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“First” mistake, Centennial-sparked memories, and more



I just read your recent article about the first female Quaker at Penn [“Alumni Voices,” January/February]. As a Penn cheerleader from 1991-1993 I had the pleasure of seeing many a Quaker attempt to thrill the crowds. But I can honestly say that none was more enthusiastic or committed than Jessica Setnick. It was only through Jessica’s perseverance that Penn was able to have its true first female Quaker, and she took this role very seriously. I think that a retraction is due in order to set the record straight on Penn’s real first female Quaker.

Amit Khera C’94



Jessica Setnick C’94 in costume.

Congratulations on a well-done and informational magazine that helps me still feel connected to Penn. Although I have thought that for a while, I am moved to finally write to you to alert you to a fact that, it seems, has been forgotten by the powers-that-be at Penn: I was the Penn Quaker mascot in the fall semester of 1992, and as far as I know, the first female Penn Quaker ever.

In the interest of accuracy, that is all you need to know. But in the interest of my pride as a past Penn Quaker, I’ll tell you the rest of the story, because my experience was very different from that of Cristina Lopez (apparently the second female Penn Quaker), who experienced many difficulties, and I’d like to set the record straight.

My only difficulty in being the Penn Quaker was becoming the Penn Quaker—convincing the cheerleading coach that the Quaker could and should be a woman, especially since I was the only volunteer for the position that semester. In fact, the football team went without a mascot for the first two games that season because the cheerleading coach was so loathe to allow a woman to participate. When the athletic department then appointed me the Quaker, I was given the old Quaker uniform and hat, and left to my own devices.

With a roll of butcher-paper and paint, I made banners to support the football team for each game and a super-size catcher’s mitt for shielding myself from toast. I made a hula hoop and some yellow posterboard into a giant key chain with giant keys, and I packed my pockets with red and blue candy. Although it was the most ambitious project of my life until that point, from the moment I was appointed Quaker, I had a blast!

My sophomore year The Daily Pennsylvanian printed a letter I wrote about the lack of school spirit at Penn compared to the University of Texas, and as the Quaker I had the chance to put my money where my mouth was. I would do anything to drum up enthusiasm and support for our teams. I rode Locust Walk in the football helmet cart. I initiated the candy-throwing tradition at football games, and I gave out oatmeal cookies at basketball games. The guys in the stands used to yell, “Hey, Quaker girl! Can I have a Quaker treat?”

Cable Channel 66 caught me on tape smooching with the head cheerleader and being “arrested” by the police. I was abducted by the Princeton cheerleaders at an away game. I was invited to Mayor Rendell’s Halloween party, where I became friends with the Temple Owl and the Villanova Wildcat. My phone number was shouted out by the stadium crowd in a practical joke that was one of life’s more embarrassing moments. And the first time I wore the new Quaker uniform, I had to borrow a belt from a friend in the stands after my pants fell down while I cheered. One of my highlights was when one of the Old Guard Penn alumni who sat in the reserved seats at football games told me I was the prettiest Quaker he had ever seen. And there was so much more.

Because I was so begrudgingly appointed Quaker, I was hell-bent to prove that anything a male Quaker could do, a female Quaker could do. I practiced stunts with the cheerleaders, and I practiced push-ups at home. In one of our games, the Penn score was so high that through sheer willpower alone I did over 100 push-ups. I practiced tumbling on the track in Franklin Field, and I ran the stadium stairs every day.

Besides the awesome honor that being the Quaker represented, it also proved something more personal for me. At the freshman picnic my first week at Penn, the cheerleaders were recruiting for the freshman cheerleading team. I had a lot of school spirit but not as much coordination, so I asked about being the mascot instead of a cheerleader. I was told, “Usually the Quaker is a guy,” and that was the end of it. I remember those words very clearly, because later I realized how much my experiences at Penn had changed me.

My freshman year that kind of an answer was acceptable to me; it didn’t even register as aberrant on the radar screen of a Southern girl coming from an all-girls high school. By my junior year, though, I was shocked that being a woman would be used as a reason to prevent me from doing anything, even something that had traditionally been done by a man.

The saddest part about being the first female Quaker—in fact the only thing that makes me sad about it today (aside from it being totally forgotten by the Penn athletic department)—is that I was relieved of my duties as Quaker because I was a woman. After one semester of Quakerdom, I was told that “the alumni” did not like having a female Quaker, although I didn’t believe that, because “the alumni” loved my Quaker treats and told me I was the prettiest Quaker they had ever seen.

