Letters: October 11, 1995
I am not one easily moved to protest, but I confess to being startled at the casual manner in which the July 5 paw repeated, without criticism, the blatant bigotry spewed by George Denniston '55 at the population forum during Reunions. His comments were all the more shocking because they appeared so matter-of-factly in an otherwise unremarkable article about the year-end festivities.
It is one thing to disagree with the teachings of a church; it is quite another to treat with utter disrespect the elders of that church, and in so doing ridicule a religion considered sacred to certain people. Had the beliefs Denniston mocked been those of, say, Native Americans, I suspect he would have been hounded from the hall and ritualistically condemned by the university's cardinals of political correctness. Since he was only sneering at Catholicism, the largest of all Christian faiths, he was met with "loud applause."
Contrast such sentiments with the standing ovation received by Ralph Nader '55 when he called upon Princeton to develop a "center for community service." My question for the respective lecture audiences: How would the contribution of any single community center established by Princeton compare with the tens of thousands of hospitals, schools, clinics, hospices, and halfway houses established by the Roman Catholic Church in this century? If a single community center warrants a standing ovation, where is the applause for the countless such centers founded and supported by the Church? Only hypocrisy can account for the different reactions.
The Church is more than its teachings on contraception and abortion. Even from a nonspiritual perspective, it has done more to ease the misery of the human race over the last 2,000 years than any other institution has or could. To this day, in many places on this planet, there are no hospitals or functioning schools other than those of the Church. If the retort to this, in effect, is that the Church has also sinned from time to time, my question would be: What institution, Princeton included, has not?
Whether directed at Jews, Puritans, Catholics, or Muslims, ridicule of a religion is hate speech and cannot be justified. The audience should have booed loudly, and paw should have as well.
Nicholas Simeonidis '83
New York, N.Y.
Regarding your May 10 article "Season of Discontent," about the disruptive spring of 1970: Nobody could have been more opposed to the Vietnam War than I was. Yet my very opposition convinced me, even then, that the antiwar tactics on college campuses and elsewhere could only serve to prolong and intensify that conflict.
Can anyone doubt that, in August 1968 at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, the behavior of the antiwar activists disgusted Americans in a way that later assured Richard Nixon's narrow victory over Hubert Humphrey? Humphrey didn't approve of Lyndon Johnson's belligerent policy, although he could not openly oppose it while serving as his vice-president. Had Humphrey been elected, it is almost certain that he would have quickly sought a peace without a South Vietnamese victory. The Chicago rioters didn't want peace, but revolution. They brought about Nixon's victory, which they probably knew would result from their actions.
The demonstrations in the spring of 1970, triggered by Nixon's decision to invade Cambodia, were equally counterproductive. I was working in India at the time, but when I returned home a few months later I could sense that the shock over the Kent State killings had passed, while the reaction to the demonstrators' behavior had strengthened Nixon's hand. This must have contributed greatly to Nixon's sweeping victory in the 1972 elections.
George Immerwahr '30
The university's proposal to raze Palmer Stadium (Notebook, May 10) deserves further comment. The undersigned represent alumni who are former athletes and nonathletes. We believe the demolition of Palmer Stadium, built in 1914, would eliminate an important landmark in Princeton's history and an integral aspect of its present culture.
The demolition of Palmer Stadium in favor of a smaller, multi-use facility will negatively impact football recruiting. Princeton football players, including some of the undersigned, remember their visits to Palmer Stadium as a factor that sealed their decisions to attend Princeton.
Paw reports that efforts to patch deteriorating concrete in Palmer Stadium have, over the years, produced only temporary results, and that a committee was formed "to look at the options available and come up with some 'objectives' for a new stadium." Richard R. Spies *72, the vice-president for finance and administration, said that "we continue to look at whether the outer fašade can be saved in whole or in part." If the outer fašade can be saved in whole, then why not the entire stadium? Perhaps, at a minimum, Palmer Stadium could be renovated by saving the fašade and replicating the interior portion of its original design.
