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Stouffer loyalists unite, shallow "waves," and more.

 

LOSS OF STOUFFER LEAVES TRANSFER ALUMNI ANCHORLESS
   
I am a former Stouffer College House resident. I transferred to Penn as a junior and spent both my years there living in Stouffer. I recently read in The Pennsylvania Gazette that the University plans to demolish Stouffer Triangle, and erect a new larger dining facility in its stead ["Gazetteer," Jan/Feb]. I know I can speak for many of my Stouffer housemates when I say what disturbing news this is.
   Like myself, not a few Penn alumni transferred in to Penn and never lived anywhere else except Stouffer while we were undergrads. If Stouffer is torn down, what happens to the anchor for our nostalgia? We are not like other classes who can return to Penn any time, look at the Quad, and say, "Ah yes, this is where I lived as a freshman during my Penn career. It still looks the same as I remember it." What are we supposed to tell our spouses and children upon visiting our alma mater, "Yeah, you see that dining hall? Well there used to be this great building there, and that's where I lived when I was here. You see? My room used to be right where that exhaust port is now."
   This is a tragedy. I have personal knowledge of people who met and fell in love with their future husbands or wives in Stouffer, who experienced life-changing events right there. What can we do to preserve the best cornerstone of our fond memories of the University of Pennsylvania? At the very least, I hope someone will have the class and compassion to organize some sort of Stouffer alumni reunion for all the former residents before they tear down our beloved fortress. Yes, change is inevitable, yes change is often a positive thing. But make no mistake. The demolition of Stouffer is bad. It's wrong. And it is very, very sad.

Larry Hayden
C'92
Tuxedo, New York
   
NO SHOCK, BUT SADNESS
   
In the latest issue of the Gazette, several upcoming campus renovations were mentioned; one of them was the demolition of my home at Penn, Stouffer College House. While the news was not that much of a shock (I knew that whole building was due for some serious work!), I was nonetheless very saddened by it. I lived in Stouffer for three unforgettable years as an undergraduate, and I have many good memories of the place and of my fellow Stoufferites. I hope your magazine will make an effort to say a little more about the destruction of this residence than just a passing note. I'm sure I am not the only one who will bid it a fond farewell.
   I look forward to receiving every new issue of the Gazette. Keep up the good work!
Christina Uss
C'95
Santa Barbara, Calif.
   
ARE ALL FEMINISTS THIN?
   
When I came upon the article, "Making Waves" [Jan/Feb], which was about the women's studies program, I had to stop and stare in amazement. The photo collage provided by Carolyn Guss had certainly caught my attention, but I'm fairly sure that it was not in the way that you (or she) intended. There, bobbing on photographic waves and supported by columns provided by Maxfield Parrish, were a variety of women: young and old, of varying race, and all of them thin.
   Certainly, when one thinks of college one thinks of the young, ambitious students. But are they all thin? This prompts me to ask, "Are your anorexia and bulimia clinics overflowing with patients?"
   As a portrait artist, I know the value of the visual image. Many of my customers are overweight and regardless of their position in life, they remain uncertain of how they are perceived in society. And no wonder, when they are daily inundated with images of what is considered "beautiful": supermodels so tall and thin that one wonders if they are not actually from another planet; weight-loss commercials that focus not on the health benefits of losing weight but on how one looks; clothing that is designed for women with the figures of teenagers and with particularly small breasts. Yet I only had to touch pencil to paper while drawing these women to discover their power and sense of self: they dress well and have presence. And their faces are beautiful.
   I am not fat, but I would hardly characterize myself as thin. I would say that I cut a fine figure of a woman: I am successful, happy, and feel good about myself. My self confidence does not stem from being thin. I very much doubt that most women at Penn put so much store in their body-fat content. To do so would mean that they lacked depth (i.e., their degree would be a "Mrs.," as they used to say -- hardly women's studies material.) As I said above, appearance is not governed by weight: A woman can be attractive without having to diet down to 95 pounds.
   Would not those participating in the women's studies program rather have seen some graphic representation of women's goals and achievements, perhaps pertaining to the quote about the fields of study the program has touched upon? There are so many Penn women who have made contributions, so many female artists and writers to portray.
   Forgive me this rant, but the waters in this collage were a little shallow for my taste.

