Letters: December 20, 1995
Putting Away Mosquera
For the Record
Calling a Cappellas
To Cheryl Pollak '75 and Beth Wilkinson '84 and to the federal investigators who brought them the essential evidence and witnesses for their prosecution: highest congratulations, maximum acclaim, and utmost gratitude for a job well done! ("Putting Away Mosquera," by Dan White '65; paw, November 8). Their difficult job demanded the highest levels of skill in investigation and legal analysis and no small measure of personal courage. Because these two outstanding alumnae and the investigators who found the evidence took on the task and carried it to successful completion regardless of setbacks, the ideal of the rule of law triumphs again, good overcomes evil, and all citizens are a bit safer and freer.
The achievements of these civil servants undermine the stereotype that now dominates our political discourse, radio talk shows, television and motion pictures, and much of the print media. There we find federal bureaucrats depicted as incompetents; lazy, inflexible drudges devoted to senseless rules, not to solving problems; and outofcontrol rogues intent on imposing a police state on the nation. Federal officials and the work they do every day, when you learn more about them, are nothing like this. It makes one think about the validity of stereotypes.
Joseph W. Howe '54
Congratulations to author Dan White for his gripping account of "Putting Away Mosquera" and to the heroines of his piece, Cheryl Pollak and Beth Wilkinson, for their successful prosecution of Colombian bomber and assassin Dandeny Mosquera.
As a former resident of Colombia who continues to monitor human rights in that country, however, I would offer one clarification. White quotes Pollak as saying that once the trial got underway, "I think he [Mosquera] realized it didn't matter if he eliminated me, someone else would step right in. It wasn't like Colombia."
Her statement might suggest to some that lawabiding, justice-seeking Colombians are rare and easily silenced, but quite the opposite is true. In the face of what have probably been the Western Hemisphere's highest levels of drug-related and political killings-and political killings far exceed drugrelated killings in Colombia-it is amazing how many dedicated Colombian judges and law-enforcement personnel willingly step forward to replace fallen or terrorized colleagues. Let's give credit where credit is due.
We might also contemplate how the work of people like Pollak and Wilkinson is undermined when Washington, in the name of geopolitics, avails itself of drug kingpins and their criminal enterprises around the world. Too often, U.S. officials-our Ivy League's best and brightest among them-have coddled drug lords in order to advance narrow policy goals. During the 1980s, George Bush (Yale), James Baker '52 (Princeton), and Elliott Abrams (Harvard) were all in positions of responsibility and power relative to U.S. collusion with drug lords in Latin America and Pakistan. Sooner or later, we pay the price.
Garry Emmons (Harvard '67)
Your October 11 article on the Princeton chapter of Habitat for Humanity stated that Dean of the Chapel Joseph Williamson was the only member of the faculty or staff to participate in the reconstruction project on Wiley Street in Trenton. Be it known that this administrator's calendar records an afternoon spent driving screws and sanding there on December 9, 1994. I know that at least one member of the chaplains' staff of the United Campus Ministries also took part. My participation reflected both a personal commitment to service and a symbolic commitment on behalf of the 250th Anniversary.
Burton Malkiel *64, the chair of the Anniversary Planning Committee, and I have made service an important part of the overall plans for the 250th celebration. In 1993, we began formulating a proposal to establish at Princeton a Center for Community Service. With minimal incremental staff, the center would provide for infrastructure activities that the university cannot now offer its volunteers, whether undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, staff, or alumni. The proposed activities would enhance the total pedagogical benefit of service and increase the effectiveness of volunteer hours. They would also forge links between the curriculum and outreach projects, train volunteers, maintain a registry of skills and opportunities, identify sources of funding for projects, and offer counseling for those seeking careers in public service, broadly defined. Support for the proposed center is increasing, and it is included in the table of needs of the Anniversary Campaign. Service is a notion that reaches back to Princeton's earliest roots, and I hope that all alumni will join in making this dream a reality.
Dorothy Bedford '78
Executive Director, 250th Anniversary
For the 250th Anniversary, Princeton needs a statement of what it stands for. Any attempt to articulate the fundamental values of the university would no doubt spark a lively debate and also help to reinvigorate a collective sense of purpose. The following principles are not intended to be reflective of the social, political, or educational agenda of the moment but of the deeper values that have endured since the founding of the institution. Many of them may seem commonplace, but their acceptance is far from universal in the contemporary world. I believe the promotion of these beliefs and values remains a vital mission for the university.
