July 2, 2003: Letters
Letter Box Online
PAW welcomes letters. We may edit them for length,
accuracy, clarity, and civility.
I was humbled and chastened by an image in the April 23 issue (Notebook). In the photo of the rally held by the Princeton Committee Against Terrorism, one fellow carried a sign reading Hippies Go Home! Now thats a compelling argument!
Before, I thought it was my duty as a patriotic American to speak out when I have concerns about the decisions of political leaders, but now Ive certainly been put in my place.
Many thanks to the members of Princeton Students United for Peace for drawing attention to the thousands of casualties in our war on Iraq, a fact that too many who supported the invasion brushed off as collateral damage. War is not glamorous, easy, or simple, and no one should be quick to dismiss the loss of life and health that is the result of any war, justified or not.
Sasha Kopf 02
In the spring issue of the publication With One Accord, which does not print letters from readers, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School Anne-Marie Slaughter 80 is quoted telling a student-filled Dodds Auditorium, Whether you think its right or not, no one can want war.
Was this an exhortation or an aspiration? It seems too simple to dismiss the likelihood that people could want war, given a lengthy human history of war. Why so much war? Well, there are psychopathic leaders calmed by war (Attila the Hun to Osama bin Laden), and there are many economic interests advanced by war (e.g. military suppliers).
It would be interesting to learn more about this from Princeton professors.
Ted Endreny *99
Eva Bellin *93s interview on building a democracy in Iraq (Notebook, May 14) struck a rather ironic chord. In it, she says that free and fair elections, guaranteed civil liberties, and the separation of powers between the branches of government are what make a democracy a democracy. By this definition, America is becoming less of a democracy with every minute that George W. Bush sits at the helm. As we saw during the 2000 presidential election (when various people were disenfranchised and the Supreme Court ultimately chose the winner), we no longer have fair and free elections. And the Presidents Patriot Act, along with other measures that dismember the Bill of Rights in the name of homeland security, is slowly repealing our civil liberties. Bushs ongoing attempts to mix government and religion are weakening our separation of powers. Perhaps we should have remedied our own problems with democracy before running off to replicate this model in Iraq.
Jessica Walker 01
I was appalled by the letter from Christine Mann 80 regarding Annual Giving (May 14). I was not an economics major, but it makes sense to me that the University cannot continue to provide exemplary facilities, world-renowned professors, a top-notch education, and incredible financial aid without the continued support of its alums.
Princetons endowment grows as a result of wise investing and alumni gifts. I had to rely on that enormous endowment to permit me to attend. I doubt I will ever be able to give back the amount that was given to me.
I gladly will write a check to the University every year, expressing my utmost gratitude and helping future generations enjoy the Princeton I did, until someone has to pry the pen from my cold dead hand.
Daniel J. Sattizahn 99
While I agree with Christine Mann 80 that there are many worthy causes that deserve our philanthropic attention, there are reasons to contribute to Annual Giving that have nothing to do with the size of the Princeton endowment.
I received a large scholarship from Princeton that enabled me to attend. My Princeton education has provided personal and professional opportunities that might not have been otherwise available to me. I have felt a personal obligation to repay that scholarship many times over, both in nominal and inflation-adjusted terms. That is my way to thank Princeton for the difference that it has made in my life. I am sure many Princetonians feel the same way.
Peter K. Seldin 76
I recently learned of Professor David Wilkinsons death. I took introductory physics from him, and part of the class was devoted to projects. Professor Wilkinson encouraged me to pursue one Id been fascinated by since childhood: reenacting Ben Franklins experiment key, kite, and all in which Franklin discovered that lightning was simply an instance of static-electricity writ large.
Wilkinson walked another student and me through the project with infectious enthusiasm and curiosity. Together, the three of us built a kite many kites, actually and repeatedly crashed and broke them. When we were close to giving up, Wilkinson brought us to his office, pulled out a physicists catalog, and ordered a 10-foot balloon.
One awful night we went with our 10-foot balloon and two helium tanks onto the roof of Fine Hall. We blew up the balloon, attached metal wire and a tether, and spooled it out. It took half an hour, in pouring rain and hard winds, to get the balloon close to the thunderclouds, and another half hour before our ammeter registered a charge.
Then Wilkinson detached the ammeter, fished into his raincoat, pulled out an old-fashioned key, and gave it to me to hold close to the wire. Within seconds, I saw and felt sparks leap from the wire to the key. Each of us took turns reliving in visceral detail one of the great discoveries of the 18th century. It was magnificent.
Craig Sherman 89
If Princeton is so keen on diversity, why are all the senior administrators women? Sounds like all genders are equal, but some are more equal than others.
John Brittain 59
It is often embarrassing to read Letters. Consider the following from June 4:
First, we have a letter objecting to the appointment of Janet Rapelye as the new dean of admission. Why? The fact that she may be a national leader is irrelevant, says the letter writer, but she, yet another non-Princetonian to head the admission office, has no ties to Princetons tradition. (I think the University should be thanked for seeking outside help.)
Then, we have another asserting that legacies should be granted admission automatically if the student can do the work. (This would result in hundreds of more qualified students being rejected so that legacies could be admitted. Children of Princeton alums already have a privilege and should receive no special consideration.)
Then, there is a letter decrying the fact that 40 percent of Princeton graduate students are from foreign nations. (We should be proud that so many people around the world come to Princeton for an education and end up being leaders in their fields.)
Further, we have a letter writer complaining that Dr. Ruth Westheimer is teaching a course at Princeton, and says that this is further evidence of the conquest by the womens liberation movement of what used to be one of our finest universities. (I cant think of a response to this other than, Behold.)
You say PAW welcomes letters. I think this policy ought to be reevaluated. Or at least place Letters in the back so that people like me can get to your often thoughtful articles without feeling the urge to discard the publication in disgust. Does the content of these letters reflect the Princeton of intellect and service with which, I would like to think, most of us want to be associated?
Jeff Pidot 69
Mr. Lang in his June letter wonders if there is a dearth of qualified American graduate students.
The short answer? An emphatic Yes.
A summary of a longer answer goes: Those 40 percent of graduate students who are international are surely concentrated in the sciences. A perfect storm of market forces, budget cuts, etc., in the early 90s has led to a well-documented huge drop in the number and quality of American undergraduates pursuing Ph.D.s in basic fields like physics and math. The National Science Foundation understands this and is now, through its Vigre program in mathematics, for example, spending tens of millions of dollars per year basically to bribe Americans to go into basic science. Those of us in academia in these fields continue Americas long tradition of benefitting from the best and the brightest of scientists from overseas. The last 10 people hired into tenure-track positions at the University of Virginias math department have all been foreign: science refugees from China, Russia, Romania, Germany, Finland, Israel, and Italy. One, like me a decade earlier, taught at Princeton before coming here, two others taught at Yale, one came from the University of Chicago. Most got their graduate degrees in the U.S.
Nicholas J. Kuhn 76
In the May 14 Presidents Page, Jack Marburger, President Bushs science adviser, was identified with an incorrect class numeral. He is a member of the Class of 1962. Note to our readers
This is our final issue of the publishing year. Our next issue will be out September 10. Have a good summer!