June 4, 2003: Letters
Letter Box Online
PAW welcomes letters. We may edit them for length,
accuracy, clarity, and civility.
Janet Lavin Rapelye, the new dean of admission, has impeccable academic credentials and an obvious commitment to college admissions. But it is a quantum leap from a lengthy tenure at Bowdoin and Wellesley to a large coed university with a rich tradition of academic excellence and competitive athletics, fueled by strong alumni support. Added to this heritage is an increasing and healthy diversity seeded by recent changes in financial aid policies.
I hope that Dean Rapelye will recognize and not forsake the strengths that have made Princeton a great university. I urge the new dean to study the successes of Dean Hargadon and build on them. He leaves a giant footprint on the Princeton landscape.
Thomas W. Newsome 63
I object to the appointment of yet another non-Princetonian to head the admission office. The fact that Ms. Rapelye may be a national leader is irrelevant. She may bring outstanding personal qualities as well as distinguished professional achievement to this position, but she has no ties to Princetons tradition, her faculty, or her alumni.
Ron Innerfield 67
I very much enjoyed the April 9 issue, with its focus on African-American studies and Talking About Race in On the Campus.
The Princeton of my day was a wonderful place, but still struggling with race relations, as we called it in those days. I loved Princeton then, and I do now. But when I see articles like those, I want to say this to todays students of all colors: It aint perfect yet. But we have come a very long way. Be proud that you attend a school that wants to get it right.
Jonathan S. Holman 66
PAWs cover story proclaims that the African-American studies program is No longer black and white. I wonder about the fact that the professors portrayed in the article all are black. If the program is truly no longer black and white, there would be a more racially varied faculty.
I note too that a black woman teaches a course entitled Introduction to Black Womens Studies, which enrolls only women about 60 percent of whom were African-American. Cant a man teach it? Is its subject matter so narrow that no man will enroll?
William B. Hunter 37
Mark Bernstein talks about the heavy, frequently self-funded cost of political campaigns today (feature, April 9).
Clean Money/Clean Elections breaks the campaign-spending spiral by giving limited and equal public funding to all qualified candidates who raise a set number of $5 contributions from voters in their districts. Since 1996, C.M.C.E. has been adopted in Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Vermont, and legislation has been introduced in other state legislatures and the U.S. Congress. When enacted, C.M.C.E. ends the constant chase for special-interest contributions, allowing candidates to spend time discussing issues instead.
Marc Andrew Landis 84
The writer is chairman of the C.M.C.E. campaign in New York City.
Mark Bernstein 83 makes a colossal error, or at the very least a colossal over-generalization, when he writes that political candidates run because they are committed to public service. People committed to public service do their serving by joining nonprofits and other do-good outfits. Political candidates run because they are driven to exercise coercive power over others.
Terry Wintroub 69
If, as Professor Uwe E. Reinhardt contends in his letter (April 23), it is the militarys dont ask, dont tell policy that offends the University, then it seems a roundabout and invidious way of airing its opposition to print in the Commencement program a disclaimer that diminishes the graduation achievement of newly commissioned officers in the R.O.T.C. program.
If the University feels so strongly about the issue, then it should either force the R.O.T.C. out, which would be a sad outcome, or take its opposition to dont ask, dont tell directly to the Department of Defense. The message in the Commencement program accomplishes nothing beyond embarrassing the University and everyone connected with it.
Bruce R. Carrick 58
Upon being commissioned as officers in the Marines, these men and women become stakeholders of that institutions values, including its regrettable position on gays and lesbians. In the coming years, I hope that more enlightened military officers as Professor Reinhardts son surely is who recognize the economic and organizational benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce will demand the changes Mr. Rumsfeld 54 has not.
J. Nick Geimer 98
My daughter got her rejection letter from Princeton yesterday. She is a third-generation legacy, with a 1420 on her S.A.T.s, a 4.11 G.P.A. in a rigorous private school, and an all-state setter and captain of a state championship volleyball team. Her sister is a junior at Princeton.
