May 10, 2006: 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
It is natural that Princeton would attempt to limit its potential liability by taking a public stand against the use of the University network for illegal file-sharing (Notebook, March 22). Nevertheless, PAW should guard against misrepresenting the state of the law. It is patently wrong to say that “downloading songs and films for free on the Internet is theft.” Despite what movie previews might suggest, copyright infringement is not theft. (Read the theft provisions of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice.) There are many ways to interfere with the property rights of another. Some, like copyright infringement, trigger only civil remedies. Others, like theft, are serious criminal offenses. To stigmatize illegal file-sharers by calling them thieves is grossly unfair and inaccurate.
MILOVAN PRELEVIC ’98
I now understand why the honor system is failing at Princeton. The present generation of college students has a moral attitude that cheating and stealing are not morally reprehensible nor frowned upon.
I am referring to your article in the March 22 Notebook section. Obviously, neither Sean Gleason ’08 nor Delwin Olivan ’08 believes that stealing from corporations by way of the Internet is a fully acceptable practice. They also seem to believe the University agrees with them, since it did not object or stop them from raising money to pay the fine nor discipline them in any way. I quote Gleason: “I don’t see it hurting anybody except some people who need a reality check.”
I believe if the University is to restore the moral character of its graduates, it should at the least have expelled both students to let the student body know it would not tolerate dishonesty in any form.
JIM COCHRAN ’55
Three cheers for the Princeton Alumni Weekly and Fred Hargadon for the response to The Chosen, a marvelously researched but dreadfully analyzed history of the admission processes at Princeton, Harvard, and Yale (cover story, Feb. 15). When I saw this book on the table for “new nonfiction” at my bookstore, I bought it at once. Over the many years since my graduation, I have not found the University to be perfect, nor have I always been pleased with its decisions on various matters. But during all these years, the University has made me proud to be one of its “sons.” The author of The Chosen had a different view.
As Fred Hargadon repeatedly demonstrated in his article (feature, April 5), the book’s author drew many baseless inferences and reached many incorrect conclusions. Perhaps he intended to settle an old score for a perceived discriminatory wound. By the way he treated the admission processes of all three universities, he certainly suggested that. If his analyses were correct, my daughter (Chapin,
St. Paul’s, three sports, and a blond super-WASP) would have attended Princeton, her first choice by far, instead of Dartmouth.
I heartily recommend the book to all alumni/ae, and more strongly recommend Hargadon’s article. I also give thanks to any greater power that exists for allowing me to confront the admission process at no closer range than through my grandchildren (except that their parents are sometimes in the way).
RUSSEL H. BEATIE ’59
Since when did the Princeton Alumni Weekly aspire to be Utne magazine? Eight pages of the Feb. 15 issue are devoted to an excerpt from UC–Berkeley sociologist Jerome Karabel’s The Chosen — eight pages of a “weekly” print magazine, published only 15 times a year due to budgetary constraints, are lavished on one scholar’s facts-fit-the-theory argument without offering another point of view.
Under its masthead, PAW promises to “review without partiality the achievements and problems of the administration.” How can reprinting this excerpt, replete with unsubstantiated bias, exercise impartiality?
In her editor’s note, Marilyn Marks *86 states she invited Dean of Admission Janet Rapelye to comment, but Rapelye declined, “because of demands of the application season.” Next, Marks turned to former dean Fred Hargadon for a response, but then buried his rebuttal on the PAW Web site.
Where’s the discourse in this “independent magazine by alumni for alumni”? How difficult would it have been to prompt a precept-like discussion on “the meaning of merit” among former deans of admission Jim Wickenden ’61, Tony Cummings *80, and Hargadon? At the very least, Marks could have given equal bandwidth to the very perpetrators of the bias and gamesmanship Karabel alleges. They would have handily dismissed the notion that Princeton introduced a “no-loan” policy in 2001 in order to become “an institution on the make” and compete with rivals Harvard and Yale.
Better yet, Marks could have referred to former president Harold Shapiro *64’s new book, A Larger Sense of Purpose: Higher Education and Society (Princeton University Press, 2005). Shapiro, president from 1988 to 2001, highlights the moral imperative of universities to serve society, rather than to pillage the spoils of America’s secondary schools for a perfect elite, as The Chosen purports.
ELISE WRIGHT ’83
Editor’s note: A pre-publication excerpt from Shapiro’s book was printed in the Jan. 26, 2005, issue of PAW.
