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Millennial overstatement, Gieg response
TREASURES OF TRANSOXANIA?
enjoyed the article on the new Silk Route exhibition at the University Museum
and look forward to seeing it during my forthcoming visit to Philadelphia [Silk
Across the Sands, January/February]. I was, however, a bit surprised
and amused to read that the show includes artifacts from over four millennia
of Uzbek history and culture. This is perhaps overstating the case a little,
since the Uzbeks only occupied their present abode around A.D. 1500, and they
only came about as a people in the 14th or 15th century (their eponymous founder,
a khan of the Mongol Golden Horde, only ruled in the early 14th century).
would be more historically correct and more politically neutral to say over
four millennia of Transoxanian history and culture. All of this, of course,
does not detract from the good offices of the government of Uzbekistan in facilitating
what appears to be an important and attractive exhibition.
Reuven Amitai (Kahn)
ARTICLE MISSED BIG PICTURE
was dismayed by your piece about Dr. Robert F. Giegengack [The
World According to Gieg, January/February]. As a graduate of Penns
environmental studies and geology programs, I benefited greatly from Giegs
scientific mentorship as well as his many years of dedication in building the
interdisciplinary environmental studies program at Penn. The environmental issues
we face today as a society are technically complex, economically important and
emotionally provocative, and we are sadly lacking in our ability to think critically
and communicate about their resolution. As a senior environmental geochemist
working daily with resource management challenges, I meet many entry-level environmental
scientists from other undergraduate programs who miss the big picture
perspective that Gieg has worked so hard to provide at Penn. Your focus on the
opinion of an annoyed administrator, rather than on the unique contributions
Gieg and his students have made to the understanding and solution of problems
like global climate change and environmental resource management, is disappointing
Lisa Bithell Kirk
article about Gieg was wonderful. As a former student of his, I have to say
its about time he gets the recognition he deserves. Penn needs to reward
professors for outstanding classroom performancenot just for their research.
Giegs enthusiasm and encouragement stretch far beyond the classroom and
academic lives of his students. Hes there for personal support too!! Hes
also there just to hang out with and have fun. In all of my postgraduate studies
I have yet to find a professor as fabulous as Gieg. He truly is one of a kind.
Mercedes Sink Holmen
ATTEMPT TO DISCREDIT PENNS
changes that have occurred at the University of Pennsylvania in the last 30
years are very disheartening to those of us who came of age in an era that espoused
values that have been turned upside down by the Universitys spineless
embrace of leftist politics and social engineering.
now Greg Robinson, author of an article entitled Admission
Denied [January/February]. His primary motivation, currently in vogue
in many elitist quarters, is merely a baldfaced attempt to discredit Penns
WASPy forebears whose only fault was to administer what was then a great institution
of higher learning and who in 1941-42 were deeply concerned about the future
of our country due to the catastrophic military setbacks that we were then experiencing.
is particularly galling is the use of the phrase anti-Japanese hysteria
sweeping the United States. Well, when half of your fleet is on the bottom
and your outmanned and outgunned soldiers are being captured and beheaded with
Samurai swords, you might get a little nervous about some of those folks living
in L.A., too. How would the authorities know for certain whether or not Miss
Nakano was an agent for Japan? Because she didnt wear a rising-sun flag
on her sweater? How would you be certain that a navy carrier with 3,500 personnel
aboard slipping out of Philadelphia wasnt being observed by an Axis agent?
Isnt 20-20 hindsight great?
article conjures up a so-called nationwide storm of protest in l944 just because
a Nisei woman wasnt welcome at Penn at a time when we were losing thousands
of men out in the Pacific; when we were still faced with the Philippines, Guam,
Saipan, Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa campaigns. Even Tokyo Rose wouldnt
buy that one!
war was not Kosovo; this was a struggle to save the world from two fiendish
militaristic regimes and, while some steps were taken that in this day and age
may seem unpalatable, they were taken and its done with.
Gazette and Mr. Robinson should at least have the decency to stop impugning
the character and motivation of well-meaning people of the past who undoubtedly
lived by a different ethos than yourselves and attempt to find other means of
rearranging history so that it is congruent with your ethos.
Hillsboro Beach, Fla.
