Letters - September 9, 1998


In your July 8 coverage of the Reunions alumni-faculty forum on the status of women at Princeton, you erroneously reported that I observed that "many professors were guilty of sexual harassment" when I was a graduate student. Those words are a gross overstatement of what I actually said, to wit, "The faculty [as opposed to my fellow students] were the source of puzzlement for me. Many of them did not know how to react appropriately to women in the classroom. Frankly, had sexual harassment been as openly discussed then as it is now, the professors who made suggestive comments to me or put their hands on my knee would have been in big trouble!" The many who did not react appropriately to women were merely awkward at times and could hardly be branded "guilty." My stronger statement referred to two (not many) professors -- one no longer at Princeton and the other now deceased.

The vast majority of faculty members were wonderful to me -- wise, kind, and supportive -- and I have counted several of them among my most valued friends. It was unfair to expand my comment about two ungentlemanly professors into a broad indictment of the scholars who were also gentlemen and who helped give me four of the most precious years of my life.

Regrettably, PAW's coverage missed my principal message about coeducation, which is that all Princetonians -- men and women alike -- should put our past differences and misconceptions behind us and move forward with good humor and mutual understanding. How ironic that PAW overlaid my words with the very rancor that I eschew.

Janice Stultz Roddenbery *77
Lawrenceville, N.J.

Your story about the Reunions forum on coeducation quotes Colleen Shanahan '98 saying that women are still changing Princeton "so that it belongs to us."

This seems a fitting climax to the trend that started 25 years ago with the graduation of the first fully coeducational Class of 1973. Assuming she was accurately quoted, I hope Miss Shanahan is willing to take on the financial responsibility of ownership of Princeton, which until now has been largely borne by men. In my humble opinion, it would have been more responsible for her to suggest that ownership might be shared among men and women. Perhaps your magazine should change its name to the Princeton Alumnae Weekly.

K.L. Campbell '46
Hudson, Ohio

New stadium

Can the June 10 cover photograph possibly convey what the new stadium looks like? I pray it does not.

Over the last few years, after decades of cold, Stalinesque, or simply boring designs for sports arenas, we have entered a new golden age, from Baltimore to Cleveland to Arlington (indeed, even to our planned AAA baseball park here in Memphis), with designs at once comforting and inspiring, even to those not otherwise prisoner to the magic of sports. Contrary to this trend, Princeton's new stadium appears from your photograph to be the most forbidding and uninspiring piece of public architecture in existence outside a formerly Communist country. And this from an institution with essentially unlimited funds, a captive architecture school, and a pool of talented alumni architects and designers.

Can Princeton no longer inspire grace? Can the memory and lore of football glories past no longer arouse the heroic spirit that even dowdy old Palmer Stadium had? The damn thing looks like a suburban Washington, D.C., office complex, without the nicer exterior details.

Lucian T. Pera '82
Memphis, Tenn.

I read with some dismay that the new football stadium will he known as Princeton Stadium, unless some wealthy donor comes up with a "naming gift" of at least $25 million -- after which, presumably, it will be named for him or her. I suggest there is already an appropriate name for the stadium, one that no Tiger football fan would deny: Kazmaier Stadium. Dick Kazmaier '52 is, and surely will always remain, Princeton's only Heisman Trophy winner. In this and many other ways he embodies all that is best and most glorious in Princeton's long football tradition.

If some individual wants to contribute $25 million to defray the cost of the stadium, Princeton can do what Columbia did when it named its new stadium the Lawrence Wien Stadium at Baker Field. Only in Princeton's case, we could run an old-fashioned single-wing reverse and call ours the Kazmaier Stadium at Donor X Field. This should not deter potential donors from stepping forth. Can you imagine any alumnus objecting to having his name forever linked with that of Dick Kazmaier?