Sophia Kelly Shultz
C'84
Pottsville, Pa.
   
WOMEN'S STUDIES ARTICLE OFFERED A FIX OF THE FATUOUS AND FARCICAL
   Just when I was concerned that the tenure of Judith Rodin as president of the University would bring an end to the "News of the Fatuous" to which I became strongly addicted in The Pennsylvania Gazette over the last 10 years, your January-February issue contained a lengthy summary of the 25th anniversary celebration of Penn's women's studies program ["Making Waves"]. Whoo -- what a fix!
   I leave it to alumni who are so inclined to comment substantively on the proceedings. I just want to thank you for again breathing some of that farcical Pennsylvania air into my lungs.
   Dr. Ann Mayer finds a "striking parallel" between women in the United States and many Muslim women -- man, you just can't find clearer examples of missing the forest for the trees than in the pages of the Gazette. Be sure to update us when Dr. Mayer makes the big move to Afghanistan!
   But Dr. Mayer's contribution pales next to that of the English Department graduate student who, in all seriousness, it seems, throws around phrases like "transnational sexuality" (making whoopee on the San Diego/Tijuana border?) and the wonderfully polysylabbic gibberish "polymorphously perverse heterosexuality." I do not know the intended meaning of this phrase, but I'm pretty sure there wasn't nearly enough of it going on when I was at Penn!
   To those students and faculty striving for education leading to the betterment of world societies, who care not for the race, faith, or gender of those whom their education may serve, I say "Hail, Pennsylvania!" To those who've found a program seemingly unconcerned with educational merit, so long as the correct political symbols are addressed, I ask, "Can the Gazette which covers the 50th anniversary please be a double issue?"

Matthew D. Arbit
C'83, G'83
Highland Park, Ill.
   
WHERE THERE'S SMOKE ...

   Re: "Taking On the Tobacco Giants" [Jan/Feb].
   Of all the acts of social and political malevolence which Penn has committed and supported over the years, none has angered me more than the ownership of over $10 million of stocks in the two largest tobacco manufacturing conglomerates in the world (RJR Nabisco and Philip Morris). I found the work of Mr. Novelli to be extremely honorable, and am disturbed that Penn silently supports tobacco. Of course, the support is not always silent: commissaries in Penn dorms carry a variety of tobacco products. Perhaps Mr. Novelli should visit our campus.

Andrew Lurie
C'00
Philadelphia

PLAYING WITH FIRE
   I was struck by the numbers cited in Susan Lonkevich's fine article about anti-tobacco lobbyist Bill Novelli. Smoking leads to more than 400,000 deaths a year, she points out. That figure excludes those who are maimed and disabled. By my estimate, these statistics are the equivalent of 5 or 6 major airline disasters a day -- a long and unbroken chain of daily catastrophe whose main purpose is to feed the machinery of profit. About 90 percent of adult smokers, she writes, were already caught up in their habit by age 18. The tobacco industry's $5 billion marketing budget, which each day ensnares 3,300 child smokers, assures that the grim harvest of death will continue well into the next century.
   My mom, a smoker for over 50 years, has just been diagnosed with lung cancer, and the prognosis is not good. When she was a child, though, we didn't know how dangerous and addictive a substance tobacco is -- at least the public didn't. Given everything we now know about the harmfulness of smoking, I can't help asking why I see so many smart and well-informed undergraduates lighting up on Penn's campus. The answer, I tell myself, is that they are children. They, of course, would rightly bridle at this characterization, but their brief lives and youthful vitality conspire to tell them they are immortal.
   Labels warning that cigarettes are "hazardous to your health" are not convincing to those who have not lived long enough to feel in their bones the beginning of the body's decline. It is this youthful naiveté that the marketers exploit. One would think that, as adults -- as parents -- we would rather use our experience and wisdom to guide our children in their innocence, not take advantage of it. When a toddler learns to walk, we don't leave open the cellar door that leads down the dark stair. Or do we?

Peter Nichols
CGS'93
Philadelphia
   
EARLY RECOVERY

   I enjoyed Rob Hirtz's article, "Martin Seligman's Journey from Learned Helplessness to Learned Happiness" in the Jan/Feb Gazette.
   
