November 7, 2007: 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
PAW’s recent cover story (Oct. 10) describes faculty research on many aspects of climate change. Surprisingly, however, there was no mention of research on the socioeconomic impact of efforts to address climate change. Proposed solutions (such as using less coal and more natural gas, ethanol, solar, nuclear, etc.) will boost U.S. consumers’ energy and food costs, restrain real wage growth, increase poverty, and exacerbate inequality. The recent spike in corn prices, caused in part by rising ethanol production, is an example of what we can expect. Low-income consumers are hit hardest by rising food and fuel costs. Are any faculty members examining this aspect of climate change?
THOMAS DOERFLINGER ’74
The Sept. 26 PAW described work by Professor Marta Tienda on the efficacy of the SAT that concludes, “The science is clear.” I agree, the science is clear: SAT scores predict first-year college grades about as well as the high school grade point average (HSGPA). But the SAT has something that HSGPA does not — it is under control, like the result of a controlled experiment.
No one would argue that SAT scores are perfect, but they can be (and are) systematically improved. But HSGPA is like the result of an observational study; it is hard to know exactly what it means. Biased teachers might contribute to a student’s grades, yet they cannot be detected and corrected. This is one argument for the continued use of the SAT.
In addition, the article referred to Bowdoin College, which made the SAT optional in 1969, presumably as an example of how one can successfully admit a freshman class without it. According to a study of Bowdoin’s class of 1999, of the approximately 380 freshmen who chose to attend Bowdoin, a little more than 100 chose not to submit their SAT scores. Not surprisingly, the students who chose to submit them scored about 120 points higher than those who chose not to. It is crucial to note that the first-year performance of students who submitted SAT scores was commensurately higher than that of those who did not. This performance was exactly in line with what would have been predicted by their SAT scores.
The Bowdoin result meshes nicely with another theme of Professor Tienda’s interview — college rankings, which use mean SAT score as a component. The mean SAT score for Bowdoin, computed only from those who chose to submit scores was 1323 (for the class of 1999), whereas it would have been 1288 if all students had been included. Colby College, which required the SAT (or ACT) at that time, had a mean score of 1286. Thus Bowdoin, by not requiring the SAT, was able to game the rankings and boost itself over its cross-town rival, even though their two classes were essentially the same on the SAT.
HOWARD WAINER *68 p’07
PAW’s readers should not be misled by the Sept. 26 letter from Henry R. Whitehouse II ’54. Mr. Whitehouse is entitled to oppose Princeton’s thoughtful policy of diversifying its student body, but he should not cite the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Seattle/ Louisville decision for support. That 5–4 decision does not stand for the proposition that Princeton or any other school should not consider race in attempting to achieve diversity. The swing opinion of Justice Kennedy expressly takes issue with the opinion of Chief Justice Roberts, quoted by Mr. Whitehouse. The Roberts opinion is not controlling. Rather, a majority of the court agree with the principles articulated by Justice Kennedy: “... it is permissible to consider the racial make-up of schools and to adopt general policies to encourage a diverse student body, one aspect of which is its racial composition. ... ,” and “This nation has a moral and ethical obligation to fulfill its historic commitment to creating an integrated society that ensures equal opportunity for all.”
I welcome Princeton’s efforts to achieve our historic commitment.
ARNOLD K. MYTELKA ’58
In the Sept. 26 issue of PAW, the 2006–07 Annual Giving campaign record-setting $49 million total is recognized and trumpet salutes given to six classes setting major reunion donation records. The Class of 1982 raised an all-time high for any class with $7.8 million; 1952 received the next-highest salute with its 55th reunion record total of $2.25 million, etc. While the Class of 1957 did not establish a new 50th reunion record, its $5,005,757 — more than 10 percent of the campaign total — was an all-time 1957 class high mark, second-highest for the 2006–07 campaign, second-highest all-time for a 50th reunion class, seventh-highest all-time for any class, and more than $1 million over our class’s preliminary 50th reunion goal. Given all those distinctions, it would have been appropriate to acknowledge 1957’s contribution and its 1957 class participation record of 80.3 percent. This is to correct that oversight.
MURRAY PEYTON ’57
It was an absolutely thrilling and spiritual day Oct. 6 when the greatness of Hampton University graced Old Nassau with a “spice” of Afro-Americana. The game was all I expected — hard-hitting, very physical, and spectacular. Hampton’s band, drill team, and dancers were nothing short of Promethean. My friend and seatmate, Gracie M. Williams ’78, who is a native of Jamaica, was mesmerized by their sound quality, rhythm, and step routines. She hung on every note and choreographic routine.
The first meeting of these two premier institutions of higher learning on the gridiron, we hope, may spark not only a rivalry but a dialogue. I am a Virginia native, and the reputations of Hampton, Howard, Meharry, Fisk, Bennett, Florida A&M, Grambling, North Carolina A&T, Virginia State, Union University, and Morgan State — to name a few of the “elite” group — are well known to me, as I have hordes of relatives, friends, and neighbors who are proud alumni of these schools.
Princeton lost the game after leading at halftime 27–14, but coach Roger Hughes’ Tigers will be a more formidable opponent in the rematch in the fall of 2011 in Hampton! My hat is off to the administration, our athletic director, Gary Walters ’67, and the Association of Black Princeton Alumni along with Ken Bruce ’83, Marguerite Vera ’79, and Brittani Kirkpatrick ’05, who orchestrated the wonderful lecture by professor Daphne Brooks, the tailgate party, and the reception in the Class of 1956 skybox (I thank you all for loaning us your space for a day).
I would like to thank Gary and Jerry Price for the featured story in the game program on the legendary first black athletic captains in my class our senior year (1975–76). I cannot wait until 2011 so we can return the favor to the Hampton Pirates!
THE REV. GEORGE A. BATES ’76
No one who saw the Hampton University marching band perform in Princeton Stadium this season will soon forget it. We were all fortunate to have such a stunning demonstration of what a band that takes itself and its listeners seriously at halftime and plays audibly throughout the game can do to excite a crowd and drive a football team.
ED CHAMBLISS ’71
The rain of outrageous charges T. James Binder ’77 brings down on Muhammad Ali (letters, Sept. 26), while implying that the selection committee did not do its homework in choosing him for an honorary degree, demands a response. Mr. Binder has no right to doubt the honesty of Ali’s refusal to serve in the killing fields of Vietnam, nor fail to recognize that Ali paid the grossest of penalties imposed by the U.S. government on conscientious objectors. Stripped of his championship in the prime of his career, surely he would retain the finest legal counsel so that the government could not make him more of a target by sending him to jail.
No one should fail to understand Ali’s joke as he roared, “I am the greatest!” He was laughing at himself; it was his signature, and he thought we all would laugh with him. Those who took him seriously missed the point completely, Mr. Binder among them.
No notice is given of the selection committee’s description of this man of high principle, overcoming his handicap, using his fame in the most honorable way. Would that we all serve so well! The rousing ovation given by seniors, parents, and guests at the 2007 Commencement when the Ali honor was announced and he was assisted to the podium before Nassau Hall shows clearly the love that most have for this man. The snide comment about an award for Michael Vick at next year’s Commencement is not worthy of comment.
ELTON R. PETERSEN ’48
The headline for a profile of Martin Eichelberger ’67 in the Oct. 10 issue incorrectly reported his name as Michael Eichelberger.