C. Thomas Corwin '62
Chappaqua, N.Y.

I was disappointed in your coverage of the dedication of the magnificent William M. Weaver Track and Field Stadium (Sports, June 10). On the cover you featured a photograph of the new football stadium, but relegated the actual opening of its component track and field complex to a small picture showing a few runners. Above all, you did a great injustice to Bill Weaver '34 by failing to recognize his phenomenal generosity in underwriting the cost of the complex. I recognize that track cannot compete with football when it comes to alumni interest, but the dedication of Bill Weaver and other track alumni deserves fairer treatment.

Gabe Markisohn '56
Hernon, Va.

Spanish-American War

"Princeton and the Spanish-American War" (PAW, June 10) was fascinating to me, particularly since I grew up with stories of my great uncle Gordon Johnston 1896, whom the article mentions fighting in Cuba and the Philippines.

After graduating in 1896, Johnston returned home to North Carolina to try the insurance business. Finding that unstimulating, he volunteered for the Rough Riders and as a sergeant served as an aide to the unit's commanding officer, Teddy Roosevelt.

Clearly, he had found his profession. After receiving a commission he was sent to the Philippines, where he earned the Medal of Honor in the action described in the article. He wound up making a career of the Army and had a variety of interesting assignments, including chasing Pancho Villa in 1916 and serving on General Black Jack Pershing's staff in Europe during World War I. He died at age 61 while playing polo at Ft. Sam Houston, in San Antonio. At the time of his death he was a full colonel of cavalry and the most decorated man in the Army. Photographs show him with a chest full of medals for bravery and accomplishment, presented by the U.S. and a number of other countries.

He was a great inspiration to those of us born shortly after his death. We grew up with tales of his life and prowess told by his widow, my grandmother's sister, who lived on for another 40 years. Here is another reminder of Princeton in the nation's service.

Robert Garrett '59
New York, N.Y.

As a native-born Cuban and one whose not-too-remote ancestors took opposing sides in the War of 1898, I enjoyed your article on the Spanish-American War. I was especially interested in what it said about Everisto de Montalvo 1898, who enlisted in the U. S. Army to fight in the war. Many Montalvos were close friends of mine while I lived in Cuba, which I left in 1960 after Castro seized power there.

De Montalvo's story recalls that of my late brother, Albert J. Parreño '41, who became a U.S. citizen when, early in World War II, he left Harvard Law School to enlist in the Army. Once the Army discovered that (like de Montalvo) he was bilingual, it assigned him to West Point to teach Spanish. After the war he resumed his legal studies and went on to a career in law.

Desiderio X. Parreño '38
San José, Costa Rica

Head shaving

I must get my oar in on the head-shaving picture published as a From the Archives in May 7, 1997, and discussed by Bob Golembiewski '54 in his letter of May 20.

Contrary to what Golembiewski states, I believe the head shaver is not the late Hayes Walker '55 but Gene McCoy '55. I also believe that the shavee is Art Eschenlauer '56. I called Art about this, and he agreed. We both think the picture was published, probably in The Daily Princetonian in September 1952, when Art was a freshman. Art recalls being grabbed by a group of sophomores, passed through a window in Holder Hall (mainly a sophomore dorm at the time), and unceremoniously clipped down the center of his head. Holder would explain the electric clippers shown in the photo; there would have been no place to plug in clippers if the shaving had taken place at the Mather Sun Dial, as Golembiewski asserts.

I also believe that Golembiewski was not the shavee in the incident he describes, which took place, a year before, in September 1951. I know because I was the one who cut his hair, with scissors thrust into my hand by an unknown classmate. At the time, I had no idea who Golembiewski was.

I attended the pep rally the next day as described by Golembiewski, who I believe was introduced as "Goldie," a reference perhaps to his former locks. I recognized my tonsorial victim, was most impressed by his identity, and subsequently rooted for him at all football games. But I was glad he never recognized his barber.

Raymond F. Fitzsimmons '55
Orange, Calif.