A fund-raising campaign for this purpose is feasible. In the mid-1980s, the Friends of Princeton Hockey raised enough money to complete a multimillion-dollar renovation of Baker Rink, then the dinosaur of eastern hockey. According to your article, the proposed multipurpose stadium will cost between $25 and $30 million. Perhaps alumni could conduct a campaign that could raise any additional amount needed to finance a complete restoration of Palmer Stadium.
The university will spend $50 million to construct a campus center, and Palmer Stadium merits at least as great an expenditure. Whig and Clio halls, built in 1893, are now undergoing substantial restoration. The restoration includes a highly technical process for supporting the weight of the cornice while each column's plinth is replaced. We encourage the university to use the same innovation and creativity in restoring Palmer Stadium.
A university effort to restore Palmer Stadium's original design would be consistent with its commitment to maintaining old and arguably outdated structures that serve academic and cultural purposes. None of us recalls a time when there wasn't a major renovation taking place on campus. Why did the university choose to renovate, rather than to demolish, Alexander Hall, an architectural folly at the time of its construction? Wouldn't the university be better served by a safer and more utilitarian administrative building than Nassau Hall? Princeton has maintained these decaying structures because they preserve its unique character and history.
Palmer Stadium is at least as important a landmark as most of these buildings. We challenge the administration to name a single campus structure that, in the last 81 years, has brought together diverse groups more often and effectively than Palmer Stadium. Indeed, in addition to the football greats who have played there, Palmer Stadium has attracted students, families, and friends as well as captains of industry, political leaders, heads of state, band members, and all others connected to the Orange and Black. For generations, Palmer Stadium has brought together women and men in support of Princeton and its football program. Not all of us were football players, but for those of us who gave our blood and guts for the gridiron glory of Old Nassau, the destruction of Palmer Stadium is unthinkable.
We also question the need for a multi-use stadium to accommodate football games, track and field meets, and an occasional men's or women's soccer or lacrosse game. Palmer Stadium currently accommodates football games and track-and-field meets. And the new Class of 1952 Stadium is already a multi-use facility shared by soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey.
We wonder whether the pending proposal to annihilate Palmer Stadium is founded not on any notion of irreparable structural decay, but rather on a "politically correct" mandate that opposes spending large sums on a facility dedicated to the honor and nobility of football, a uniquely all-male, American sport. To those inclined toward that way of thinking, we point out that numerous female athletes have competed in Palmer Stadium for more than two decades. Perhaps alumni have stayed quiet on the proposed razing because they don't believe the university would actually take such action. Those who watched in disbelief as Princeton jettisoned a successful wrestling program a few years ago know better.
We look forward to the day when we can show our children and grandchildren Palmer Stadium in all its restored majesty. Like those who came before us, those of us privileged to have competed in Palmer Stadium hope to be able to tell these future generations, "That's where I played." These are simple ideals and modest dreams, perhaps, but then so are the very ideals and dreams upon which this great nation was founded. Among these are family, freedom of expression, hard-fought yet fair competition, and a shared sense of an enduring, collective, and uniquely American history. Palmer Stadium embodies all of these ideals and more.
We are reminded of the legends of Palmer Stadium, including football players "Pink" Baker '22, Art Lane '34, Dick Kazmaier '52, Frank McPhee '53, Homer Smith '54, Royce Flippin '56, Cosmo Iacavazzi '65, Stas Maliszewski '66, Hank Bjorklund '72, Carl Barisich '73, Walt Snickenberger '75, Kevin Guthrie '84, Derek Graham '85, the brothers Garrett (John '88, Jason '89, and Judd '90), and, most recently, Keith Elias '94; also, the many distinguished athletes from other sports, and band members. For all of them and countless others, Palmer Stadium must be saved. Otherwise, an iron wrecking ball will wipe away our cherished stadium, and the echoes will reverberate throughout the Princeton campus and beyond.
Eric Dreiband '86
Editor's note: This letter was cosigned by William Ellsworth '86, David Farina '87, Jay Fitzgibbons '86, Frederick B. Hnat '86, Stephen F. Kern '86, Christopher J. Loh '86, Kristine Mighion '86, Anthony "Chip" Nuzzo '87, John Smyth '86, and Mark L. von Kreuter '85.