During the past decades, nearly all college-bound young people who have asked me for an opinion about schools to which they might apply have been interested in the strength of individual departments, not in evaluations of institutions as a whole. Your (fascinating) article, “Chosen for Princeton,” didn’t discuss this group of applicants.
The students with whom I have talked are probably atypical, but I think they represent a group that’s important to keep in mind when looking at small percentage differences among institutions. Most high school graduates are not yet sure in which department they want to major at college, it is true; but those who already are thinking of careers in medicine or engineering or international affairs (usually as a result of family influence) want to find colleges that will give them the best possible preparation.
Even though this group of “early deciders” may be small, it is sufficiently large to affect the distribution of applicants among the most prestigious universities by several percentage points. I think this fact works in favor of large institutions and against smaller ones that have many departments with only a few faculty members. A student contemplating a particular career, say, in astronomy, is more likely to favor a college with a dozen stargazers over one with only two or three.
You probably have already guessed my conclusion. Admission office people are wasting time looking at small percentage differences among institutions unless they also take into account the perceived quality of individual departments and schools. Obviously (to me), the gains of Princeton in recent years have been due to the rapid and impressive quality increases in several units of the University’s component parts. The fact that Princeton is so much smaller than Harvard or Yale makes these modest percentage increases even more significant.
W. PHILLIPS DAVISON ’39
For each of the past 35 years, I have looked forward to the Alumni Schools Committee interviews. I am always uplifted to find my alma mater continuing to attract the best and the brightest from my community. The downside is that, in most cases, I have had to share in the disappointment of some extraordinary youngsters.
This past week I attended a dinner in San Diego with our men’s track team. As an avid follower of Tiger sports since my undergraduate track days (captain ’60), I have been immensely impressed by the continued success of the track program built by Fred Samara and his staff. After spending an evening with the team, I am even more impressed by the youngsters on the team. They are doing amazing things besides track. The students, the coaching staff, and the team faculty adviser (a professor of microbiology) were living reinforcements of the values that allow me to speak with passion to applicants about the total Princeton experience a half-century after my introduction. It’s great that the part of Princeton that I most treasure is not memory lane. To say I am proud of how the team represented our school would be an understatement.
It is natural to question, and even be discouraged, when the best and brightest of your community are unable to share the Princeton experience. My take-away from meeting the track team is to recommend spending some time with the undergraduates when possible. You will be encouraged by those who earned their opportunity to represent Old Nassau. While I am still anxious about what news awaits those I interviewed from the admission office, I look forward, renewed, to meeting the applicants for the Class of 2011.
JOHN HUSEN CHANG ’60 *67 p’87 p’94
In reference to the March 22 column (President’s Page) by Shirley Tilghman, I would like to make the following comments on behalf of my family and my late parents, the donors of the Robertson Foundation Inc.
The objective of the Robertson Foundation — “to strengthen the Government of the United States and increase its ability and determination to defend and extend freedom throughout the world” — is stated explicitly in its certificate of incorporation and was formally agreed to by Princeton in 1961. The gift’s beneficiaries were to be the U.S. government and ultimately the American people. Our parents’ intent was to engage Princeton to recruit, prepare, and place graduate students in careers in government, particularly in “those areas of the Federal Government that are concerned with international relations and affairs” (see The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 7, 2006).
As my father wrote to former President Bowen *58: “Federal government service concerned with international relations and affairs. That was our original goal. It continues to be our goal, and it emphatically always will be our goal!” That has never changed.
Unfortunately, the school has not met the challenge. After 45 years and $300 million in foundation funds spent:
• The private sector is the largest employer of WWS M.P.A. graduates.
• WWS’ federal government placement record is inferior to similar public affairs programs.
• The percentage of M.P.A.s going into federal government service in international relations has decreased since the gift.
We view this as failure.
We’ve learned disturbing facts during discovery. Over the past 15-plus years, the University has gone on a “feeding frenzy” at the foundation’s expense. When the University budget was under pressure in 1992, the administration tapped the foundation’s endowment to secretly provide the University with “general funds relief.” Indeed, our financial expert has identified over $207 million in improper charges to the foundation.
Even worse, to hide its misconduct the University has repeatedly misrepresented and withheld facts from the foundation’s board. Although Ms. Tilghman professes transparency and governance reform at the foundation, matters have gotten worse under her leadership.
If my fellow alumni wish to discuss Ms. Tilghman’s comments or the lawsuit, contact me at banburyfund@ earthlink.net, or by fax at (239) 649-7664.
