December 14, 2005: Letters
Letter Box Online
PAW welcomes letters on its contents and topics related to Princeton University. We may edit them for length, accuracy, clarity, and civility; brevity is encouraged. Letters, articles, and photos submitted to PAW may be published or distributed in print, electronic, or other forms. Due to the volume of correspondence, we are unable to publish all letters received. Write to PAW, 194 Nassau St., Suite 38, Princeton, NJ 08542; send e-mail to email@example.com
I was disappointed that Marc Fisher ’80’s “The New News” (cover story, Oct. 19) is dominated by criticisms of blogs balanced by faint praise. He is obviously antagonistic to blogs because they have been successful in breaking the near-monopoly on current events information by the political left. No, the blogo-sphere did not only reveal the “flaws in CBS News’ reporting on President Bush’s National Guard service.” Without blogs, Dan Rather’s last-minute use of crudely forged documents would have likely swung the election to John Kerry. CBS’ own document experts expressed doubts about their authenticity prior to their release.
CBS’ response to the scandal was primarily ad hominem. One executive defined a blogger as “a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing what he thinks.” Marc Fisher brings an embellished put-down. Bloggers are pajama-wearers who “are not being read.” He seems oblivious to the Hayekian spontaneous generation occurring in the blogosphere in which quality attracts attention. In October, for example, my new blog (www.iris.org.il) was cited by dozens of sites for debunking a widely reported news story that Margaret Thatcher had renounced her long-standing advocacy of deposing Saddam Hussein.
I’m sure that thousands of fledgling Princeton alumni bloggers resent the disparagement. Regrettably for Mr. Fisher, we are no longer consigned to the Letters to the Editor.
DOUGLAS (BARAK) MOORE ’88
I was deeply disturbed by the report (Notebook, Nov. 2) that President Tilghman has accepted a nomination to the board of directors of Google. It seems to me that there are three problems here: 1) Being the president of a major university is a full-time job that should leave little or no time for moonlighting. Traditionally, any such outside activities have been restricted to service for the common good of the community. 2) Since the president is already being paid for her full-time work, accepting additional fees and stock options represents a clear-cut case of double-dipping. 3) There may be an inherent conflict of interest between a university, which thrives on the free exchange of ideas and information, and a company like Google that depends on the protection of ideas and processes that it regards as its “intellectual property.”
SIDNEY VAN DEN BERGH ’50
As a former resident of New Orleans and an African-American Princeton alumna, I was deeply disturbed by Margaret Johnson ’05’s article (Perspective, Oct. 19). The article revealed a lack of appreciation for socioeconomic and racial diversity.
I moved to New Orleans following graduation as a member of the charter corps of Teach for America. I was assigned to teach fifth grade in the lower ninth ward, one of the poorest sections of the city and an area profoundly impacted by Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans became my second home, and my husband is also from the city. Although we now live in Maryland, our ties to the city are strong. Like thousands of others, the hurricane profoundly affected our family. I love the city and admire its history and culture. Most importantly, I respect the rich spirit of its residents.
The experiences of the people of New Orleans deserve a meaningful voice. Unfortunately, Ms. Johnson’s article merely offered the privileged and insulting viewpoint of a member of the Metairie Country Club. Articles such as Ms. Johnson’s perpetuate the stereotype that Princeton is primarily a place for the affluent and that our students do not understand the complexities of living in a multicultural society.
For example, after describing the educational problems within the Orleans Parish school system, Ms. Johnson admits that “because I was born white with money, I was able to attend an excellent private school and get into the finest university in the country.” As a former Orleans Parish school teacher and a current college admissions professional, I found that statement very disheartening.
MARIA ADAMS DAVIDSON ’90
Having already beaten Harvard, the Yale game was for the s’mores (the bonfire antecedent rendering THE Game meaningless). Surely, Princeton’s 14–0 lead (indeed, damn close to 21–0) at half was all but chocolate to Yale’s marshmallow and lame-duck Harvard’s graham cracker — almost color-coordinated, too! Alas, what was to have easily melted the Big Three to only Princeton, became instead a meltdown exclusively Princeton’s! Yale’s own historic meltdown some 35 years ago, yielding 16 points in the final 44 seconds to Harvard, wasn’t nearly as bad as the 14-point yield to Yale in the final 74 seconds, because the former had no losers. Here, like the presidential election of 2000, the better was undermined by its own sort, when Harvard-Princeton-Yale meant Gore-Nader [’55]-Bush.
The “Yale = Bush” is easy enough, but for the analogy to work, imagine the anti-Bush momentum — i.e. “Gore = Harvard” — is ready to beat Yale/Bush, when all of a sudden, from out of nowhere, a “Princeton = Nader” screws everything up. Had the self-interest of the defender (Princeton/ Nader) not intervened, the greater good of the defense (anti-Yale/Bush or Harvard, say) would have prevailed, and the world would be a better place. All the defender had to do was void the fourth-down, Hail-Mary pass. By foolishly intercepting at the 1-yard line, his personal agenda marginalizes what had already been earned by the team: an open-field possession takeover with plenty of room for the well-deserved victory, precluding any chance for the score to somehow deceive the greater yardage (like a majority popular vote shortchanged by the Electoral College).
CHRIS MORRIS *78
We write to express our disappointment with the format and content of the Oct. 25 “town meeting” in which President Tilghman participated in Washington, D.C.
The invitation stated that the “town meeting” would be an oppor-tunity to join a “lively conversation about the University, including changes, challenges, and achievements.” Instead, the two-hour program featured an hour of hors d’oeuvres and wine and a second hour of mostly formal remarks by President Tilghman and Professor Alan Krueger. There were only 15 minutes dedicated to questions and answers. This was highly disappointing for those alumni who came to engage in a conversation about their concerns about Princeton.
If the University is going to send its representative(s) around the country to hold “town meetings,” we respectfully suggest that at least 75 percent of the time be devoted actually to a town meeting.
The University should also consider holding town meetings more regularly and having an annual meeting of alumni.
LA MONICA ANDREOFF ’04, Arlington, Va. EVAN BAEHR ’05, Washington,
Editor’s note: A version of this letter was sent as an open letter to President Tilghman, who responded that alumni have told her office that they appreciate hearing from faculty and that she holds a “town meeting” each year at Reunions.
It would be nice to see a picture of the Princeton campus on PAW covers once or twice a year.
STEPHEN VALENTINE III ’47 *49
I am pleased to identify these great men (From the Archives, Sept. 14), all Nassoons and not necessarily jocks, as, from left, Don Finnie ’47, Ed Knetzger ’46, Jim Buck ’46, and Al Burr ’49. (They were singing “Oh Mister Moon” for 1948’s Class Day ceremony, in case you were wondering!) Only Dad survives among these good friends, but the songs live on.
JIM BUCK ’81
Barbara Calanog Todd ’98’s name was misspelled on the Nov. 2 cover.
A memorial Sept. 14 for Landon Peters ’52 contained several errors. He prepared at Gov. Dummer Academy and served in the Air Force from 1951 to 1955, but not as a pilot. He retired from the Bank of New York as executive vice president and treasurer. Among his survivors is a sister, Lorna Garron. The Class of 1952 regrets the errors. A corrected text appears in the PAW Online Class Memorials.
The memorial for Earll Colden Waller ’42 in the May 12, 2004, issue omitted the name of one of his children, Suzanne. The Class of 1942 apologizes for the omission.