Triangle composers

Re your March 25 From the Archives photo: The five young men pictured are members of the 1940-41 Triangle Show and probably are working on that year's musical, Many a Slip. At the keyboard is pianist/composer Carl E. "Bus" or "Buster" Davis, Jr. '41, and just behind him, with hand raised, is lyricist Mark Lawrence '42. The bottom figure with the cigarette and at the typewriter might be Bob Chapman '41, Triangle's president, but that is just a guess.

Richard B. Thomas '43
El Cerrito, Calif.

Editor's note: We heard from others about the identities. Class secretary Dick Uhl '39 and Joe King '41 report that the person immediately to the left of Lawrence is Bob Perry '41. King believes the fellow on the far left is Dick Stifel '41, but John Stutesman '42 thinks it's his classmate Gordon Bent. Stifel tells us that Davis "composed music for four successive Triangle shows, starting as a freshman in the fall of 1938." With Lawrence he wrote "Walk, Don't Run, When Your Heart's on Fire," among other numbers. Many years later, Davis was musical director of the Broadway show Hello, Dolly!

Watching the P-rade

Two observations about this year's P-rade from someone who's been watching them for 32 consecutive years:

One, although class sizes have increased with the advent of coeducation -- a great positive -- the number of bands and other entertainment has not, with the result that this most wonderful of all parades now threatens to drag when it should dance and celebrate. Perhaps there should be a requirement to have one more marching band or combo per major reunion class. At this year's P-rade the Class of 1997 did a great job with a Latin percussion group of their own members, which provided much-needed zip on a brutally hot day.

Two, attempts to broaden participation and keep costs down have led to a degradation of class uniforms among the younger classes. When every softball and Frisbee team in America has its own T-shirt, shouldn't we raise the standard a little when it comes time to march and rejoice together with one accord? All great things have a delicate balance. The P-rade is no different.

J. Michael Parish '65
New York, N.Y.


I am perplexed by Dean of Admission Fred Hargadon's statement on minority admissions (Notebook, May 20). Mr. Hargadon says that "33 percent of students admitted to the university indicate a minority background." What does this mean? Is an African-American who comes from a privileged background and attends quality schools classified as a minority? What about a person with a Hispanic surname whose father is an investment banker, or a someone of Asian background whose parents are physicists? Is a Jewish applicant classified as a minority because Jews are a minority and also suffered great discrimination in the past at Princeton?

Isn't it time that Princeton live by its ideals and admit students based upon ability, potential, and character, and disregard their race or ethnic background? If the university is going to make distinctions, a more valid approach would be to be more flexible regarding students who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, whatever their race, religion, or gender.

Michael Scharf '64
New York, N.Y.

Grade inflation

I have several thoughts regarding the ongoing discussion on grade inflation (Notebook, March 25; Letters, May 20).

When I applied to medical schools during the fall of my senior year, some of the schools recognized the fact that my lower grade-point average was acceptable because I was from an outstanding institution. However, I was summarily rejected from many medical schools because I did not clear their minimum GPA hurdle of 3.8 or 3.9.

If Princeton professors and administrators were to lead the nation with an across-the-board cut in grading, their action might be the impetus for a change in the whole system of higher education. On the down side, it might hurt Princeton students applying to professional and graduate programs and being directly compared to individuals with significantly higher grades from less competitive colleges. Few would argue that most recent Princeton graduates would have had higher GPAs had they instead attended a state university (they would also have lower debt loads, but that's another matter).

When matriculating at Vanderbilt's medical school, I had a GPA markedly lower than the incoming class's average. But my MCAT scores were higher than the average, and ultimately I got a job in one of the most competitive surgical subspecialties in the nation.

Richard Todd '94, M.D.
Chicago, Ill.

Y2K problem

The April 8 Notebook reports that Leslie Greenbaum is heading Princeton's Year 2000 project to review the university's three million lines of computer code affected by the Y2K problem.

