Its one thing to be in the Ivy League, the BAM quotes President Gee as saying (The Payoff, Under the Elms, March/April); its another to be of the Ivy League. Ive always regarded Browns quixotic standing in the Ivy League as something positive. Brown is the one with the unorthodox curriculum, the one that resides in a state founded by pariahs and free thinkers, and the one that sets the standard for student activism.
When hundreds of students occupied University Hall demanding more financial aid in April 1992, the story made the New York Times, but it did not by itself catalyze a University-wide effort to make Brown blind to applicants financial standing when applying for admission. Its too bad that the administrations recent, long-overdue expansion of financial aid comes in reaction to similar moves by other Ivies. And it is worse that Brown is not yet firmly committing itself to becoming a need-blind institution.
That the other Ivies are getting all the smart and talented kids is a worthy reason for spending more on financial aid, I suppose. But I have to believe that the real reason to dedicate more money to financial aid, and ultimately to become a need-blind university, is not because of some Ivy League insecurity complex, but because its extremely important to Brown students, alumni, and faculty. Just ask those alumni who got arrested in 1992. Better yet, ask any alumnus who is paying off college loans now.
Marc Vogl '95
President Gees recent commitment to increasing the grant portion of student aid packages revealed what we have long suspected: that Brown can accomplish great things quickly. When President Gee learned last year that Brown was losing students to other Ivies due to its loan-heavy financial-aid packages, it took him less than a year to announce a $5 million spending increase. Unfortunately, this announcement did not include a commitment to achieve need-blind admission. In our four years at Brown, we demanded prioritization of financial aid through petitions, letter-writing campaigns, silent protests, marches, and a building occupation at which we were arrested along with 241 other Brown students. Our efforts were met with the administrations constant refrain: need-blind admission is a nice goal for the future, but an impractical one for the present.
As a private educational institution steeped in a tradition of advocating for social change and progressive education, Brown needs to direct its will and commitment toward a system of admission that does not discriminate against any applicant based on family income. We hope President Gee will stop dismissing need-blind admission as a phase two goal and recognize its appropriate place as an immediate priority.
Cassy Stubbs '95
I was pleased to read that Brown has announced a $5 million financial-aid spending increase over four years. A drop in the bucket, to be sure, but one that will provide a small measure of debt relief for many students over the next four years.
It is unfortunate, however, that, according to the article, Brown reacted to the financial-aid crisis only when confronted with a menacing threat: Brown was facing a potential competitive disadvantage. It would be nice if Brown, with its billion-dollar-plus endowment, could recognize on its own, without Princetons or Columbias help, that financial aid should be a top priority and that Brown should not be evaluating financial need when making admission decisions.
Ty Alper '95
In 1992, I was one of the hundreds of students who took over University Hall to urge the Brown administration to institute need-blind admission. It saddens me to read that, seven years later, the administration is finally making financial aid a priority solely because other schools are doing so and Brown faces losing top students.
When I was at Brown, I was a phone-a-thon caller for the Brown Annual Fund. Overwhelmingly, the alumni who specified beneficiaries for their donations requested financial aid and minority scholarships. Increasing financial aid and instituting a need-blind admission policy should be top priorities in next years budget.
Lisa Lepson '95
As Chad Galtss article pointed out, when other top schools offer more aid to prospective students, the quality of Browns student body suffers. The students Brown has lost for want of aid money have managed to gain admission into more than one Ivy League school without the advantages of a flush family. They have demonstrated unusual intelligence and industry, and many are from minority communities. Brown needs more such students.
When students took over University Hall to demand a need-blind admission policy during my freshman year, Brown claimed it was doing everything it could to increase spending on financial aid. If it is now possible to increase the aid pool by reallocating funds and stepping up fund-raising, why was that not possible ten years ago? And how do we know Brown couldnt do more now? Five million dollars is a worthy increase but it will take around ten times that to ensure that no student is turned away from Brown just because her family cant afford the tuition.
Gabriel Roth '95
At a time when the hottest issue in higher education is how to achieve a balance between academic standards and socioeconomic diversity as in the debate over affirmative action Brown ironically adheres to a financial-aid policy that undermines both academic quality and diversity. Any step toward need-blind status is laudable, but some sort of formal statement of an actual intention to achieve that status, accompanied by a timetable and strategy for doing so, would show that Brown is genuinely committed to financial aid and is not merely scrambling to keep up with its better-endowed Ivy brethren.
Kevin Shay '95
When will Brown be need-blind? It is still a fact that an applicant who checks yes on the financial-aid box will not have the same chance of being accepted as another applicant with similar academic qualifications and more money. Lets make achieving need-blind admission a priority.
McKaile Alper '95
It is the pride and esteem in which I hold Brown that compels me to call for a firm commitment to achieving a need-blind admission policy. Anything less is beneath the ideals of quality and diversity that Brown strives to embody.