ALIVE WITH HISTORY
on the River in the January/February issue was a great article bringing
the past and present together in a highly interesting and constructive manner.
some of your readers might be interested as to how that precious commodity,
water, was carried into the early homes. The photo (below left) shows a section
of an early Philadelphia wooden water pipe. The interior diameter carrying the
water is approximately four-and-a-half inches, while the exterior diameter of
the tree is a variable 15 inches at this particular point. The wood is now as
dark as the photograph indicates, and while not particularly pretty, this becomes
alive with history after reading Susan Lonkevichs article.
section was obtained from discards when the city was replacing the old wooden
pipes by my great grandfather, Henry Peter Miller Birkinbine, who was connected
with the water department. The section is now displayed in our home in Tucson,
along with other early Philadelphia memorabilia.
was with profound disappointment that I read the article covering the lecture
given by Derrick Bell at Penn recently [Gazetteer,
January/February]. In praising A. Leon Higginbotham (praise well deserved),
Bell characterizes him as one determined to speak the truth as he saw
it. How ironic that Bell uses that quote just prior to attacking Justice
Clarence Thomas, who is evidently to be condemned for seeing the truth differently!
I would certainly agree with Bell that racism, by
both whites and blacks, is still a part of the fabric of our society and that
the idea of color-blindness is a myth. One might as well say that he or she
is blind to how tall a person is or whether the person is male or female. Our
society will overcome this problem only when we can truly say that we are aware
of anothers differences but will still treat that person with the respect
he or she deserves simply on the basis of his or her humanity.
hope that in the near future, I will find an article in the Gazette with
a countervailing point of view.
C55 D58 GM61
Chevy Chase, Md.
ISSUE OF FINANCIAL CONFLICT OF
read with some disappointment the article Gene-Therapy Researchers Probe
Patients Death [Gazetteer,
January/February]. My disappointment does not relate to the medical issues and
protocolsissues on which I am not qualified to commentcited in the
article, but to the issue which was not discussed or even alluded tofinancial
conflict of interest. Much of The Washington Post coverage of this story
dealt with the possible financial conflict of interest of one of the principal
investigators (PIs) in the study.
public looks to universitiesas opposed to private-sector companiesto
conduct studies and investigations free of any direct, indirect or even apparent
financial conflict of interest. Even then, as I can relate from personal experience
in reviewing work of PIs, it is quite a task to be sure that both technical
and philosophic biases of individuals are removed or compensated for in the
disappointing was the absence of any reference to financial conflicts of interest
in the quotes by Penn bioethicist Dr. Arthur Caplan cited in the article. He
is most certainly correct that more university review is called for. What is
not mentioned is that even those reviewing the work of such studies have to
be absolutely free from any financial conflict of interest.
of us who have been associated with the federal government are familiar with
financial disclosure statements and, in some cases, absolute prohibitions against
even owning stock of a company or entire industry regulated by a department
or agency. Certainly such measures would cause some to refuse to participate,
but is not the public entitled to the assurance that those conducting studies
which may ultimately affect their survival did so with no real or apparent financial
Richard A. Greenstein
For more on this story,
turn to page 14.Ed.
Shadows with FIRE overstates the case [Gazetteer,January/February].
Although Dr. Alan Kors in his book, The Shadow University: The Betrayal of
Liberty on Americas Campuses, deserves commendations for bravery for
exposing Penn as the most politically correct university in the nation
(Philadelphia Inquirer), he stops woefully short of applying his analysis
to the present administration of President Judith Rodin. As your article confirms,
Kors praises Rodin, which raises the question whether his courage runs out when
it comes to his current employer.
claims that Penn has abolished its speech code, credits Rodin for it and admires
her achievement. All three are contradicted by the record. According to Rodin,
and confirmed by other official sources at Penn, the Code of Student Conduct
provides substantially as follows: Student speech may be subject to discipline
when it violates applicable laws or University regulations or policies
which condemn, among other examples, hate speech, epithets, and racial,
ethnic, sexual and religious slurs.
is clear notice that Penn has not learned a thing. In confirmation, Rodin refuses
to amend the speech code to provide: Speech protected by the First Amendment
shall not be punished at the University of Pennsylvania.
