaningful grading practices at Princeton (Notebook, November 17).

"Inflation" is the popular word, but differentiation is the issue, to provide a worthwhile gauge of a student's enlightenment and work product in a course of study. Grading should allow a message of exceptional achievement as well as flagrant neglect, and every level of approbation-or stimulus to improve-between the extremes. Numbers are only part of the appraisal, but they require a consequential span to punctuate the message effectively. The range must be greater than B+ to A (with or without its "+"), or it can't differentiate the quality of the effort.

This does imply a "curve" component, even among students of selectively high standards. That's all right-the very good should be challenged to do the very best, and to know the difference when they do, especially at Princeton. And meaningful grading should not be inhibited by concerns of employment or graduate school acceptance-Princeton's transcript is factored for grade inflation in the market today and would be better respected at face value. In fact, Princeton is one of very few institutions with the chance to lead the rest to meaningful grading standards-and to be understood in the process-without setting its graduates at risk.

Bob Rodgers '56

Princeton, N.J.

Project 55 inspires Dartmouth '59

Princeton Project 55 (Cover story, October 20) inspired the Class of 1959 at Dartmouth to create Dartmouth Partners in Community Service five years ago. Since then, DPCS has placed over 70 Dartmouth students in community service internships and has just had the Dartmouth Class of '90 join us. For the past two years, we have worked with Chet Safian '55 of PP55 to place Dartmouth graduates in PP55 graduate fellowships and are developing our own graduate fellowships for DPCS. The PP55 message has been heard and is spreading, thanks to Princeton's Class of '55!

Karl B. Holtzschue

New York, N.Y.

Water polo

While I was thrilled by the recent article on Tiger water polo and the team's well-deserved press coverage (Sports, November 3), I wanted to clear up a couple of items.

The first concerns your statement that the team "has only had varsity status for three years." While this is technically accurate, it's also a little misleading. In the late 1980s Princeton had a water polo team that was titled "club-varsity." That meant the school did not fund the team, but the team played a national schedule of varsity teams. In fact, the 1992 team (including players S. Roche '94, C. Elliot '94, J. Killinger '95, B. Kouri '93, C. Urciouli '93, K. Wilbur '96, T. Ritchie '94, and myself) completed the season with a record of 27-1, won the Ivy League title, the mid-Atlantic title, and the East Coast title. In doing so, we qualified for the eight-team NCAA championships in Long Beach, where we matched up with the likes of Stanford, Cal, and UCLA. In effect, Princeton had the best of both worlds: a water polo team that was as competitive on a major college level as any of the school's other sports, and yet it cost the school nothing.

My second issue with your article concerns your line that "Princeton had not beaten Navy in almost 15 years." Navy has had a powerful water polo program for years, but it definitely has not been 15 seasons between Princeton's wins over the Midshipmen. We beat them once in 1990 (when Princeton coach Luis Nicolao starred for Navy) and we beat them several times in 1992's championship season.

I hope Coach Nicolao continues the excellent work he has done recruiting, coaching, and training the Tigers. But the program's foundation for success was laid years ago.

Tito Bianchi '93

Menlo Park, Calif.

Diversity on campus

It continues to amaze me to hear lamentations over the admission of women to Princeton.

Princeton's one major weakness in my day was the artificiality of its world because of its exclusion of women. Admitting women has enriched the Princeton experience immeasurably. Princeton is a far better, more interesting, and more challenging place today than it was before the admission of women.

Eugene F. Corrigan '47

Sacramento, Calif.

Bring on the chapel tower

The latest issue of the Princeton University Library Chronicle (Spring 1999) has an interesting article on the history of Princton's chapels. Regarding the present chapel, one statement I question is the following: "There was no tower over the crossing, as Cram felt that Princeton already had enough towers."

Above the ceiling and below the roof, there are four huge brick arches at the crossing, designed to take the weight of a tower. The piers at the crossing in the Chapel also indicate a tower. I once started a drive to build the tower, as I have always thought that to complete the beauty of the Chapel a tower is needed. I got a drawing from Cram's successor firm of the tower I believe he designed for the Chapel. The last I knew, the drawing was in the office of the Dean of the Chapel.

My idea was shot down by an earlier campaign and the Chapel Advisory Committee. I think the tower would have gotten money the university would not have gotten any other way. I also did not mind that it might take 400 years to finish it with people buying stones when they visited the Chapel. I still think the Chapel needs a tower to complete its beauty outside to compare with the glorious beauty inside.