However, I take issue with the idea that Dr. Aaron T. Beck was the first to "articulate" the concept that "severely negative or depressed emotional states are caused by the negative thoughts we tell ourselves." This statement completely overlooks the fine work done by Recovery, Inc. for over 60 years!
   Founded in Chicago in 1937 by Abraham A. Low, M.D., Recovery, Inc. provides a self-help program for post-psychotic and psychoneurotic persons based on the techniques of changing thoughts and controlling muscles in order to replace the negatives with positives in our emotional lives.
   The program is outlined in Dr. Low's text, Mental Health Through Will-Training, and places an emphasis on old-fashioned hard work and persistence in the effort to discard inappropriate behavior patterns and to replace them with more realistic ones.
   Currently, there are approximately 700 Recovery Groups meeting in the United States, Canada and Europe. I have the privilege of leading the meeting in Brook Park, Ohio.

Frederic B. Weller
W'65
Brook Park, Ohio
   
PUTTING PENCIL TO PAN
   
Your Jan/Feb issue provided some very useful information in the article on Martin Seligman, but the piece on restored statues electrified me ["Before & After"]!
   When I was on campus in 1947, after returning from the Army and all that, one of my personal therapies was drawing (i.e., avoiding verbal communication). One day I tried to draw the sundial just outside the library.
   Imagine my pleasure and surprise to see it again in this issue.
   In my effort to get educated, I actually took one of your courses on freehand drawing, but that was yet to come. I spent about 20 minutes to capture Pan, if I could, and this is how it came out.
Stan Carnarius
C'48
Lancaster, Pa.


CORRECTING SOME MYTHS OF THE SPRING OF 1993
   
I am not overjoyed that you have revived the "semester from hell" in your pages, but I understand the necessity ["Through a Glass Darkly," Nov/Dec 1998; "Notes From the Undergrad," Jan/Feb]. Like others caught up in the events on campus in the spring of 1993, I found it terribly painful, and I still do. I realize that I bear a special responsibility, not only because I was Penn's president, but because I was "twisting in the wind" as President Clinton's nominee to be chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The NEH was a symbolically sensitive site for the culture wars then raging out of control, thus making me a much more attractive target for people whose agendas did not have the welfare of Penn or of Penn students as first priority. Though I understand the process of myth-making and demonization, I am still not used to seeing the caricature with my name attached to it being paraded for stoning in the public square.
   I do therefore want to thank your writer, Sam Hughes, [in his article about Stephen Glass, C'93, "Through a Glass Darkly,"] for documenting two important truths that are contrary to the mythic version of that spring. The first is that I condemned the theft of the newspapers at the time it occurred. The second is that the decision not to discipline the students who stole the newspapers was made by others long after I had left the presidency. These are inconvenient facts for those who need me to play the villainous "Pope of Political Correctness" in their construction of the story.
   The other narrative thread from that spring involves the "water buffalo" case that quickly passed into the realm of fable and is now serving as the paradigmatic case for Professor Alan Kors in his book, The Shadow University, which insists that, "Universities have become the enemies of a free society ..." One of the measures of Professor Kors's rhetorical success is that journalists almost always describe the "water buffalo" case as the episode in which Eden Jacobowitz got into trouble by calling a group of noisy sorority sisters "water buffalo." If that were the whole truth, Professor Kors is right to call it "wacky." That is, however, a bit of edited reality. One can only understand the event, and the depth of anger felt by the black women students, if one realizes that Eden Jacobowitz was not alone when he uttered his curious epithet. He was part of a large group of white students who were hurling insults and racial slurs at the black women. It was an ugly racial confrontation.
   This is not to argue that Mr. Jacobowitz should have been punished. Indeed, I was confident at the time that the faculty-student disciplinary panel that was supposed to hear his case would not have found that he violated the racial harassment policy. The policy prohibited students from using racial insults in face-to-face confrontations for the sole purpose of hurting. The important point here, however, is that the student judicial charter provided that a faculty-student disciplinary panel was supposed to make that determination and not the president or the provost. Neither of us had a legitimate role. Consequently, once the charges were brought by the offended black women, there was nothing I could do to abort the process.
   For me to have intervened "unconstitutionally" would not only have denied the complainants their day in court, but would have embroiled the University in unpredictable but sure-to-be-serious troubles, probably even greater and longer-lasting than the troubles we actually experienced. As it worked out, under incredible pressure from national publicity, the process broke down. The hearing could never be completed. The complainants eventually decided to withdraw their charges so they would be free to tell their side of the story.
   Before the women withdrew their charges, however, Professor Kors, the faculty advisor to Eden Jacobowitz, called me more than once to ask that I intervene to throw the case out. Each time, I explained that I had no legitimate power to do so. The last time he called, he advised me that if I did not intervene he would have to "go public." I understood exactly what he meant and was not surprised by the media campaign that followed soon thereafter.
   Nor was I surprised when "water buffalo" questions dominated my Senate confirmation hearing. I conceded then, as I do now, that it was not wise to have even the sort of narrowly drawn racial harassment policy that Penn had. I had supported that policy when it was fashioned. Indeed, the policy was the outcome of a lengthy and careful process of consultation and public discussion, and it had the support of a strong consensus of the campus community. Unfortunately, the difficulty of applying even such a well- intentioned policy in a fair way was demonstrated by the "water buffalo" incident. I got that wrong, which I regret, but I don't think it was the crime of the century, as it is being portrayed.
   Even though we now know that using the disciplinary process to maintain decorum is not a good idea, that does not mean that Penn or any university should simply ignore the sort of hateful incivility that was the full reality of the "water buffalo" event. Universities have a moral obligation, and perhaps a legal one as well, to protect students from harassment at the hands of other students. Should we just smile benignly while students burn a cross on campus, or paint swastikas on Hillel, or shout hate-words at a gay and lesbian gathering? I don't think so. What we should do may vary with the context, and may require a lot of informal discussion among the people involved, but we must not ignore it.
   I wish we could discuss the complications and nuances of promoting the right kind of atmosphere on campus, rather than engaging in rancorous finger pointing.