Daniel Lerman '96
There is something about Browns lack of need-blind admissions that really bothers me. I guess its the hypocrisy of it all. We preach diversity, and yet we continue to exclude applicants because theyre not as wealthy as others. In my mind, thats just plain wrong. Lets make a real commitment to funding need-blind admission!
Daniel Alper '63
While I was an undergraduate at Brown, I heard many stirring speeches given by President Vartan Gregorian concerning the wonders of diversity. Unlike Brown, however, talk is cheap. Admission Director Michael Goldberger concedes that over the last decade Brown has required its students to pick up more of the cost of attending college than any other Ivy. In other words, during the same decade in which the income gap in this nation exploded, Browns admission and financial-aid policies only made it more difficult for students from low-income families to receive a Brown education.
We need to achieve a need-blind admission policy as quickly as possible. Rather than trying halfheartedly to avoid being the most regressive Ivy, let us with fervor turn Browns resources toward becoming a moral leader.
Pierre Stroud '95
The Corporations decision to increase financial-aid spending by $5 million over the next four years is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done. At present, the realization of a more socioeconomically diverse on-campus community is not a priority of the administration. Brown is only devoting as much money to financial aid as is needed to stay competitive with the handful of colleges and universities that have revised their financial-aid policies over the past year-and-a-half.
We urge Brown to increase aid further and to move more rapidly toward need-blind admissions. We also urge alumni donors to direct their giving toward financial aid, which will not become a top University priority until alumni donors start supporting it with more of their dollars.
Eric Neutuch '99
Even though the results described in The Prescription Paradox (March/ April) have come under fire, they did not surprise me. For several months in 1994, I oversaw the nursing-home care of my terminally ill mother. Because Medicare would pay for only one monthly visit, thats all she got from her assigned doctor, even when she was dying. It might be valuable to correlate the statistics from the survey the article describes with the frequency of visitation to nursing-home residents by their doctors.
It was my impression that many decisions, including ones relating to medication, were made by the overburdened nursing staff of my mothers nursing home, who seemed to be in telephone contact with her doctor. (I do not recall ever seeing the doctor there, even though I visited the nursing home daily.) On the occasions when I felt my mother needed to see a doctor, I was advised to either take her myself to the doctors office, which was difficult because she was bedridden, or call an ambulance for her to be examined at the emergency room of one of the local hospitals, which took many hours and was extremely costly.
Frances Van Keuren '73
During the fall of '1990, I was given a four-inch-diameter mollusk to work on in his invertebrate zoology lab. Jessica Stevens '94 was given a tiny periwinkle snail. She must have seen the look on my face, because she leaned over and offered to trade dissections with me.
Eight years later and coming up on our second wedding anniversary, I can only imagine what would have hap-pened had either of us decided not to study biology.
Stephen Pollard '94
The special supplement from the Office of Development, Recognizing Philanthropy to Brown University (March/April), describes Henry Merritt Wriston Associates as taking renewed pride in their University and seeking to guide Brown as a leading institution in teaching, scholarship and research. This pride is then defined as a mone-tary contribution to the University.
In fairness, you should list those individuals who express their pride and appreciation through contributions of time and talent contributions just as valuable and just as deserving of public recognition.
Your review of a parenting book for parents of color tells us that racism...runs rampant in our society (Mommy, What Is Racism? Books, March/April). Your reviewer then gives two examples: A white child thinks a black childs lips are ugly. A black kid asks his father why his hair doesnt blow in the wind like the white kids hair.
Certainly the first case could well be a case of racism. But why use the way the wind blows through hair as a sign of racism? Thats just a kid noticing that another kid has wispy hair. Whats next blame Heather Locklear for her wispy blond locks? Blame bigotry for the lack of Latino skiers? Weve got to get past this endless blaming.
People with personal issues will perceive any action or media image as proof of oppression. It becomes a conditioned response. Yet isnt that mind-set another form of racism? Personally, I dont believe that kind of attitude is the right model for a book on parenting.
Tim Truby '73
I was deeply saddened to read of (Professor) Rod Chisholms death (Obituaries, March/April). He was far and away the most inspiring teacher I ever had. But more than that, he was one of the finest human beings I ever knew.
David Thomasson '91 Ph.D.
Prisoners, Beware (Under the Elms, March/April) seems to give the mistaken impression that the hepatitis C virus (HCV) can be effectively controlled with a protocol of interferon and ribavirin. Unfortunately, thats not completely accurate. The treatment seems to reduce viral counts to an undetectable level in some people, and for others it seems to control the progression of the virus. For still others, it doesnt work at all. The protocol is still too new for anyone to be certain how long the drugs are effective, and the side effects can be devastating, so devastating that many patients choose to stop taking the drugs.
The HCV epidemic is all too real, and even though pharmaceutical companies would like us to believe that a solution has been found, the facts are much more complex and troubling.
