May 15, 2002: Letters
Letter Box Online
PAW welcomes letters. We may edit them for length,
accuracy, clarity, and civility.
We face in this country a major crisis, both in strategic energy policy and in environmental policy. Post-September 11, the stakes of not adjusting our national energy policy to lower our exposure to unexpected events in the Middle East look painfully high.
Yet your article on William Clay Ford, Jr. 79 (cover story, March 27) completely ignores the fact that the U.S. automobile industry, including Ford Motor Company, lobbied persistently and virulently against the public and national interest in the area of conservation, often referring to misleading (and in some cases, outright false) information about safety and cost.
Mr. Ford is faced with a much bigger challenge than simply to come up with television commercials to show that he intends to make a safe SUV. He is standing at a crossroads where he can bring our children to a better future by pushing forward improved mileage standards that reduce the extent of our reliance on Middle East oil and by moving more rapidly on engine systems that offer lower or zero emissions, saving the livability of our cities and eliminating pollution-related illness.
The question for Mr. Ford as an environmentalist is this: We know he can talk the talk, but can he walk the walk? His strategies on Capitol Hill seem to speak otherwise.
Amy Myers Jaffe 80
Talk is cheap, and so apparently is Bill Fords environmentalism. The PAW story calls Ford a self-described idealist and avid environmentalist who is convinced that, in addition to returning Ford Motor to profitability, he also must lead a paradigm-changing campaign to transform Ford from a smokestack-belching old economy enterprise to an environmentally friendly and socially responsible global leader of the 21st century. How disappointing, then, to read in the March 28 New York Times that Mr. Ford recently backed an intense lobbying and advertising effort against a Senate proposal to raise fuel economy standards for the first time since the 1980s. The proposal was indeed defeated.
Many environmentalists want to believe Mr. Ford when he says that Ford Motor is now working toward environmental friendliness and social responsibility. But he needs to put his companys money where his mouth is.
Lewis G. Creary *69
According to an analyst in your story, Ford Motor needs to go back to what they do so well the SUVs and the pickup trucks. Arent SUVs the gas-gulping monsters that keep America dependent on foreign oil?
Edward Clay 47
Your article on Newark (cover story, April 10) deserves much praise, especially for identifying alumni who are doing such significant work in helping to rebuild this city. Older alumni have also made significant contributions, most particularly Stan Bergen 51, who almost single-handedly created the University of Medicine and Dentistry. Construction in Newark of its vast facilities created thousands of permanent jobs and helped overcome the riot-induced crisis and bad feeling.
I welcome the list of active Princetonians who can help in my own endeavors with the Association for Children of New Jersey and Youth Consultation Service on behalf of the poorest children in Newark. In addition, the Early Care and Education Coalition, on whose board I also serve, is setting the standards for preschool in the Abbott districts.
Another important contributor to child well-being is the Victoria Foundation, whose sole client is Newark. It is currently providing $1 million to have the Bank Street College of Education staff the entire kindergarten program in Newark. Trustees include Charles M. Chapin 58 and William Turnbull 30.
Ernest M. May 34 *35
Argelio Dumenigos treatment of Newark and Princetons involvement was right on target. The involvement of Princetonians especially impressed me since my own recollections stemming from the riots of 1967 remain vivid. I was undersecretary (later secretary) of HUD at the time, and the impact was strong as we struggled for an effective response. So the Newark recovery remains on my agenda.
Robert Wood 44
In the February 27 PAW (Letters), C. Webster Wheelock 60 *67 addresses what he identifies as a cultural gulf that has arisen between the old Princeton and the new. His letter gives a persuasive and illuminating defense of the Princeton of the 1950s. However, one of his assertions casts an unduly negative light on todays undergraduates.
Wheelock implies that Princeton students today do not work as hard as their predecessors. It is simply not true. Undergraduates at Princeton today are asked to work harder, achieving at higher levels and in more endeavors, than ever before.
