March 13, 2002: Letters
Letter Box Online
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thoroughly irritated by Hugh M. F. Lewis 41s misogynistic nonsense (Letters, January 30), I began composing a reply in my head while continuing to look through the rest of the magazine. And what do you know? There, on page 12, was reply enough: Two (Women) Win Rhodes Scholarships. Unless of course the feminist conspiracy uncovered by Mr. Lewis has spread to Oxford as well.
John Williamson 81
I would like to thank PAW for printing the letter by Hugh M. F. Lewis 41 in which he recommended that the trustees promptly convert Princeton to a single-sex female university and be done with it, in light of lady Tilghmans installation. I have felt subdued in the days since reading Lewiss letter, which I now have on the wall above my desk. Yet even though reading the letter made me sad, I am glad I saw it. First, counter to its intent, it has only provided me with more energy to be the best student, thinker, and Princetonian I can. Second, the letter damned itself with gratifying effectiveness.
Lillian Pierce 02
Editors note: Pierce was one of the two Rhodes Scholarship winners.
I will give the benefit of the doubt to Mr. Lewis 41 and assume he did not mean any sexism, but was merely pointing out the possibility that women might win posts not by merit, but solely because of their sex. Let me assure you, sir, if no one has done so already, that I have met President Tilghman in person, and she is a highly capable, not to mention lovely, person, fit to lead Princeton into the 21st century.
Furthermore, the climb of women into positions of power in the administration is perhaps a fitting reflection of life at the undergraduate level. I recently attended a workshop for those interested in leading Arts Alive, Princetons latest effort to give back to the New York community in the wake of September 11. At least 100 students only about five of whom were men made a showing at the event. And yet, on any given night when I walk into the taproom of my eating club, the young men present greatly outnumber the women.
Princeton is a wonderfully integrated coed institution, but it cannot be denied that portions of it are occupied primarily by the men, others by the ladies. If only in part, it seems you got your wish of an all-female Princeton already!
Liz Hallock 02
In response to Hugh M. F. Lewis 41s recent letter, I would like to respond, quite simply, Get over it. Should female students have scurried away from the Princeton campus, metaphorical tails between their legs, when the positions of president, provost, and PAW staff were filled by men? Mr. Lewiss letter unfortunately reminded me of a comment one of my male professors made to me during a lab session during my freshman year of engineering education at Princeton: Do you really think female students have any business in engineering? I also recall the altogether ridiculous response of some male members of the Princeton Club of New York in the late 1980s when I initiated a successful campaign to have removed from the entry the stone plaque that read, Where women cease from troubling and the wicked are laid to rest. I was tired of listening to older, male colleagues whom I was entertaining for business purposes snicker when we walked in the door. In that case, I was met with a comment about the purity of Ivory soap, the implication being that I was impure in the minds of certain male club members. That certain and, I hope, an increasingly small number of men should be this insecure continues to astound me, especially when the alternatives to such threatened, hence defensive, attitudes abound. Get over it, guys and try joining the human[e] race. Its got to be a lot more fun than the psychological space you currently occupy.
Jensine Andresen 86
I will say up front that I am not a major donor, but if I were I would be even more disturbed by the university making a $1-million donation for attack aftermath (Notebook, January 30). There have been many billions donated, and the government is planning an additional $1.5 million to each family! When is enough enough?
The story states the donation was in response to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees but obviously omits the word liberal before each group. How can I be sure they are liberals? Easy! It is the liberal who is always ready and eager to donate other peoples money. That makes them feel better about themselves.
If conservatives were asked about the university making such a donation, I suspect most would have said, No! Keep the money to run Princeton, and we will donate separately to the 9/11 funds.
I know all this makes me an old curmudgeon, but let me add that I would gladly donate my own money for the summer camp at Princeton for children who lost family on 9/11.