Craig Hazen '72
We are writing about the pull quote used under the photograph of Bill Gilbane '99 in Men, Women, and Money (In Class, January/February). As friends of Gilbane for the past four years, we were dismayed to see him misrepresented. By taking his words out of context, the quote alludes to an opinion that we know Bill does not hold. He was, in fact, referring to the main character in Madame Bovary and not to women in general. We hope the BAM will be more careful in choosing future pull-quotes.
Alexandra Meckel '98
The BAM trivializes student demands for a strong code of conduct for Brown-licensed apparel and quotes an anonymous student who calls the debate ridiculous (Sweatshop Followup, Under the Elms, March/April). There is nothing ridiculous about fighting to improve conditions for young workers, most of them women, who routinely work twelve-hour days, six days a week, in Third World sweatshops making the apparel that bears the Brown logo.
The very companies that profit from sweatshop labor are endorsing codes of conduct to get public-relations cover after damaging exposs of exploitation in their factories. The students have demanded codes that help workers, not just corporations looking to burnish their image. Disclosure of factory locations will allow worker advocates and human-rights groups to verify conditions and help workers exercise the rights the codes claim to protect. Living wage is a critical demand in countries where the minimum wage is set below subsistence level in order to attract foreign capital.
The students are asking their universities to use their leverage to advance the rights of the most vulnerable workers in the global economy. As Brown alumni who work with UNITE, the apparel and textile union, we are inspired by their persistence and courage.
Susan Cowell '69
As one of the captains of the womens track-and-field team, I am very disappointed that you have failed to mention the accomplishments of womens track and field. In February, Brown won the indoor Heptagonal championship, soundly defeating all other Ivies as well as Navy. In May, we won the outdoor Heptagonal championship for the fifth time in the past seven years.
A team track-and-field title is not possible without a total team effort. Our team, a combination of seasoned veterans and very talented freshmen, consisted of fifty extremely talented and hard-working women, several of whom set new personal records. Furthermore, the coaching staff, led by Head Coach Bob Rothenberg '65, was named Womens Heptagonal Staff of the Year for the indoor season. These accomplishments deserve recognition in your brief sports summary.
I took a long, careful look at the Sayles Hall photo (The Classes, March/April). At first glance I figured no one dressed like this for exams after World War II. However, several faces that were similar to classmates of mine seemed to appear. And then, under the second presidential painting from the left, I thought the pensive guy underneath might be me. Any thoughts from fellow classmates or others would be appreciated, as I am not completely confident of this analysis.
Donald L. Kent '68
In last months issue there was a photograph of students taking final exams. My husband, David B. Martin '52 located himself right away. Hes in the center wearing a tweed jacket and crossing his legs. He said the picture must have been taken in '1948, when he was a freshman. He was interested to know if others had inquired about it.
David, my husband of forty-three years, passed away on May '28 of this year, just two days before our anniversary. The children and I are making up a memory book and would appreciate anything you could send us.
Katherine D. Martin
On Sunday afternoon of Commencement and Reunion Weekend, I walked from campus to downtown Providence on a path that took me past the First Baptist Meeting House. Inside, the black-robed seniors were seated in their pews, and I could hear the voice of Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume delivering the baccalaureate address. One of the phrases that drifted through the open doors and windows went something like this: War is caused, at root, by division and difference. I wondered if this was more tautological than insightful, but I didnt get to hear any more because I continued down the hill to the alumni Waterfront Festival. Nonetheless, as I walked downtown, I thought how Humes beautiful Irish voice speaking of peace from the pulpit of the Meeting House might have been recapitulating the first sermons delivered there in the late '1700s, when the building was new.
Although Roger Williams fled religious persecution in Massachusetts, his ministry did not begin with the attitude of tolerance for which he is famous. But this attitude of tolerance did eventually emerge and evolve within Roger Williams and the colony that he founded. It seems fitting that John Hume would come from Northern Ireland to Rhode Island to speak of tolerance, agreement, and healing to students who might leave Brown as ambassadors of such a philosophy.
I am shocked and outraged. With a few other diehard Brown hockey fans, I made the journey to Meehan Auditorium in February for the Brown-Yale game. Our goal: to see Brown triumphant and Yale disgraced. Our expectation: to be led in cheer and frivolity by the fine, rollicking strains of the Brown Band. Our hearts: ever true to Brown.
Alas, some wicked goblin has invaded the speaker system at Meehan. During every brief interlude in the game historically an opportunity for the band to strut its stuff a recording of some ancient tune by Queen or the Go Gos was played at a deafening level. Any attempt by the band to jeer the referees with a good-natured rendition of Three Blind Mice or to celebrate a crushing, full-body check with the theme to The Godfather was drowned out by the flat, horrid pop music of the mid-1980s.
To the director of athletic facilities, I ask: Wherefore this mysterious and distasteful disrespect for student music and merrymaking? Why silence the band? It makes me want to take to the Green and chant: Hey, hey, ho, ho, George Michaels got to go!