How could todays Princeton students possibly do less course work while working harder? Wheelock actually gives two reasons in his letter. Todays Princetonians, he points out, dedicate themselves to higher caliber athletics (and, I would add, greater skill and devotion in other extracurriculars, such as music), and spend more time partying and socializing with the opposite sex. This is certainly true. In its dedication to recruiting and shaping multitalented and well-rounded individuals, Princeton implicitly asks its students to take extracurricular activities and social skills as seriously as academics. This is a trade-off that can be debated, but not avoided, and Princeton has decided that there is significant value in extracurricular and social experiences aside from academics. As for coeducation, no one today can argue that women do not deserve as much as men to partake in the great education Princeton has to offer. Along with its pitfalls, the diversion from academic pursuits that coeducation provides can be a worthwhile one for both men and women.
There is another key factor that undercuts the sharp distinction in academic effort Wheelock draws between Princeton students of the 1950s and today: the steady advance in academic knowledge over the years. Undergraduate courses are now significantly broader than they were in the 1950s, covering more topics in the same span of time. Courses spend less class time on each topic and require more outside reading and analysis by the students. Of course, given their extracurricular and social commitments, students do not have hours of extra time to devote, and so must find ever more efficient ways of assimilating information.
Most undergraduates at Princeton today are both more motivated and more talented than the classes that came before them. Asked to do more in the same amount of time, todays Princeton students bring greater focus, efficiency, and flexibility to bear. The task laid out for them is impossible: to achieve in academics, to succeed in extracurricular activities, and to grow personally in a social context. There is not enough time, even with the talent and dedication of todays Princetonians, for students to achieve what is possible for them in all three areas. Nevertheless, todays Princeton undergraduates gamely and cheerfully apply themselves to that impossible undertaking, and what they do achieve is quite remarkable.
Alexander D. Feldman 01
C. Webster Wheelock 60 *67 claims that a more demanding academic program and less opportunity to socialize between the sexes meant Princetonians entertained themselves more responsibly in his era. Those inclined to believe Mr. Wheelock should reread A Room Full of Hovings, John McPhee 53s profile of former Metropolitan Museum director Thomas Hoving 53 *60. In that book is a memorable description of a 40-hour pre-exam debauch in Holder Hall. Imbibing milk punch (a sort of alcoholic stone soup) by the canister load, Hoving and his roommates transformed most of their belongings (and their entire allotment of university furniture) into fuel for a festive fire. Heres the finale: They had, in fact, burned up almost everything in the room except the player piano. Someone went out and came back with an axe. The piano played on while it was being hacked to pieces, and all the pieces were given in tandem to the flames. Just the sort of wholesome male bonding Wheelocks alma mater needs more of now!
Robert H. White s80
A cancer creeps insidiously here
Within our midst and masquerades about
Destroying as it goes the very dear Attachment we cant bear to be without.
Beginning as a nidus in our left
Its tentacles in generations new
Have colonized destroying in its cleft
The very sustenance thats kept us true.
Its foreign genes implanted midst our own
Have strangled from our seed our progenys.
Unnatural selection they have shown,
So goes the glue thats shaped our destinies.
Yes, Princeton hear me well the bell does toll,
That none of us this tumor can control.
R. J. Innerfield 67
Well, Im finally going to do it. This letter put me over the edge: one more invitation to the Class of 2000 to support, among other things, . . . generous financial aid policies that allow talented students to graduate free of student loan debt. I dont believe (all) student debt is a bad thing. There, I said it.
Clearly I must be part of some aristocracy who dares to thumb his nose at the working-class poor, not even giving them a chance in the world; wanting these poor suffering students to wallow in debt for years to come. But Im not opposed to financial aid. Princeton has so much money and can do so much good, it should forgive debt . . . if you go volunteer in inner-city schools, help craft legislation, or join the Peace Corps, among other possibilities. When I was a student, I vividly remember Princetons best and brightest traipsing off to convince McKinseyBainMerrillLehman that they were indeed the best and the brightest. I object to subsidizing their education only to watch them make six figures in a few short years. If they need it, why shouldnt they have student loans and pay them back? More important, instead of forgiving all loans, shouldnt we be crafting a program to strengthen Princetons creed: In the nations service? Work for a nonprofit, your loans are forgiven. Work for (and get paid a lot by) Goldman Sachs, pay back your loans.