I knew I was fired because they had found a man who would do the job. The cheerleading coach revealed to me that this was true when I confronted him later that year. It was the most disappointing, dreary news I ever received from Penn. The worst part was, my beloved position was stripped from me and given to someone else without anyone even telling me. I found out at the beginning of a new semester when one of my friends told me that there had been someone else in “my” uniform at an alumni football function.

I enjoyed sitting with my friends in the stands my senior year, and even though I was sometimes sad that I was no longer the Quaker for Penn, as consolation Paul Ryan hung my picture as the Quaker on the wall at Smoke’s. I still love thinking about being the Quaker, and I treasure all the photos, the mementos, and the teasing that I still get from my friends. I love that at every boring ice-breaker when they ask you to tell the group something that they would never guess about you, I can and do say, “I was my school mascot when I was in college.”

As I sit here typing on my computer, to my right is a giant toothbrush, made of a scrub brush from Marty’s and a long piece of wood, painted with the words Clean Up Colgate. And in my old closet at my mom’s house is one giant yellow key that I removed from the giant key chain before passing it on to the replacement (male) Quaker.

I am glad to set the record straight, and although I don’t begrudge Cristina Lopez her experiences or her article, I am also glad that I remember being Penn Quaker much differently. If anyone from my era wants to see the picture of the actual (to my knowledge) First Female Penn Quaker, they can flip to page 103 of the 1993 edition of Poor Richard’s Record. If they do, I hope they’ll think of the Quaker girl with as much happiness as I do.

Jessica Setnick C’94


Cristina Lopez responds:

Jessica Setnick rightly has the claim to the title of first female Quaker. I just wanted to be clear that my original intention with the article I wrote was to contact other female Quakers and write an article about their experiences, but then Penn’s athletic-communications department told me that I had been the only one, and I changed the focus of my piece to reflect that. Now, I am excited that this fellow mascot has surfaced, but saddened that my piece so completely left out her story.

Jessica’s experience was somewhat different than my own but we share this amazing bond. I hope that Penn will acknowledge her existence and honor her place in Penn’s history. It is sad that she was forgotten when her time as the Quaker was both uplifting and thrilling for her and her fans. I believe Penn has a place for both of us in its history, as well as a place for all the others to follow in our footsteps!

Thank you, Jessica.



My compliments on the excellent “A Century of the Gazette” edition [January/February 2002]. A handsome presentation. The overview was especially well done. It could not have been easy to capture the highlights of 100 years, but yours was an excellent summary of the century.

I am not aware that this episode in the University’s history was covered or even mentioned in the Gazette, for it could not have been one of the proudest moments in Penn history. Before I enrolled in 1944—probably during the 1930s until WWII—Penn had an informal quota system regarding the enrollment of Jewish students. Dartmouth’s quota was widely publicized.

At Penn, I am told, the fraternities were divided into “A” and “B” houses, gentile and Jewish. There were two inter-fraternity councils, “A” and “B”; two proms, etc. I believe the yearbook carried out this separation in photos and text—without defining the terms, of course.

Venlo Wolfsohn W’48
Bethesda, Maryland



Congratulations on your “Happy Hundredth” project as launched in the January/February issue. You asked for our suggestions for people, places, and events that would be worthy of future features [“From the Editor”].

I nominate economic geography professor Mike Dorizas. He was a colorful and beloved Wharton prof for many years, beginning soon after World War I till his death in the 1950s. I believe he was many times voted the most-liked prof, and not solely because his course was considered a “snap.” I have many memories of him during my undergraduate years, but also from earlier when he was a close friend of my aunt, Jessie W. Clifton. I recall many anecdotes and have some independent documentation of some. I also have a couple of old photos of him in his undergraduate days before WWI.

Here is a sample. Almost all Wharton freshmen took his course, which included very large lectures in the basement of Logan Hall. A feature was a slide show of photos Mike took on his annual summer trips around the world. One topic was a trip to Indonesia and Bali. He showed a photo of a group of bare-breasted Balinese women in grass skirts, with palm trees in the background. Mike roared: “Boys,”—we were all boys then—“look at those coconuts!”