I suspect that the glaring error in the profile of my colleague, The Honorable Sonia Sotomayor '76, in the May 10 paw may be due to the judge's decision not to give an interview to her alumni publication. In any event, while she may be the youngest jurist in the Southern District of New York, she is not the first federal judge of Puerto Rican descent. Admittedly, the reference is ambiguous, and the writer may have meant to confine that designation solely to the Southern District. As Judge Sotomayor would be the first to acknowledge, my former colleague, The Honorable JosÚ A. Cabranes, now a judge on the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City, was the first judge of Puerto Rican descent appointed in the continental United States.
It is with rueful fascination that I note the passage of time, whereby a near classmate of my daughter (Princeton '77) is now one of my colleagues on the federal bench.
Warren W. Eginton '45
Senior U.S. District Judge
I was entertained by Allan C. Bryant '53's letter in the July 5 paw. I was not among those who took Professor Robert Hollander '55's course on Dante, but it made a good staple for conversation with my neighbor Al Rivero '75. For sheer intellectual gymnastics, the subject is hard to beat, and there are few to which the university's teaching resources could be better devoted.
Mr. Bryant criticizes the university's devotion to the study of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and I sympathize with his view that Pericles and Archimedes should be included in the classical heritage. But more of Plato's works survive, and the work of Aristotle, challenging as it is, makes for more accessible reading than that of Archimedes. The connection of Dante with the Inquisition is not immediately evident, but that of Socrates with the Athenian "enforcers" is painted in all the colors of the Apology, the Crito, and the Phaedo. Although it may be mixing a few traditions, it's fitting to pay a cock to the memory of Dante and to those who keep it alive within the university.
Thomas Drucker '75
San Mateo, Calif.
The national championship won by the women's rugby team is wonderful for the attention it brings to women's ability to thrive in traditionally male, full-contact sports. But your July 5 article on that great achievement is inaccurate in stating that rugby is the only sport on campus that allows women full, uninhibited physical contact. Judo, a club sport, also does. Women's judo was added to the Olympics as a demonstration sport in 1988 and became a medal sport in 1992.
Roy T. Englert, Jr. '78
As cocaptain of the women's rugby team I want to thank everyone at this year's Reunions for their wonderful support, especially the Class of 1973 for allowing us to march with it in the P-rade.
This year the team will continue to train hard through heat, rain, and mud. But repeating as national champion will be tougher because we are losing our coach, Alex Curtis *95, who has completed his thesis and is leaving Princeton. Unfortunately, the team lacks the funds to attract a full-time coach. Unless we find a volunteer, my cocaptain, Erin Kennedy '96, and I will have to coach the team as well as play.
Meanwhile, we are beginning the process of establishing an endowment to support a coach. Those interested in helping the women's rugby team should contact Pam Adams '96 at 609-258-7969.
Ashley Kline '96
As physicians, Drs. Richard M. Cade '71 and James G. Glasser '70 must encounter wonders of natural organisms all the time in their medical practices, so it's not surprising that they might feel sympathy for creationism (Letters, April 5). But despite what they imply, creationism is not a branch of science. Scientists understand that theorists and experimentalists, while occasionally at odds, ultimately are two sides of one coin. Armchair philosophy has narrow limits, and creationism falls within that category of thought.
Dr. Glasser sees "perfection" in all of nature's structures, including the feather. But which feather is more perfect than the others out of the myriad variety of feathers that exist? A feather is not "perfect" but rather, "useful." The human organism's "perfection" would have to include genetic predispositions to cancer and other fatal conditions. Unless creationists define exactly what "God" is and the mechanisms by which this entity operates upon the universe, their claims for scientific causality have no scientific content.
Daniel Krimm '78
FOR THE RECORD
Our June 7 article on Princeton and the Bomb neglected to note the undergraduate and Graduate School affiliations of Henry DeWolf Smyth '18 *21.
Aaron J. Segal '88 has pointed out that, in our July 5 coverage of Commencement, the caption for the photograph of honorary-degree recipients transposed the names of Lawrence Stone and Clifford J. Geertz.