Sheldon Hackney
Hon'93, Faculty
Philadelphia
   
NO QUARTER GIVEN FOR "CLOSE QUARTERS"
   
I have found the article, "Close Quarters," by Michael Brus ["Notes From the Undergrad," Jan/Feb], as well as the personal attacks on Sheldon Hackney in the "Letters" section of the same issue, disturbing and inappropriate in the pages of a University alumni publication.
   The Kors and Silvergate book, The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America's Campuses, is a timely item of significant interest to the academic community at large. A discussion of this work, especially as it is co-authored by a member of the University, would be of service to Gazette readers, including past events occurring at Penn referred to by the authors. Unfortunately, little information is offered by Brus about Kors's book, which instead is used as a springboard for one undergraduate's arguments regarding Sheldon Hackney and his tenure as President.
   Hackney is absurdly called by Brus the "Pope of Political Correctness." This is to misuse the term as currently understood, for no individual having grown up as Hackney and I both did in the pre-desegregation South can be accused of "political correctness." We have seen too much and, anyway, such a background is a virtual starting disqualification from within the movement.
   I do not wish to comment on Professor Hackney's talents as a crisis manager in academe or as a federal administrator. His record in these areas may have been an unhappy one; I, for one, am delighted to see Sheldon Hackney returned to his present, and original, calling.
   Occupation of offices on the same corridor in West Philadelphia can scarcely be an item of sufficient concern to Gazette readers to warrant two closely written pages. In any case, Professor Kors, as quoted by Brus, says it all: "I would have written the book anyway."

David B. Stewart
C'64
Tokyo, Japan
   
ELOQUENT TRIBUTE TO FORD
   
I have just finished reading Dan Rottenberg's eloquent tribute to Jerry Ford. I want to commend him for writing it, and you for publishing it. I was not one of those students who knew Mr. Ford, even casually, during my years at Penn. But even those of us who had no contact with him were impressed by his integrity, his diligence, and tenacity in the face of many obstacles, including what appeared to us to be frenzied alumni objections to his mission. The small honor that you have accorded him is long overdue.

Joel Turrell
C'65
Lewisburg, Pa.