(1) Knowledge is a good unto itself. Learning should not be mocked, and ignorance should not be celebrated. (2) We believe in the power of human reason and are committed to bringing integrity, rigorous analysis, and the principles of scientific investigation to all fields of human inquiry. (3) Truth exists, and we are committed to its discovery and defense. (4) At the same time, we abhor complacency and parochialism, and encourage lively questioning of established verities. (5) Intellectual investigation should be informed by the perspectives of many different times, places, and people. (6) We esteem accomplishment in all fields of human endeavor, especially when achieved through great learning, inspired creativity, and hard work. (7) We revere the record of human culture and are committed to its study and preservation. (8) We will promote excellence in oral and written expression. (9) Personal relations should be based on mutual respect. (10) Service to the community is a duty for all those who have the benefit of a Princeton education.
Frederic C. Rich '77
The November 8 letter of Hugh M. F. Lewis '41 points out the importance of articulating the goals of a research university.
Mr. Lewis intones that "the purpose of a university is to provide its students with a firstrate liberal- arts education." Of course, instruction is one of our primary goals. But the idea of a research university rests on the conviction that its proper role is the creation and dissemination of knowledge. The same issue of paw includes an account of fundamental insights gained by Princeton's latest Nobel laureate, biologist Eric Wieschaus, and his coworkers through years of painstaking work, much of it done while teaching at research universities. This work has already begun to pay medical dividends.
Research universities also rest on the conviction that those most engaged in creating new knowledge are best suited to teach it. In Wieschaus's field, important new knowledge is exploding. Research may take away from the time we spend in direct contact with undergraduates, but there is no other way to stay at the cutting edge. If any of us were to spend all our working week in the classroom, we'd be obsolete in five years-and our students would be obsolete from day one.
Faculty at research universities spend time not only teaching but creating new courses. We spend many hours supervising student research. Summers and sabbaticals are devoted to acquiring new knowledge or to writing books, including those that benefit students.
Mr. Lewis seems to believe that time spent on research results in higher tuition. But is tuition cheap at Bennington or other top liberal-arts colleges, where faculty members supposedly focus more on teaching? Perhaps Mr. Lewis was thinking of state universities, where one can enjoy lower tuition thanks to the subsidies of taxpayers.
He suggests that Princeton takes government largess and funnels it into studies he abhors. Most research grants go to projects deemed important by the agencies that fund them and are managed by faculty members, who must then demonstrate their success to the agencies.
Yes, research is expensive-but valuable, too. Every form of medical imaging owes its existence to pure, not applied, research, much of it funded by government agencies. Some of us fear that our government is becoming less farsighted and that this will ultimately injure our health and prosperity.
Phil Nelson '80
Associate Professor of Physics,
University of Pennsylvania
I read with interest the article in the December 21, 1994 paw on "How World War II Changed Princeton."
I arrived on campus as part of the first contingent of troops reassigned under the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) in late December 1942. It was a ragtag lot with little commonality except that all of us had completed basic training. Princeton had the first ASTP contingent in the country.
We spent our first week drawing supplies and assembling the furniture, including a double-decker cot, for our assigned rooms. As time went on, the Army occupied the quads from the railroad station to Blair Arch. Split into groups of approximately 20 men each, we marched to all activities.
Your article states incorrectly that the ASTP focused on area and language studies. I believe a few of us were assigned to study Arabic, but the vast majority studied engineering.
As your article states, Howard Johnson's did take over the dining facilities in the spring of 1943. Within a week, we experienced what must have been the largest number of cases of diarrhea in the history of Princeton. At the next evening meal, every one of us walked through the line and dumped our food in the garbage. Colonel Fox had a few choice words, reminding us that Army personnel did not have the option of striking. That weekend we were restricted to campus and made to walk in formation on a 25-mile hike.
In December 1943 we completed the basic program and received a certificate in full graduation ceremonies in Alexander Hall. We were then given two-week Christmas furloughs and told to report back to Princeton for our advanced-training assignments. But on our return to campus, we found ourselves instead assigned as replacements to infantry units.
By early December 1944, I was part of the 106th Division, in a small town in Germany on a socalled "quiet front." The Battle of the Bulge started on December 16, and within six days our division had suffered a loss of approximately 5,000 men-700 killed, many wounded, and the remaining captured. I'm sure that some of those who gave their lives were from the contingent of the Princeton ASTP and are not among the names of war dead in the university's Memorial Hall.
Joseph A. Fischer '48
Due to a production error, our November 22 cover story on admissions repeated one line and dropped another. The dropped line occurred in the section about the admission of alumni children. The sentence should have read, "One day [Dean of Admission Fred] Hargadon was reviewing the folder of a young man who was an officer of the student government in his high school, an outstanding athlete, and the winner of a prestigious national science award."
In our October 11 feature about Professor of Physics Joseph Taylor, the caption for a photograph of Taylor at a party celebrating his Nobel prize should have stated that he was playing in a "mariachi" band (whose instruments may or may not include "maracas").
I am looking for alumnae in the Philadelphia area who are former a cappella singers to participate in an amateur singing group called PhilaCappella. Women interested in joining should call me at 215-6575786.
Huntington Valley, Penn.