Donavin A. Baumgartner, Jr. 52
I was discouraged to see that two of the three articles devoted to A Beautiful Mind in January 30s PAW (Notebook, On the Campus, and From the Editor) largely focused on the irrelevant details of the film and book. The shortest of the three mentioned the importance of the film for bringing attention to schizophrenia, but none of them state what is perhaps the most salient feature of this Golden Globe-winning film and screenplay: It is the most accurate and moving portrayal of the internal world of someone with schizophrenia ever brought to the general publics attention.
About 60 million people across the world suffer from schizophrenia, yet most of the rest of the world has been completely unaware of what the illness is. There is a good chance that due to the quality of this film and book and the poignancy of Russell Crowes portrayal of John Nash, this situation is about to change considerably. Perhaps PAW, rather than following in the footsteps of Entertainment Tonight by focusing on the bright and shiny details of this media event, could lead the way in bringing the truth of the tragedy of schizophrenia more squarely under the spotlight.
Richard Keefe 80
Editors note: Keefes essay on schizophrenia will appear on PAW Online March 27.
I very much enjoyed reading Welcome to Princeton, about the universitys freshman seminar program (cover story, January 30). It prompted me to remember the seminar I took during the spring of my freshman year, on the Idea of the Book from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, with Professor Seth Lerer (now at Stanford). That spring was the most intellectually exciting time I had ever had, and the freshman seminar was the anchor that held it all together. What I recall most vividly about that course is that when we students took a collective look at the syllabus, recognized a gap, and asked Professor Lerer to organize an extra class meeting on the missing topic (Egyptian hieroglyphics, I think), he promptly did. Now that I teach at the college level myself, I am able to recognize how extraordinary that moment was I would gladly organize an extra session for any group of students who rose up and demanded more learning!
Amanda Seligman 91
I was disappointed with the uncritical nature of PAWs profile on Donald Rumsfeld 54 (cover story, November 21). I am even more disappointed when Rumsfeld explains the treatment of Al Qaeda prisoners at Guántanamo Bay by saying they are unlawful combatants and therefore not to be treated as prisoners of war. If Rumsfeld does not know that the Geneva Accords have no such category as unlawful combatants, I worry about the quality of his education Princeton grad or not. If he does know and still insists a creating a new category for his momentary convenience, I worry about the quality of his integrity. Either way, Im frightened as well as embarrassed at the illegal and arrogant actions of a highly placed U.S. official on the international stage.
Daniel Erdman 73
With respect to the memory of an enthusiastic, devoted math teacher memorialized in the Notebook section of the January 30 issue, Professor Donald Spencer, may I offer the playful limerick I composed as a math major approximately in 1960:
A Fine Hall prof named Spencer
One day tried to teach us the Tensor.
He said, We define
it in Chapter 9.
His logic could not have been denser.
Thank you for remembering him.
Alan Oestreich 61
In the January 30 issue of PAW (page 32), you published a From the Archives photograph of unidentified partyers. You ask, Who are these undergraduates, and what were they playing at?
I am the Mad Russian; the bearded satyr surrounded by women is William Hootkins 70. The photo was taken during Coed Week February 914, 1969 a week-long extravaganza organized by me that brought almost 1,000 coeds from various colleges to Princeton. Mere weeks afterward, Princeton announced that it would admit women commencing the following semester.
The theatricality evinced by the two students in this photo has not ceased in the years since. Hootkins is an actor of distinction, starring most recently in the A&E production of The Magnificent Ambersons and having also appeared in Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Batman, Hear My Song, Valentino (as Fatty Arbuckle), and countless other films. My most recent play, The Nature of the Universe, was presented on Broadway last spring with Blythe Danner, Brian Dennehy, and Patricia Randell among the cast; my play Sundance is currently running in Los Angeles.
Meir Z. Ribalow 70
Editors note: We also heard from Dan Berkowitz 70, William Bowman 74, Bob Coxe 69, John B. Fox 70, Bink Garrison 70, and Stephen F. Sipos 71.