WILLIAM ROBERTSON ’72
Responding to Ileana La Fontaine ’99’s letter in the March 22 issue, I remain very pleased that when, as a confused sophomore, I had a meeting with architecture professor (and ex-chairman of the department) William F. Shellman, he told me I shouldn’t have come to Princeton to learn a trade, but to get a superior education.
ROBERT K. STURTZ ’78
It is with fondness and gratitude that I reflect upon my years at Princeton, not least owing to the opportunity they afforded me to study under Michel Sebastiani, who recently announced his retirement (Sports, Feb. 15). I was fortunate at Princeton to encounter a wonderful series of teachers and mentors. And while I could dwell upon the virtues of my professors, especially in the Department of Art and Archaeology, I wish here to draw attention to the important role played by Maître Sebastiani, fencing coach, in my life.
I have encountered few individuals so passionate about and accomplished in their fields of endeavor. Improving my fencing under Michel was a colorful and surprising adventure. While my classroom experiences certainly led directly to my subsequent career as an art historian, my experiences in Jadwin also contributed every step of the way. Michel’s refrain of “ne subis pas” still comes in useful when confronting unexpected complications or reverses. Also, being a teacher now myself, I realize how charmed an environment we enjoyed under Michel’s tutelage, for his approach to sport nourished both academic and athletic ambition.
I am sure that my voice will join many in saluting Michel Sebastiani and wishing him the very best for the future.
ADRIAN RANDOLPH ’87
It is devoutly to be wished that more African-Americans would play leadership roles in our nation’s investment community. But to say there are none (A Moment With Robert L. Johnson *72, March 22) is both untrue and un-Princeton.
In 1983, John W. Rogers Jr. ’80 started Ariel Capital Management LLC in Chicago. Today the company manages a $19 billion — yes, that is a “b” — portfolio. Morningstar gives the Ariel Fund he runs a four-star rating. He also writes a column for Forbes magazine. In addition, Mellody Hobson ’91 is now president of Ariel Capital. John has served as a Princeton trustee. Mellody is currently on the Princeton Board of Trustees. Both are African-American.
It is a tribute to their modesty that they are not better known.
LUTHER T. MUNFORD ’71
I read with interest the article on balancing work and family life (Notebook, March 22) in PAW. I am a reproductive endrocrinologist who, for the past 30 years, has helped infertile women become parents. This field has made tremendous progress since I began my work in 1976.
Nevertheless, the one area that still resists our medical advances is the effect of age on female reproduction. Unfortunately, young women are not counseled during their formative years about the adverse effect of age on reproduction. While many young women pursue higher education and successful careers, thereby postponing childbearing, the age-related decrease in fertility will leave many of them disappointed. During my career, I have found that many women are unfortunately either unaware of this problem or in denial about its existence.
DAVID L. ROSENFELD ’65, M.D.
I just read the piece on B. Franklin Bunn 1907 (Under the Ivy, posted online March 22), whom I knew slightly via Triangle way back when. Thanks so much for writing it. When I followed this up by reading about Freddie Fox ’39 (Alumni Connections, March 8), I almost wished to rejoin the fold. A lovely 10 minutes of memories.
RUSS STRATTON ’60
I spotted an error in the article entitled “The Unlikely Crusader” (feature, March 22) in the March 22 issue. Merrell Noden ’78 wrote: “Of course, there’s nothing like the words ‘$10 million lawsuit’ to give one second thoughts, especially if one happens to be a grad student on a grant.” The sentence should have read: “unless one happens to be a grad student on a grant.” No one has less to fear from a $10 million lawsuit than a pauper (or a starving grad student). The legal profession has a term to describe such potential defendants — “judgment-proof.”
My advice to Alex Halderman ’03 is to continue to freely disclose your findings without fear while you remain a student. They have nothing to attach but your futon. That will undoubtedly change once you leave the ivy tower.
JOHN PENTZ ’85
As a band member from 1948 to 1950, I can verify that the photo (From the Archives, March 8) shows an impromptu group of band members who gathered for the lacrosse game at Palmer Stadium, where lacrosse was rarely played. The full band in uniform normally played only at football games and for occasional indoor concerts at Alexander Hall. But at basketball and some lacrosse games, an informal cadre of volunteers would usually show up to make some noise.
In the row nearest the camera, starting with the second trumpet player, are Ken Mitchell ’49 (trumpet), Glenn Paige ’51 (baritone sax), Ed Tilden ’51 (snare drum), and John Pike ’51 (sousaphone). With Tilden the only one in Bermuda shorts (with garters, too), the rolled-up pants on the others may simply signify a celebration of the balmy spring weather.
RICHARD S. SNEDEKER ’51 *61