OBITUARY ILLUMINATES UNFORTUNATE EPISODE
   
The Jan/Feb issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette includes the obituary of Jeremiah Ford, whose death occurred more than a year earlier. With this obituary is information that illuminates one of the unfortunate episodes that occurred at the University following the 1959 football season.
   In the obituary it is stated that only one Penn football team won more games than it lost during his 14-year tenure. Not mentioned is that winning 1959 season in which Penn tied Navy, lost only to Harvard, and won the Ivy League Championship. At the end of the season, Steve Sebo, Penn's football coach, was fired. Also, a few Penn football players were invited to a post-season all-star game that was played in the Christmas-New Year break. They were told expulsion from the University would result if they participated.
   Based on Jeremiah Ford's obituary, it appears that for Penn to have been completely accepted into the Ivy League in 1954, he and Penn's new president, Dr. Gaylord P. Harnwell, Hon'53, either promised or assumed that a losing football program was essential. When Steve Sebo's coaching contract was not renewed at the end of the 1959 season, we (the students) were told that the decision had been made a year earlier in response to alumni pressure. However, instead of buying out the 1959 year of Sebo's contract prior to the season's first game, they must have assumed he would deliver another losing team. This did not happen, so when Penn fired Sebo, the University was the object of ridicule in many, many places.
   This brings me to the final part of this letter. Gaylord P. Harnwell was a great president, and, based on Jeremiah Ford's obituary, he was outstanding. Yet one of Ford's objectives that "no one would be used as we were used" (when he was a Penn undergrad) was not fully realized because Penn football during his tenure was used and sacrificed to achieve objectives outside the football program.

William L. Keltz
EE'61, GEE'62, GrE'78
West Chester, Pa.

CALLING ALL COPYEDITORS
   
At the risk of being old-fashioned/ outdated, I feel a compulsion to comment on the next-to-the-last paragraph on page 35 of the Nov/Dec 1998 issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette, which quotes Charlie Ornstein, C'96 ["Through a Glass Darkly"].
   Language phrased in a grammatically correct fashion is not necessarily stiff or fossilized. Contrarily, the reverse may or may not be accurate, depending upon the thrust of the intended thought and its syntax.
   With the above in mind, can anyone explain why Mr. Ornstein's first sentence was not phrased: "If you talk to anyone who was there at the same time as he, I think you'll find no one/none at the paper who questioned his ethics or integrity at all" rather than "If you talk to anyone who was there at the same time as him, I don't think you'll find anyone at the paper who questioned his ethics or integrity at all." (In the spoken or printed word it is prudent for the speaker or writer to avoid advertising that he/she "doesn't think.")
   Now to the fifth line, same paragraph: "To the contrary, among the people whom (not who) he trained and supervised ..."
   As a chemistry major at Penn 1947-1952 who took two years of then-mandatory courses in the English department followed by several elected courses, I'm a bit surprised by a former DP executive editor's choice of words
.
Virginia (Young Steele) Grubb
New York
   
   It's become common in journalism to quote a speaker's exact words rather than rephrasing them to be grammatical, even in cases (like this one, no doubt) where the speaker could do so him or herself. This makes for greater accuracy and more natural speech, but it can sometimes be taken more farther than it ought to be, though. -- Ed.
   


BRINGING BACK "LOST CLASSES"
   
The wartime classes of 1943 to 1948 have become the orphans of the University. In my own case for example, originally starting Penn in 1941 as a member of the class of 1945, I had the choice when I graduated in 1947 after 3S years in the Army Air Corps, of being class of '47 or '45. I chose '45. Many of my classmates chose '46, '47, or '48, the class with which they actually graduated.
   I feel that the University is missing a golden opportunity to reengage the members of these classes who have lost their class ties and other ties to the University. The desire to remain part of the University family is apparent from the reunions that different groups such as ours are holding. Let's face it, there is not much time left, for the obvious reasons.
   One suggestion is that part of the Alumni Weekend ceremonies for 2000 (though it may already be too late) or the year 2001 be devoted to the classes of 1943-1948 to celebrate their ties to the University and also recognize their service in World War II. Another suggestion is that a Homecoming or other football game be used as the focal point for what could be made a meaningful day recognizing these lost classes. Many of us have children and grandchildren who have attended or are attending the University now. What better way to cement that relationship?

