Fall 2011

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Northwestern welcomes signed letters of 250 words or less from readers. We reserve the right to edit all letters. Please send correspondence to the

Editor
Northwestern
1800 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208-1800
Fax: 847-491-3040
E-mail: letters@northwestern.edu

Summer coverSuper Seniors — and Terrific Magazine
Northwestern is one of the finest magazines out there! I love the format and the content, and the photographs are always outstanding. I especially enjoyed “Senior Watch” in the summer 2011 issue. You are correct — these are amazing students.
Mary Jo Deysach (WCAS68)
Evanston

It is difficult to capture the spirit of a place on paper, but somehow you always manage to do just that. You educate, entertain and energize through your beautiful articles and photographs. You never fail to inspire me.
Once again, I thank you for an extraordinary magazine reflecting an extraordinary university.
Mary Ellen Porrazzo (GJ75)
Hicksville, N.Y.

Senior Watch’ Missed One
When you were choosing amazing seniors to feature, did it occur to anyone to ask precisely how many women in the history of the National Debate Tournament had ever won top speaker prior to Ms. Stephanie Spies? You might have gotten an interesting answer, if you’d done more than send the usual perfunctory staff photographer. Seriously, just how many national championships will the debate team have to win before you people think they’ve earned more than a cutline ["Inarguably No.1," Student Scene, Campus Life, summer 2011]? But please, by all means, do keep calling all the debate alums for contributions.
Cori E. Dauber (C82, GC90)
Durham, N.C.

Gary Saul Morson
It was a joy to have my fond memories of Professor Gary Saul Morson rekindled as I read Elizabeth Canning Blackwell’s “Russian Lit — Live” [summer 2011]. Though I ultimately graduated from the Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences program and the School of Education and Social Policy, my mind was never more captivated and my spirit never more moved as an undergraduate than during Professor Morson’s Russian lit class. Fourteen years later I can still recall his quotes, impressions and expressions as if I’d just had class yesterday.
As Alyosha says in The Brothers Karamazov, “You must know that there is nothing higher, or stronger, or sounder, or more useful afterwards in life, than some good memory … .”
Jesse Purewal (SESP99)
Chicago 

I wish I’d been able to sit in on Professor Morson’s classes the way I did Bergen Evans’ yearlong course in world literature for nonhumanities majors in the late 1960s. The two would seem to share a guiding interest: the intellectual and spiritual stimulation of undergraduates.
Evans loved to argue about the existence or nonexistence of a deity with anyone who knew anything about theology. Though a professed agnostic, he lamented once to me and a Catholic friend that fewer and fewer students knew enough theology to engage in interesting discussions on the subject.
Evans would not teach the class on Dostoevsky, but he felt it important that students read him, so his assistant taught The Brothers Karamazov.
Were he still with us, I wager that Evans would be cheering Professor Morson on.
Barbara Lamb (Bentley) (G69)
Baltimore

More on Professor J. Michael Bailey
I was amazed and somewhat amused when I heard about the human sexuality class with the “live sex” feature. My initial reaction: Wow, why didn’t they have classes like this when I was a student?
Let’s put this in perspective: A psych professor’s poor judgment turns into a brief media event. I had forgotten all about the incident until I read the huffy letters [Mailbox, summer 2011] in your magazine. And I’m certainly not embarrassed to tell people I’m a graduate of Northwestern.
Dave Hurst (J65)
Baltimore

I was surprised and disappointed to see two letters lambasting, but none in support of, Professor Michael Bailey. I’m not sure which is more offensive, that people (and educated, Northwestern alums, at that!) would seek to limit the freedom to teach and learn about a real, and not uncommon, phenomenon, or that they would presume to judge what kind of sexual relations are “appropriate” between consenting adults.
Given that we do not all partake in this lifestyle, and may therefore be unfamiliar with it (as I believe was the reason for the demonstration — that the practitioners felt a video presentation portrayed their lifestyle inaccurately), this seems eminently appropriate for … a sex education class. Isn’t this exactly the sort of material the students ought to learn about?
Northwestern is too excellent of an institution to limit the education of, and exploration by, its students for purely puritanical reasons. This professor deserves credit for introducing provocative new material.
Melissa Mendez (G10)
Philadelphia

Campus Life
I just read the short brief “Stressed Out” [Our World, Campus Life, summer 2011]. Wow! I felt depressed as a Northwestern grad student. I, too, was unsure of my future. In some ways I am still unhappy and unsure.
But I think there are answers. For one, I feel that all students should get involved in helping other students. By sharing ideas and helping other students to sustain their interest, we immediately make ourselves useful and important. We can compete less and cooperate more.
There is a Yiddish saying: Everyone thinks others are happy. In truth, we all struggle. We fail and we succeed. Our moods and our motivations go up and down. Each student can reach out to other students and try to lift them up, even if they do not reciprocate.
Harry S. Pearle (GMcC71)
Rochester, N.Y.

Asbury Hall
I read with great interest a letter by Ed Nanas describing Asbury Hall [Mailbox, summer 2011] in the early ’50s as the only integrated dorm and the value in that. I arrived at Asbury a few years later, and all he stated was certainly correct. However, Asbury also represented a great irony.
Most of us were there because we had little or no money. We were on scholarship, part of NROTC, or minority or foreign students. I was on scholarship, with no money at that time, and a bit let down when placed there. It was not the classy place of the newer men’s dorms on north campus, it had no fraternity members, and it was certainly a bit run down — although it did have a great parking lot for anyone who could afford a car. I was also in a triple room and felt a bit crowded.
Those feelings began to change as I realized I was close to downtown and very close to the major part of campus life, and directly across the street from Willard Hall, where I had a board job for four years — even if I was looked down upon by snobby pledge girls.
Other realizations came. As a kid from Kentucky I could have a conversation about politics with a student from Panama who planned to return home. The same applied to all residents — we had great, incisive conversations.
We turned out Phi Beta Kappas, Fulbrights, naval officers, future managers of radio and TV stations, many professors, band directors, writers, journalists, a Congress member (Rep. Dick Gephardt [C62, H92] was there his first two years before moving on to the Beta house) and a theater director. Not bad for a place that had maybe 50 residents.
My proudest moment as a resident came during my senior year when we got the idea to sponsor what we called a “fireside.” The idea was to get a leading professor to come on a Sunday evening and speak on a favorite or requested topic and answer questions. We had, for example, Eliseo Vivas from philosophy or Richard Ellman from English. The first meeting had maybe 10 or 15 people in the lounge. By the end of the year we were packed — no seats available, people on the floor and out the door. The professors always stayed longer than anticipated and often remarked about how much they enjoyed the exchanges.
This was Asbury at that time.
So what is the irony? We were about 15 years ahead of time. What happened later in terms of independence, counter culture, intellectual exploration and tolerance were our everyday lives. We were hip and did not know it. I am glad that the rest of Northwestern caught up.
A. Kent Gravett (C60)
Claremont, Calif.