Best Wishes and a Salutation

Just a few word relating to “The Rodin Years” [May/June]. It was a notable appreciation. Dr. Judith Rodin’s presidency included challenges not unfamiliar to many other big-city universities—in particular, the necessity for important educational entities to grapple with difficulties that must be handled to make academia work in the inter-urbanity of the cities in which they are nestled. Dr. Rodin made a pointed reference to this challenge when she stated, “I have no doubt that [Philadelphia], despite its problems, is one of Penn’s greatest blessings. It is central to the Penn experience—not a world apart.” She truly felt the urgency involved therein, and put her head and shoulders, so to speak, to the task, thereby lending respectful reference to much that is associated with Benjamin Franklin—a worthy personality indeed.

Best wishes to Dr. Rodin and a salutation to President-elect Amy Gutmann.

Rosario Quatrochi CCC’55 Hinsdale, Il

 

Questions on Gutmann’s Election

Perhaps it is rash to ask two questions about the choice of Professor Amy Guttman as the next president of the University of Pennsylvania [“Gazetteer,” May/June]. But anyway, here goes:

1. Does the choice of a second consecutive female to be Penn’s president endanger the legitimate interests and aspirations of male students and male professors?

2. In his new book, Who Are We? the distinguished political science scholar, Samuel P. Huntington, criticizes what he sees as “national disintegration.” He criticizes the “multiculturalism” movement which shows an active animosity to Western Civilization, and attacks those thinkers he calls “transnationals” who exhibit an antipathy to the idea of a nation. Among the latter, he specifically attacks Martha Nussbaum, saying she denounces “patriotic pride,” and also criticizes Amy Gutmann who, according to him, says that it is “repugnant” for Americans to feel that they are “above all, citizens of the United States.” My question is whether these controversial far left-wing views of Professor Guttman were well known and considered carefully before her selection as the next president of the University. After all, Penn has had a close, productive relationship for over two centuries to the democratic ideas and growth of our proud Republic.

Howard D. Greyber Gr’53 San Jose, Ca

 

In the text from which Huntington is quoting, For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism (Beacon Press, 1996), Dr. Gutmann is responding—negatively—to an essay in which Martha Nussbaum defends “cosmopolitanism,” calling on individuals to see themselves as “citizens of the world,” and attacks “democratic humanism,” a philosophy with which Gutmann is associated, as “nationalistic.” Here is the relevant passage from Gutmann’s response:

“Being empowered as a free and equal citizen of some democratic polity should be an opportunity open to all individuals. Democratic citizenship is an essential demand of justice in the world as we know it, and individuals the world over recognize it as such.

“Does this emphasis on democratic citizenship imply that students in our society should therefore ‘learn that they are, above all, citizens of the United States’ (another repugnant position that Nussbaum seems to attribute to me)? Far from being a sufficient standard for a democratic humanist education, such teaching is clearly antithetical to it. It is one thing to say that publicly subsidized schooling should teach students the rights and responsibilities of democratic citizenship (something Nussbaum never clearly recognizes) and quite another to say it should teach them that they are ‘above all, citizens of the United States.’ Our primary moral allegiance is to no community, whether it be of human beings in our world today or our society today. Our primary moral allegiance is to justice—to doing what is right.”—Ed.

 

A Contrast in Qualifications

After reviewing the biographies of Rodin and Gutmann, I could not help but wonder what the criteria were that were used by the trustees for selecting the last two Penn presidents. It was always my belief that a president of a university should possess world-class educational qualities and scholastic achievements (and not just sport a list of publications, routinely regurgitated by mediocre university educators to satisfy the unwritten rule of “publish or perish”), as well as serve as a paradigm for excellence to the faculty and student body.

There is no question in my mind that Penn has changed significantly since my time and that the emphasis has shifted from a mission of serving as an institution of higher learning for all qualified applicants, to emphasizing diversity and multiculturalism, at the expense of student-acceptance qualifications, as exemplified by Affirmative Action.

I have no question and stipulate that Rodin and Gutmann are accomplished administrators, who will support and implement the political correctness policies de jour of my alma mater. That said, I cannot help but contrast the qualifications of former Penn President Gaylord P. Harnwell and those of Rodin and Gutmann.

But, of course, that’s only my opinion—I could be wrong …

Richard Barton C’55 GEE’60 Reno, Nv

 

Encouraging, Emboldening, Naive

As an openly gay male who has lived in American’s gay capital, New York, for five years now, I was encouraged and emboldened by Andrew Martin’s essay, “The Satin Revolution” [“Alumni Voices,” May/June]. He is spot on when he decries society’s half-gestures towards sexual minorities. I agree that not having equal rights shortchanges the American promise of liberty and justice for all.

Unlike Martin, I think that last year’s backlash or knee-jerk anti-gay-marriage laws will not simply dissipate over time. I base my reasoning in the fact that the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 is the legal basis for those very recent legislative anti-gay maneuvers across the nation. Martin is naive to think that time will only lessen the mob majority’s impulse to restrict our gay civil rights.