Bob Clifton W’44
Wayne, Pennsylvania



After reading the letter by William E. Samuels in the January/February 2002 issue regarding U.S. immigration policy, I want to comment on two points:

First, the writer suggests that “for the duration of the crisis we must also place a complete moratorium on entry by aliens from all Islamic countries,” but he does not define the “crisis” he refers to. Assuming he refers to the terrorist threat, I must disagree.

Surely he must not be thinking that all terrorist acts committed in this country are perpetrated by aliens from Islamic countries. We need only remember Oklahoma City and the countless killings in schools, post offices, and workplaces. Despite the fact that most of these criminals are American citizens and are not likely funded by organized terrorist groups—foreign or domestic—they are “terrorists” nonetheless.

We cannot punish a whole ethnic group for the terrible actions committed by a few. If this were allowed, all white Americans should be deported because of Timothy McVeigh’s actions. And why stop at halting new immigration from Islamic countries? Why not go after American-born citizens of Arab descent, also, or naturalized citizens who came from Islamic countries?

Whatever we do, the “crisis” that I believe Mr. Samuels refers to is here to stay; therefore, we must learn to adapt and control the threat to a level that is tolerable for society to function. This includes all terrorist acts committed by people of any religious persuasion or ethnicity. A number of (developed) European countries have learned this already.

Second, the writer suggests that immigration from Third World countries should stop. He argues that “if present demographic trends continue, regular majority Americans will become a minority in their own country in one or two generations.”

This idea brings back memories of racial classifications; and we all know that ethnic cleansing is only a short ride away. Is a bad European better than a good Pakistani? Mr. Samuels surely knows that the immigrants that made this nation were not always the “cr╦me de la cr╦me” in their countries of origin.

This idea is also bad for the economy. In today’s shrinking world, the notion that it would be beneficial to stop migration is not only archaic but goes against the country’s interests. Immigration restrictions (quotas) by country are in place today, but qualified people from these countries can immigrate if demand for their skills exists. We may argue about the soundness of this policy’s details, but to target geographical origin for its own sake does not make sense.

This nation could not have become what it is today had ideas like Mr. Samuels’ been put in place.

Enrique Ram╚ Gr’88



As a three-war veteran, I offer the following truism as a geopolitical law:

A nation that is unable or unwilling to control its borders is a nation that is unable or unwilling to control terrorism.

John A. Buesseler GM’49
Lubbock, Texas



Years and years of receiving and enjoying this Penn alumni magazine, noting changes for better and worse, and always until now taking glee in tackling the Double-Crostic—and now let down by the recent puzzle-less issue and its omission of that little bit of anticipated joy. Do bring back the Double-Crostic as a regular feature and make readers such as me again relish receiving the Gazette.

Bob Weiss C’60
West Chester, Pennsylvania



The opening of the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology [“Gazetteer,” January/February] will no doubt, as President Rodin said, “advance our knowledge of the global and local causes of crime.” However, everyone knows that the first cause of crime is poverty, as I was taught in a criminology course at Penn years ago.

People who studied prison statistics in the old Soviet Union, to the extent that they were available, reported that the prisons contained very few people convicted of the types of petty economic crimes for which people fill our prisons—theft, robbery, larceny, drug dealing, etc.

This excuses none of the lack of democracy or human-rights abuses of the Soviet Union, but it does show that very low unemployment coupled with a very thorough social safety net can go a long way toward reducing some types of crime, a lesson that can be applied without distorting American democracy.

Eliot Kenin C’61
Emeryville, California



I have perused the November/December 2001 issue and offer these comments:

“September 11 & After”: Too much. Reaction O.K., but overkill. Rather than rhetoric, I would rather see more action, such as portrayed in the Desert Storm Campaign.

“The Stamp Seal Mystery”: Interesting, but I think too much and too detailed.

“School’s In”: Bravo! Well done, I think. Pictures and text complement each other, but neither are overwhelming. (In some other articles, more pictures would make the stories more attractive—unless you are trying to be like a law-review publication.)

“Harold Stassen and the Ivy League”: If I were not a product of the Stassen era, I would have been turned off by three pages of the small-type text. Only the opening two pages of the Mark Bernstein article, with the illustration, would possibly get some peoples’ attention.

William W. Watkins W’53
Annandale, Virginia

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Copyright 2002 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 2/28/02



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