In the frenzy of debate concerning affirmative action at Michigan, I have heard it argued that legacy and affirmative action are equal and interchangeable. I challenge that idea. Legacy, unlike affirmative action, has nothing to do with the student, and everything to do with the alumnus. It should be a demonstration that loyalty is a two-way street. It is not sufficient for the alumnus to be blindly loyal to the University, while Princeton, in its mindless drive toward social engineering, pays lip-service to the values of tradition and loyalty, values that are the backbone of important institutions in this county.
I feel that if it can be ascertained that the student can do the work, there should be an automatic acceptance of legacies to Princeton. Then, the school can be in the business of righting old wrongs instead of creating new ones.
Richard R. Golden 60
Ivy League presidents have decided to control not only curriculum but also students leisure time. First they limit the exposure to sports. Music, theater, and other activities cannot be far behind. I wonder if the next generations of students will enjoy their Princeton experience as much as their predecessors did.
E. P. Wenz 47
President Tilghmans column Athletics in an Ivy Context (Presidents Page, February 26), which dealt with the seven-week moratorium on athletic teams, is impressively reasoned and lucidly presented, but it fails to justify a flawed paternalistic policy.
Reduced to its barest essential, the moratorium is designed to protect athletes from themselves (or from aggressive coaches or captains). The policy is condescending in the extreme by assuming that student-athletes will make poor choices about how to spend their time.
Being a dedicated athlete in an academically taxing institution is tough, and outlawing an athletes pursuit of sport for seven weeks seems a surefire way to discourage serious athletes from applying. If thats the presidents intent, then they should be forthright and announce that there will be fewer spots for athletes and participation in sports will count less in an applicants file.
The defection of Beth Bozman, the field hockey coach whose resignation was announced in the same issue, could be the beginning of a trend. What passionate professional wants to work at a place where her work is shut down for nearly two months? Stanford, Duke, and Northwestern, among others, must be pleased with the new Ivy League; student-athletes who used to come to us will now happily go to them, where they will feel welcome and not made to feel like second-class citizens.
Thomas C. Hudnut 69
President Tilghman evidently whined to a congressional science committee about visa approvals for foreign students after September 11 (Notebook, April 23). I was surprised to learn that of Princetons graduate students, about 40 percent are international. Is there a dearth of qualified American students interested in Princetons graduate programs?
Robert C. Lang Jr. 70
One of Dr. Ruth Westheimers activities not noted in your article (A Moment With, April 23) is to endorse the sale of a mechanical device that helps women achieve faster, more intense orgasms. To have Dr. Westheimer teaching a course at Princeton is just one manifestation of the conquest by the womens liberation movement of what used to be one of our finest universities.
Christopher Sherman *55
In your interview with Professor Michael Doran (Notebook, February 26), one statement stands out amidst several carefully qualified sentences that describe pan-Arab resentment toward the West: Palestine is the only Arab land successfully colonized in modern times, a fact that rankles deeply.
It looks like the professor is himself falling into the trap of Palestine-as-symbol, confusing belief with information. Im sure the Palestine crisis rankles many people, but I question whether colonization is a fact rather than an interpretation.
Dorans assertion perpetuates the illusory dichotomy that all Israelis are newcomers and all Palestinians are original inhabitants. The modern notion of a Palestinian nation is more recent than the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948, and in large part, the former is a response to the latter. Many Palestinians have ancestors who were displaced from (or refused entry by) neighboring countries around the middle of the last century. On the other hand, it is verifiable that some Jewish communities have existed in the area for hundreds of years.
If academics seriously want to evaluate nationhood claims impartially, they might send a team to survey Palestinians and Israelis, asking how many of their great-grandparents were born within the territory that each party now defends. We would then have some facts about whose roots are where.
Martin Schell 74