Robert Alonzo Winters '35

Hightstown, N.J.

Sing every voice

I have not attended a Princeton football game in many years-until the Yale game on November 13. I liked the stadium, not loved it but liked it. The aluminum seats do draw the warmth from one's backside, but I'll know better next time. A good experience overall, and particularly the gathering with my classmates before and after.

But I was disappointed in one thing. I did anticipate that, win or lose, I would share with my fellow alumni in the singing of "Old Nassau" after the game, and along with others waited for it. The Yale band was placed such that they could blast the Princeton stands with repeated choruses of "Bulldog," and the Princeton band was scattered in the end zone. My friend who has shared reunions with me but never a football game wondered why the "silly fool" in front of us was waving his arm. I explained that he, and we, were trying to make the traditional chorus of "Old Nassau," but given our inability to hear the band we couldn't get "in sync."

The singing of "Old Nassau" is not a football tradition, it is not to encourage the team. It is our paean to our college and our joint memories. It is sung at full throat and at full voice whatever the result on the field.

If the college wants to perpetuate the spirit that brings us back, then it should ensure that the university band go to the center of the field, whatever the result of the game, and strike up "Old Nassau." The visiting team's band should be asked to delay any celebration of victory (if it's defeat, then no problem). Then we'd have the opportunity to sing our song-our song to our "bright college days,"our song to our fallen comrades, our song to each other and the college.

Jonathan W. Murphy '57

Englishtown, N.J.

James Smith '38 *42

The In Memoriam item on Professor Jim Smith '38 *42 (Notebook, November 3) can't help but evoke memories of his remarkable gift for teaching. He was brilliant, audacious, charismatic, and utterly committed to expanding our minds. I still remember, verbatim, a single-question midterm exam he threw at us in 1955:

"Defend the ethics of John Stuart Mill. If you do so, show a textual knowledge of Immanuel Kant,"or Defend the ethics of Immanuel Kant. If you do so, show a textual knowledge of John Stuart Mill,"or Show why this question is specious."

My incoherent scribbles in the blue book were rewarded with a grade of 3+ and a string of criticism that ended with six words that I will always cherish: "but you do have a mind."

Stephen Goldfinger '56

West Newton, Mass.

John Vigorita '65

John Vigorita '65, whose death you report in the issue of September 8, 1999, was a first-class student and a lovely person. It is more than 35 years since he, and Paul Wood- ruff '65, and I studied Classical Greek literature together, but I recall the elegance of his translations and the wit of his observations as if it were yesterday. I especially recall his role as Servant to Hippolytus (Paul Woodruff) in our joint production with Bryn Mawr of Euripedes' tragedy.

I am sure his circles of family and friends and students, as well as the world of classical scholarship, are much diminished by his death. I am also sure that he lives as vigorously in their memory as he does in mine.

William H. Janeway '65

New York, N.Y.

New head of Alumni Council

Kathy Taylor '74 is an inspired choice to lead the Alumni Council into the next century -an authentic member of the new Princeton. A working mother, she has many and varied talents, as well as deep roots in the old Princeton; she is the daughter and granddaughter of classes '39 and '10. It's one of those ideas so great that I wish I'd had it first.

Ted D. Taubeneck '48

Mt. Laurel, N.J.

More than civil

As a fortunate attendee of the oversubscribed Alumni College on the Civil War held in October in Fredericksburg, I thought congratulations should be extended on its success. Professor James McPherson gave three outstanding lectures, had two other experts deliver two more each, and had top National Park Service guides show us the four major battlefield sites. The atmosphere was relaxed and the accommodations fine. A sincere thank-you to the instructors, Alumni Council, and staff.

Dean Boorman '49

Montclair, N.J.

For the record

In the November 3 issue, we incorrectly identified the singer in the On the Campus column; she is Etta James. The story on Princeton in the movies should have located Thomas Edison's studio in West Orange, New Jersey, not in East Orange; the photograph we used on page 24 was of Edison's laboratory, not his studio.

This is our last issue until January 26. To all our readers, best wishes for the holidays.

Paw welcomes letters. We may edit them for length, accuracy, clarity, and civility. Our address: Princeton Alumni Weekly, 194 Nassau St., Suite 38, Princeton, NJ 08542 (paw@princeton.edu).

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