Rodin regime is precisely the type of censorship and terror which Kors
book condemns in other institutions. In all honesty, he ought to turn his attention
to the University of Pennsylvania and stop hiding in the shadows.
relevant section of the Code of Student Conduct includes among the Responsibilities
of Student Citizenship: (d) To refrain from conduct towards other
students that infringes upon the Rights of Student Citizenship. The University
condemns hate speech, epithets, and racial, ethnic, sexual and religious slurs.
However, the content of student speech or expression is not by itself a basis
for disciplinary action. Student speech may be subject to discipline when it
violates applicable laws or University regulations or policies.Ed.
HIGH ON THE HIGH-RISES
disagree with many of the criticisms of the Superblock plaza and high-rise buildings
[September/October and several letters
in subsequent issues]. Criticizing the look of the high-rise slabs
of concrete without considering the benefits of the view one has from
the tops of those buildings is like criticizing the aesthetics of an airplane
without acknowledging that it can fly. People say that they want buildings that
relate to their surroundings. The high-rises offer a view of metropolitan
Philadelphia and the University which is a living map. There are plenty of residential-scale
buildings on the periphery of the campus that blend in well with the scale of
the adjoining neighborhood. But the surrounding the Superblock towers
relates the University to is metropolitan Philadelphia (which needs
as close and cooperative a relationship to Penn as it can get). The towers are
a good complement to the scale of Center City. They say, Here is the urban
experience on our campus. We are a piece of the city. This is nothing
to apologize for. Its a necessity for the modern theme-park campus.
have always built towers to see and to be seen. A high-rise is an urban village.
There is a great sense of connectedness with the surroundings one sees from
the high-rise. At dusk, there is the deep blue or crimson sky, with the lights
going on in the city. During the day, there is the quality of air and light
and ones intimacy with the weather. One gains a perspective on ones
surroundings which is more inclusive than that seen from the ground. As for
the plaza, when looked at as a bare form, or in the middle of an ice storm,
its a very barren and desolate place. But on a beautiful spring or autumn
day, it is the largest open space on campus and is packed with young people
cavorting. On those days, it has a little taste of the experience of New Yorks
Washington Squarethe heart of the NYU campus.
is no argument that many people love buildings with a livable scale.
Urban people just like livability on a bigger scale. To appreciate the architectural
language of Superblock, you have to like the excitement of higher human density.
You have to like being up in the air so you can see more of whats going
on. You have to like the weather of sky and light. And from the point of view
of being seen, the towers are a visual landmark, pointing out the presence of
the University for miles and miles around, and from many different vantage points.
students in Frank Kawasakis great Architecture 200 class, we used to draw
up in the lounges that occupy the top floors of those towers. It was an exhilarating
experience. G. Holmes Perkins made a brave and valuable contribution to Penn
in the design for the Superblock.
SUPERBLOCK: FABULOUS VIEW, A
have been meaning to respond to your article The Man Behind Superblock
since the September/October issue of the Gazette arrived [Notes
from the Undergrad]. As a member of the Class of 1972, I was among
the first students to live in Harrison House in Superblock in 1970. My roommates
and I thought it was a beautiful placemodern apartments complete with
kitchens and nice-sized furnished bedrooms.
on the 19th and later the 17th floors, my view was fantastic, just as it was
from the rooftop lounge. I photographed many a beautiful sunset through those
apartment windows. Harrison House was a great place to live! I am amazed at
all the criticism of Superblock and would like to thank G. Holmes Perkins for
giving me and many of my friends a wonderful living
we begin to look at colleges for our daughter and son in the future, the dorm
room will be important to me. Our lovely appartment of 30 years ago is
a standard against which I will measure college dorms. Many schools could take
a lesson from Penns housing. I am very thankful I was lucky enough to
live in Superblock so many years ago. It will always be a special memory.
Roberta (Sarlo) Fedder
WEALTH FOR WHAT?
November/December issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette unintentionally depicted
the great irony of our time: We live in a society that can now almost effortlessly
produce a generation of near centi-millionaires that are under the
age of 30 (From Zip to X), but
we cannot simultaneously solve the most fundamental social problems that exist
in the ground zero neighborhoods of Americas cities (High
Noon in the Hood). I can only hope that these Web-made millionaires
will realize that the most fulfillment and greatness will come not from the
attainment of 100 lifetimes of earnings in five years, but from the opportunity
that such wealth provides to build a community and a culture.
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