Michael R. Unglo C’93 New York

 

Wonderful to See

Thanks for the great article by Andrew Martin. It’s wonderful to see the Gazette providing a diversity of voices and viewpoints on important issues. I believe that continues the University’s educational mission beyond the classroom.

Neil Plakcy C’79 Hollywood, Fl

 

Balanced, Honest, and True

I want to give a huge thank you to Andrew Martin for the beautiful article, “The Satin Revolution.” It was balanced, honest, and true. It is so important to give a voice and a name to the fight for same-sex marriage.

Although I am straight and married, the issue of gay marriage is one that I feel very strongly about. My marriage is the part of my life that brings me the most joy; why should that opportunity be denied to two adults just because they happen to be the same sex? It brings tears to my eyes to think that this country can deny that joy to a huge part of its population.

What many people don’t realize is that the right to marriage is not only needed for emotional recognition, it is also necessary for many legal rights. I am so lucky to have grown up and now live in an area that is leading the fight for equal rights.

I can only hope that the article was able to let other people see that gay people are the same as straight; they have the same life and love expectations and deserve the same rights. Thank you again, Mr. Martin. Congratulations, and I wish you a long happy marriage.

Amanda Johnson Ferguson C’99 Lafayette, Ca

 

Morally Disgusting

For a couple of years I have been somewhat suspect of the article content in our Gazette. I have been, at times, somewhat embarrassed at the content and topic choices. The May/June 2004 issue has actually reached the pinnacle of decadence and moral bankruptcy. The article, “The Satin Revolution,” is morally disgusting. I would be embarrassed to share the Gazette with anyone. In the community I live in, we also have magazines that are filled with articles like the above mentioned; however, we have them confined to a “blue-light” district.

The past 10 years has seen great academic strides made at Penn under the outstanding leadership of Dr. Rodin. Unfortunately, during the past 10 years and in the opposite direction and at the same accelerated rate, one has clearly seen the demise of Penn’s moral fiber. I’m very concerned about Penn students and the moral environment we are providing for them.

If the Gazette feels comfortable printing content like “The Satin Revolution” and if this type of article will be commonplace, please discontinue sending me the Gazette.

Marvin M. St. John PT’67 Pewee Valley, Ky

 

The Josephs Don’t Like Bono

Bono? Penn’s Commencement speaker? [“Gazetteer”] Incredible! Villanova was able to get Big Bird! We’re surprised and disappointed. Hope next year we can do better.

Ruth Bram Joseph CW’52
Bernard B. Joseph W’52 Philadelphia
Bruce G. Joseph C’76 W’76 Washington
Warren S. Joseph C’78 Huntingdon Valley, Pa
Larry A. Joseph W’79 Philadelphia

 

Recognize the Workers

I have been following the University’s efforts to avoid recognizing the aspirations of graduate employees to organize and collectively bargain conditions of employment. It is sad to see my university following the tactics that have become all too common in thwarting the will of workers across this country. Anyone who has been following the trend in this country can readily see that employers are using many tactics to accomplish this evasion of responsibility. For trustee chair James Riepe to aver the University is just “playing by the rules” is disingenuous at best [“Gazetteer,” May/June]. The “rules” are stacked against workers. Employers have increasingly used the “rules” to delay, discourage, intimidate, ridicule, and otherwise block the legitimate efforts of workers to assert their collective voice across this country.

It is tempting to debate the merits of any particular issues that graduate employees may raise. However, that is precisely the role of good-faith collective bargaining. For a union is nothing more, nor less, than the vehicle through which workers organize themselves to have a voice at work; a voice through which they can participate in the decisions that affect their working conditions. Surely we do not have to fall back on paternalistic views that we know best what is good for them. Let’s listen to them instead.

Paul Krissel, C’71 Salem, Or

 

Final Four—Make That Quatre—Memories

I’ve always enjoyed bringing the Gazette along for light reading on business trips. So you can imagine my surprise when I turned the page over breakfast during a business trip in France and found a very familiar picture—Coach Weinhauer at the Franklin Field pep rally—illustrating the article on the 25th anniversary of the Penn basketball team’s Final Four appearance, “We Were That Good” [“Sports,” May/June]. I think this is probably the most reprinted of my Daily Pennsylvanian photographs from my years at Penn.

To add to the irony of the moment, Bob Wachter’s essay, “The Talking Cure,” was in the same issue [“Expert Opinion”], and it is Bob who appears on the right side of the photo as the Penn Quaker from the year of the Final Four. It somehow made the world seem a little smaller, finding it in the Gazette when I was so far from home. Thank you for the memories of what was such an exciting week for those of us who lived through it.

Bruce D. Rosenblum C’81 Newton, Ma

 

Little If Any Credibility

I always thought book reviews were supposed to be at least reasonably objective. But Dennis Drabelle’s “review” of Richard Clarke’s book Against All Enemies is so obviously biased and distorted as to stamp the Gazette as being run by just another group of ultra left wing nutcases [“All Things Ornamental,” May/June].

The Gazette is clearly nothing more than just another liberal propaganda organ, just another throw-away rag with little if any credibility.