The article also states that, nationwide, it will cost $300 billion to $600 billion to fix this "glitch." Perhaps Greenbaum can explain why computer programmers didn't anticipate that this century would eventually come to a close. Was this a subtle way of creating job security for their industry?

The article says that the university's programmers are fixing the problem by "windowing," that is, instructing the computer to add "19" before any number greater than a specific number (for example 25) and to add "20" before numbers less than that. Won't this merely create another crisis as we approach the year 2025? Will the Class of 1924 become the Class of 2024? Will Woodrow Wilson 1879 become a member of the Class of 1979?

K.L. Campbell '46
Hudson, Ohio

Editor's note: We forwarded Mr. Campbell's query on to Leslie Greenbaum, who gave this reply:

"The Y2K problem was caused by the shortsightedness of the computer application designers who chose to take shortcuts, using whatever languages were available to represent dates with two-digit years rather than four-digit years (e.g., 98 rather than 1998) and who ignored accurate rules for leap years. These designers made choices that were appropriate at that time. By using a two-position field, they saved valuable data-storage space (in the 1960s and 1970s storage space was critical) and increased processing power; the truncated year allowed for faster processing of data.

"Princeton has committed itself to the Partnership 2000 (P2K) initiative, a strategic plan for replacing information systems on the mainframe with distributed computing systems. The windowing methodology is the preferable technique for Princeton's information systems because the default window date can easily be modified. This technique is easier to implement than the expansion-field method, and the current P2K initiative justifies taking the least complex approach."

Return of "winged" helmet

Upon returning to Princeton as a senior in September 1938, I was surprised to find that the football team was being issued solid-orange helmets in place of the winged-helmet design I had come to admire as perhaps the single most distinctive feature of our uniform. My memory is that one or more of the coaches believed the solid orange presented a better target for the passer. I grudgingly accepted this explanation but silently mourned the loss of this special insignia, a change that seemed as unnecessary as removing the orange stripes from our black jerseys. Now, 60 years later, the winged helmet is back -- especially good news for those few of us left who played in the 1930s.

Thomas R. Mountain '39
Worcester, Mass.

Editor's note: Mountain captained the 1938 team. For more on the helmet of yore, see Sports and Class Notes Features.

Assassination science

In the May 20 In Review, your short description of a book I edited, Assassination Science: Experts Speak Out on the Death of JFK, blandly calls it a compilation of "various documents, by a variety of people, that dispute the findings of the Warren Commission." These "documents" include studies establishing that autopsy X-rays have been fabricated, that diagrams and photographs in the National Archives are of someone other than JFK, and that the Zapruder film has been extensively edited using highly sophisticated techniques. The "people" include a world authority on the human brain who is also an expert on wound ballistics, a Ph.D. in physics who is board-certified in radiation oncology, and other experts on different aspects of the evidence in this case. Our findings do indeed contradict the Warren Report, but their importance seems to have been missed by PAW.

James H. Fetzer '62
Duluth, Minn.

Praying for Princeton

Re "Praying for Princeton's soul," (PAW, May 20), alumni may be interested to learn there is also a network of over 60 people praying for God's work at Princeton. We receive frequent updates from the campus by mail, and ask God for His blessing upon the school and its people. Those interested in joining may contact me at 172 Taylors Mills Rd., Manalapan, NJ 07726 (tel., 732-446-4753; e-mail, jasko@monmouth.com).

Kenneth P. Jasko '78
Manalapan, N.J.

Grammatical correctness

Cringe not, William Metcalf III '45! I read your April 22 letter, and I wish more people in society shared your thirst for grammatical correctness.

Most usage handbooks recommend that the word "different" be followed by "than" if it has a noun clause following it, as it did in the sentence in question from the February 11 Notebook: "We pick apart the elements that make a sexual relationship different in 1910 than it was in 1830." "From" is used if the phrase is followed by a noun, not a noun clause: "different ... from the way it was in 1830."

Glenn Berkey '89
Hong Kong