So bring it on. Send me all your vitriolic criticism, your hate mail. My phone is set to transfer you automatically to my Class Agent. Her operators are standing by, eagerly awaiting your donation to the Princeton Goldman Sachs Class of 2010.
Nelson Cheng 00
I was thrilled to see President Tilghman not just tolerating but promoting diverse experiences for graduate students (Presidents Page, March 27). Several of my advisers actively supported my decision to coauthor a book and serve New Jersey in my area of expertise as I worked toward a Ph.D. It is overwhelmingly clear that these activities were key in both securing my current faculty position and establishing a reputation in my field. This cannot be done as effectively with papers and presentations alone. Well rounded should apply to all Princeton alumni graduate and undergraduate alike.
David M. Hassenzahl *00
Thanks for the story on ACLU executive director Anthony Romero 87 (Class Notes, March 13). What your readers may not know is that Princeton has an even longer association with the ACLU. Since 1953 we have housed the ACLUs archives, which now are found at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library. This is one of the most important and most used collections in the library. In addition, we house the papers of ACLU leaders including Roger Baldwin, Osmond Fraenkel, and Arthur Garfield Hays. In more recent years we have also added the archives of Freedom House, Common Cause, and the Council on Foreign Relations. For a full list of holdings at Mudd see: http://www.princeton.edu/mudd/collections.html.
I enjoyed your account of the eclectic but much-loved Marquand Chapel and the fire that destroyed it in 1920 (From the Editor, March 13). However, your article seems to have conflated the Chapels donor, Henry G. Marquand (18191902) with his son, Allan Marquand (18531924), Class of 1874.
Henry made a fortune in railroads, then used his wealth to support his lifelong enthusiasm for art and architecture. When Allan entered Princeton, his father made his first contribution to the Princeton campus, cosponsoring the building of the Bonner-Marquand Gymnasium. After graduating in 1874, Allan went to the seminary. His choice may have encouraged Henry to fund the design and construction of the Marquand Chapel, completed in 1881. By then, Allan had left the ministry to devote himself to collecting art and teaching Princeton students about it. Appointed to the faculty as its first professor of art and archaeology in 1882, he established the Art Museum, the Marquand Library, and the Art Department in the course of the next 20 years. He also found time to raise a family; his daughter Eleanor w23 w17 was my mother.
G. Allan Forsyth 53
The From the Editor column in the March 27 issue wrote of the manifold events of June 1947. Among those events was 1942s Class Baby throwing out the first pitch of the baseball game against Yale. If you could find the line-up card or roster of Yales baseball team on that occasion, Im positive you would see that George H. W. Bush Yale 1947 was playing first base. On one occasion and in the briefest conversation, he told me he always liked to play at Princetons reunions because so many were standing along the foul line heckling.
Peter Platten 43
I was astounded to learn recently that Princeton has no online application process. I just completed all of my M.B.A. applications online. The process was fast, accurate, and kind of fun. The automated application let me know which sections of the application I had yet to complete. I received an automated e-mail letting me know when my application had been processed, and I was able to pay the application fee by credit card. I even had the option on one of providing my recommenders with a link to submit their letters of recommendation online. Why doesnt Princeton do this? Arent we supposed to be innovators? Why is Princeton so behind the times?
Jocelyn Fredman 96
In the From the Archives photo on page 21 of the March 27 issue, I am the juggler on the right. I do not remember with whom I was juggling, but I believe we were juggling as part of the spring community day activities, probably in 1993. The photo also appeared on the front page of the Trenton Times. Not pictured are the many other assorted members of the juggling and yo-yo clubs who livened up campus events from 1990 to 1994.
Michael Schneider 94