Arnold G. Regardie W’56 Los Angeles

 

Insult by Illustration

In “Two Takes on a Civil Rights Icon” [“Gazetteer,” March/April] the stereotypical caricatures of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and Penn faculty member Dr. Michael Eric Dyson that accompany the article continue the tradition of depicting many African American leaders in the media as loud-mouthed, vacuous, “gifted orators.”

Negative images are often slyly appended to articles to demean African American men. The misrepresentation of Rev. Jackson in the Gazette caricature is particularly onerous because many Americans only know Rev. Jackson through the eyes of the white media.

Dr. Dyson is newer to the Penn community, and not as well known as Rev. Jackson. Furthermore, Dr. Dyson is still seen first in America as a “Black man,” a negative connotation. The demeaning caricature reinforces that connotation and tends to sully the content of the article.

Published in The Pennsylvania Gazette, at Penn, where he is a member of the faculty, the cartoon disrespects Dr. Dyson and his brilliant academic accomplishments.

Justine J. Rector CW’70 Philadelphia

 

1969 Sit-In Should be Celebrated

Dennis Drabelle’s essay on student activism in the January/February “Alumni Voices” and the letters in response to it in subsequent issues brought back memories of a historic, unique event at Penn that too few remember.

Activist students and sympathetic faculty were bitterly protesting secret chemical-biological warfare research in which the University was involved, which had been disclosed by student detectives. They were also protesting the equally important and highly inflammatory plans of the University to take over surrounding communities displacing large numbers of minority poor from their homes to make way for the University City Science Center.

The protesters occupied College Hall for six days. The purpose was to confront the University on the issues and to develop a strategy to force a change. This was no chaotic upwelling. It was a well-disciplined, peaceable, democratic process conducted by a dedicated student leadership and a committed student body.

Led by Ira Harkavy C’70 Gr’79, now associate vice president and director of the Center for Community Partnerships at Penn, students voted down a proposal to organize a mass march on the city, a tactic certain to bring a violent response from then-Philadelphia police chief and future mayor, Frank Rizzo.

The University, guided by Rev. John A. (“Jack”) Russell, vice provost for student affairs, and a faculty committee of which I was a member, refused to allow the city police on campus to quell the uprising. Instead, the students opted to continue the sit-in to force negotiations. Thus, after six days and nights of occupation, the University agreed to negotiate and the sit-in occupation of College Hall ended with a student-inspired victory for the students, the University, and the city.

At a time when University campuses across this country were being rocked by police violence, killings, campus lock-downs, conflagrations, and intense conflicts with school authorities, Penn students conducted a totally non-violent protest free of brutality, arrests, or police action and with a minimum of hostility all around.

The great Penn sit-in of 1969 should become a source of celebration and commemoration by the University community.

Robert J. Rutman
Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine

 

Not Only the Young are “Immature”

Comments on comments have a way of sounding like an old issue of Punch, but I must respond to Howard Greyber’s letter in the May/June issue about the essay, “Power to the Students,” in the January/February issue [“Alumni Voices”]. I was at Penn at about the time of the writer, and like him volunteered to serve in WWII. Unlike him, I was an EM in the infantry rather than a Naval officer. Perhaps that affected my point of view. In any case, we disagree on a number of things.

I, too, recall “that turbulent time” of the 1960s and “the violence initiated by immature, ignorant” people, but I am thinking of the people who commanded the troops at Kent State. We disagree about the Vietnam War; I agree with Dwight Eisenhower that it was unwinnable. Morality? Sending men to die in an unwinnable war seems to me unquestionably wrong; we are not (I hope) a nation of suicide bombers.

Finally, Mr. Greyber expresses contempt for those who, “cowardly avoided the draft, like William Clinton and Howard Dean.” I would respect his opinions more had he lengthened his list to include Cheney, Hastert, DeLay, Gingrich, all of whom obtained deferments and none of whom volunteered. None of whom, so far as I have ever read, expressed themselves as opposed to the war or to the draft; they just opted out. Clinton at least had the guts to express his opinions and explain himself. The present war is certainly the first in the past hundred years or more, perhaps in our history, to be conceived and led by a group of men, none of whom has served in their country’s armed services (except for a chief executive whose military service was questionable and was interrupted by political campaigning).

The “mobs of students acting in collective ignorant fury” hardly seem to be the real culprits in the ills that afflict us. Perhaps the enemy in our midst is not the immature thinking of aroused students, but the closed minds of their seniors.

Nathaniel N. Boonin C’48 M’52 Newark, De

 

Corrections

In the May/June “Letters” section, an editing error changed the name of the U.S. forces in World War I to the Allied Expeditionary Force. The American Expeditionary Force is correct.

And in our story in “All Things Ornamental” noting an award given to Paul Hendrickson’s book, Sons of Mississippi, we should have written the University of Mississippi rather than Mississippi State University in referring to the school desegregated by James Meredith.


2004 The Pennsylvania Gazette
Last modified 07/01/04


Picking presidents, marriage and morals.

July|Aug Contents
Gazette Home
Previous issue's column