Harold J. Buxbaum
W'45
Woodbridge, Conn.
   
CORRECT CITATION: MEDAL OF HONOR
   
I enjoyed your piece on Private Murphy, ["Alumni Profiles," Nov/Dec 1998] since I regularly drove by the Federal Center named for him in Waltham, Massachusetts, when I was stationed at Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts. However, I must point out that you have committed the popular mistake of referring to Private Murphy as a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. The correct term is simply the Medal of Honor.
   Some of the confusion on this issue may result from three sources. First, although the citation does state that the award is given in the name of the Congress of the United States, the word Congressional is not a part of the title of the medal. Second, President Eisenhower established the Congressional Medal of Honor Society for all recipients. He also was in error when he used that title. Last, this method of referral continues to the present day and seems almost natural, even though it is not correct.
   I felt a publication of your quality would appreciate learning this information for reference in future issues.

Major John Terino
C'86, G'91
King of Prussia, Pa.
   
DOCTOR JOKE
   
Your correspondent on the subject of self-medication by physicians ["Gazetteer," Jan/Feb] seems to claim authorship of an old adage which has been around Penn for over half a century, at least. My classmates and I heard about this from one of the Peppers, Bill or Perry, and for this reason I wonder whether it doesn't go back to Sir William Osler.
   Only one word is changed: "The physician who treats himself has a fool for a consultant."

Robert D. Krudener
M'44
Naples, Fla.

INVISIBLE INK
   I enjoy reading the Gazette but have one nit-picking complaint. Many of your headings are printed in an ink so faint that they are hard to read. I suggest that you rein in your over- zealous designer in the interest of simple legibility.

Edward H. Rosenberry
Gr'53
Hockessin, Del.
   
COMMENDATION FROM A CRITIC
   As a frequent critic of The Pennsylvania Gazette in years past, I must write and commend you on the excellence of the "new" Gazette.
   
The Jan/Feb copy is outstanding in every respect.
   The wonderful design work, the structure, the splendid articles (I did find the long-forgotten issue of Sheldon Hackney and political correctness to be somewhat belabored), the abundant use of color all combined to make this an outstanding magazine -- by any criteria.
   And you are now only two years behind on obituaries -- a definite improvement!
   Congratulations. And keep up the superior work.

Harold B. Montgomery
W'39
Ambler, Pa.

ARTICLE REVIVED FAMILY MEMORY
   
The Nov/Dec 1998 issue of the Gazette, with its "The Flu of 1918" article by Eileen A. Lynch, served as a family memory for me. My grandmother, Regina Mazzatenta, died on October 18, 1918 as a result of influenza. Ms. Lynch's research allowed me to feel like I was reading the newspapers of Philadelphia, including The Pennsylvanian, during October of 1918. This opportunity really touched my heart. Personally, I felt that it was a memorial for her.
   Thank you, Ms. Lynch, for giving me this experience.

Rosemary Mazzatenta
Ed'53, GEd'56
Philadelphia
   
MOST VIVID MEMORY: WAGONLOADS OF COFFINS RUMBLING DOWN THE COBBLESTONE PAVING
   
The flu epidemic of 1918 may be one of the "least remembered" in history, but I remember it vividly.
   I was seven years old, the youngest of eight children, and we happened to live not far from Penn -- 38th and Haverford. My father was a house painter and had to take jobs wherever he could find them, even though he knew it meant working in houses that might be contaminated. My mother actually helped nurse some of the neighbors who were sick. Yet, somehow, we were lucky and none of us got sick.
   I remember the little sacks of chopped onions that many people wore suspended from their necks, believing this would prevent them from getting the flu, but my most vivid memory is of the wagonloads of coffins rumbling down the cobblestone paving of Haverford Avenue.
   Another vivid memory of that time (though not related to the epidemic) had to do with the ending of the war. About a week before Germany surrendered there were reports that the war had ended. This was referred to as the "false armistice." It was celebrated by a small parade down Haverford Avenue consisting of about 100 slightly tipsy men following a wheelbarrow pulled by a goat. Inside was a very happy, but unconscious, drunk around whose neck was draped a sign proclaiming: "We got the Kaiser's goat."
Philip M. Field
ME'33
Valley Stream, N.Y.
   

   

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