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May/June Contents | Gazette
Penn's China "dynasty," condone or
rats and cats, goalpost gripe.
BUILDING ON A TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE IN CHINA STUDIES
Professor Avery Goldstein's comments about China ["The
China Syndromes," Mar/Apr] were of great interest to those of
us who have a professional and academic interest in that fascinating place.
It is also encouraging that the University continues to build upon its
tradition of excellence in China studies. For example, Dr. Nathan Sivin
[undergraduate chair of the department of history and sociology of science
and professor of Chinese culture] is without peer in the world as a historian
of Chinese science and medicine, and Dr. Arthur Waldron [the Lauder Professor
of International Relations] has an unequaled grasp of China's military
and strategic history. But this is what we should expect. A generation
ago, when China was an even more exotic subject than it is today, we were
fortunate to be taught by Dr. Derk Bodde, [emeritus professor of Chinese
studies], one of the greatest sinologists of the century.
WAR OVER WORDS
I did not want to respond to any of the discussion of
the spring of 1993. However, I am infuriated by the blatant attempt of
former University President Sheldon Hackney Hon'93 to rewrite history
As a former executive editor of the DP, I am
happy that Hackney now feels that condemning the theft of the newspapers
at the time that it occurred would have been a good thing. At the time
of the theft, I had a conversation with him in which he said, "I
do not condone the theft of the newspapers." I asked him (in my role
as a DP reporter at the time), if not condoning the theft would
mean that he would do something about it, or go so far as to say that
he would condemn the theft. He asked me to elaborate on the difference
between the two. I said that to condone something is to treat it as if
it is trivial or harmless, while to condemn something is to say that something
is wrong and act accordingly. He accused me of playing semantic acrobatics,
and refused to answer the question.
At that time, Hackney did not even wish to say that
he condemned the theft of the newspapers, much less to take a stand against
it. True, as Hackney points out, the decision not to discipline the students
who stole the newspapers was made by others "long after" he
had left the presidency. But his lack of action when it was most needed,
under such egregious circumstances, was a decision in and of itself. We
needed a University president who would stand up for freedom of expression.
Hackney was not that person.
The "resolution" of the spring of 1993, if
there can be any, can only come in two forms: by taking responsibility
for what we did or did not do at that time, and by recognizing that at
a university, intellectual freedom must always take precedence over politics.
I am ashamed on Dr. Hackney's behalf that, to date, he has done neither.
DISSENTING VOICE ON STOUFFER: "RATS!"
I was a resident of Stouffer between 1988-89 ["Letters,"
Mar/Apr]. What I remember with much dismay are the giant Wet Black Stouffer
Rats. At least once a week I would encounter one of these vile creatures
thrashing about around the grating and below the grand steps leading up
into the Stouffer residences. More than once I fantasized about bulldozing
down the entire complex and exterminating as many of those vermin as possible
in the process. I for one am all for destroying the whole decrepit and
CAT FOOD COMPUTATION
I disagree with Dr. Alan Mann's estimate of 30 million
pounds of "usable meat" from 3 million unwanted cats ["Don't
Worry, This Won't Be on the Exam," Mar/Apr]. I know he was only
trying to make a point, but even if those 3 million cats and kittens could
be available for rendering, you'd be lucky to wind up with 3 million pounds
of meat, not 30 million -- the average cat containing three pounds of
bone, two pounds of sweetmeats, two-to-three pounds of fat, a couple of
pounds of skin, viscera, blood, urine and stool, and a couple of pounds
of piss and vinegar.
But, maybe the question should be: Does it make sense,
from an energy point of view, for an omnivore to raise and consume a carnivore?
LETTER MADE "SOLID" POINT
Kudos to Matthew D. Arbit for his letter about Penn's
women's studies 25-year celebration ["Letters,"
I remember my dear late mother being a high-school teacher.
After the general faculty meetings, the principal would point to a corner
and announce: "Will the teachers of the solid subjects meet
me here." One day she asked the principal, "Do you want to talk
with the teachers of the pithy subjects?"
Let's face it: high-school art, music and physical education
are marble, granite and obsidian to the P.C. pith described by the Jan/Feb
The artwork that accompanied the cover story of the
March/April issue was wonderfully captivating in its ethereal vividness.
(I'm tempted to cut it out and frame it!) I hope we see more of Liz Pyle's
work in future issues.
DUMP GOALPOST TRADITION
It brought back memories when I read about the winning
exploits of our Quaker football team in "These Championship Seasons?"
["Sports," Jan/Feb]. However,
it pained me to read about and see the accompanying photograph of the
boisterous crowd tearing down the goalpost in celebration of the Ivy League
title in order to dump it in the Schuylkill River.
What concerns me -- aside from the obvious waste of
money, pollution of a natural resource and negative image this "tradition"
sends -- is the danger posed whenever football goalposts are uprooted
from a stadium's floor. If my memory serves me correctly from the early
1980s rejuvenation of Penn football, at least one student received a serious
head injury in the melee created in a similar attempt to extract a Franklin
At the risk of ruining the team's fun, I implore the
Gazette and the administration to prevent future injuries by neither
glorifying nor permitting this juvenile activity.
A LASTING DEBT
I was fascinated with the article on Spanish flu ["The
Flu of 1918," Nov/Dec 1998]. It came as my mother marked her
110th Christmas. She contracted Spanish flu in India in 1920 and was put
on a ship with the prediction that she would die before the vessel reached
Boston. At the same time my father got over the flu in Boston's Peter
Bent Brigham Hospital.
In contrast to some, I shall always be indebted to Penn.
I came from a very restricted religious background which was suspicious
and condemning of secular education. The University revived my mind and
spirit. My Penn experience continues to nourish me. If I had chosen a
profession which rewarded me with great wealth, I would certainly share
it with Penn, even though I wonder about its corporate spirit and ties.
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