The Stigma of Depression
I encountered firsthand evidence of the social stigma facing people with depression while reading "The Life and Death of Rick Schomp" (May/June). A stranger in a crowded subway station leaned over to look at the article and said, "How funny, we were just talking about depression. I was depressed for twelve years, and then I just woke up and decided I didn’t want to be depressed anymore. I pulled out of it." I answered that, unfortunately, most people cannot simply pull out of it. "Well, more should try," he responded, turning away.
The misconception that many people with depression are self-indulgent or emotionally lazy is only one of many reasons that even the desperate may not seek treatment. Another is apprehension that their disease will become a matter of public record, jeopardizing not only their health insurance, as Rick Schomp feared, but also their livelihoods. For example, many states ask applicants to the bar to describe psychological problems or treatment they have had, and even to supply their psychologist’s or psychiatrist’s records. Applicants who refuse to answer are not admitted to the bar and cannot practice law.
Your article concluded that the effect therapy and medication can have on the number of suicides is an open question, but it is certain that as long as depression continues to be stigmatized and its treatment continues to carry significant social, financial, and professional risks, that number will not decrease. As one step toward reducing these risks, we should call on bar review boards and any other professional organizations that engage in similar practices not to require information about applicants’ psychiatric histories. Psychiatric treatment is medical treatment and is no more appropriate for professional organizations to investigate than is an applicant’s history of cancer or any other medical condition.
Piper Hoffman ’94
Takoma Park, Md.
Bravo to Chad Galts and the BAM for a most thoughtfully and sensitively done portrayal of clinical depression. I have had two serious bouts myself, but thanks to family support and top-notch treatment, have learned how to live with depression. Unfortunately, many never learn. Here’s hoping your story encourages more people to seek treatment.
Peter Perl ’72
Silver Spring, Md.
I wish to clarify a remark about the romance of suicide attributed to me in "The Life and Death of Rich Schomp." While I was in college during the 1960s, my freshman schedule included a course in fiction writing. A classmate contributed short stories about his alter ego, a nihilist who contemplated suicide on the grounds that life was absurd. The following year, this classmate hung himself. Thoughts of suicide were alien to me, and despite having been exposed to instances in which this young man behaved erratically, I assumed naively that he had killed himself on philosophical grounds. Later I learned that the young man had been depressed and withdrawing from heroin when he’d taken his life – information that made me come to terms with the event in a quite different way. My remark about the romance of suicide was made in the context of recounting this vignette, which was not included in the article.
Peter D. Kramer
Justice – Or Ideology?
"The Justice Factor" (Elms, May/June) does not do the Ebony Thompson case justice. That case is not only about race. It is also about gender. The administration’s misbehavior demonstrates anew that Brown is not a gender-neutral institution: not in its curriculum, its student-support services, its housing programs, or its double standards of conduct.
Vice President of Campus Life and Student Services Janina Montero’s remarks pitting white students against "students of color" (a euphemism in this case) are only the latest insult to all undergraduates who think for themselves and silently refuse to buy into the administration’s race profiling. At the same time, her words reinforce the race walls erected by longstanding administration programs to appease those it has tagged as victims of color, just as the inanities of Sarah Doyle Women’s Center Director Margaret Klawunn and other feminist zealots during the Adam Lack case reinforced the gender walls erected by the Office of Student Life.
The administration has much to explain. President Blumstein’s coded remarks that she would not tolerate "violence or threats of violence" do not apparently apply universally. Although she would not tolerate the men’s reported violence, she managed to tolerate Thompson’s reported violence, as well as Thompson’s threats to kill Adam Santee ’03 (reported independently by three witnesses). Montero’s cherished "conversations" cannot take place in a toxic environment that establishes different rules for men and women.
Dean of Student Life Robin Rose’s behavior in the case has been appalling. Her apologies for "misperceiv[ing] how seriously [Thompson] was feeling" were gender- and race-based pandering; although she also misperceived how seriously the three accused men were feeling, she had no apologies for them. Worse, after recusing herself from the case because she had become "personally involved," she reinserted herself into it without explanation when two courageous female undergraduates filed a complaint against Thompson for multiple breaches of the code of conduct. Rose, her impartiality somehow restored, took it upon herself to reject their complaint, refusing to apply to the (black) woman the rules she had assiduously applied to the (white) men. And with that charade, the administration attempted to close the books on the Thompson case.
For years now, Brown administrations have dedicated far more energy to covering up the massive incompetence of the Office of Student Life than to investigating the havoc it has wreaked, and the Brown Corporation has accepted their bland assurances that, aside from a hothead here or a rapist there, all is well. The inattention of the Corporation fellows and trustees is causing untold damage. I beg them to wake up.
The writer is an associate professor of music.
With respect to the Ebony Thompson incident, Janina Montero’s distinction between students who "see these things as isolated incidents" and those who "see them as one more incident [in a pattern]" disturbs me as an American, as a teacher of Brown students, and as a parent. When "these things" are actions that carry a criminal penalty, common decency and the law require not an analysis of cultural history but proof that a specific individual committed a punishable act. Patterns are relevant only if they involve earlier acts of the same kind by the same perpetrator. And guilt is by definition unprovable in cases where the very occurrence of a punishable act remains in doubt, as in Thompson’s case, where Brown gave only grudging attention to the accused men’s accounts, and where substantial independent evidence points to a version of events more like theirs than like hers.
Recently I saw both Thompson ’00 and Bradley Groover ’02, the expelled student, in a corridor at the Providence courthouse, where they were undergoing prosecution on assault charges brought by Thompson. [The parties have since negotiated a civil settlement.] Thompson whistled as she walked and gave her friend a high-five, while Groover had a stricken look that recalled Adam Lack’s as he wandered the Brown campus in despair and isolation. Both men’s faces brought home to me how important it is for us adults to proceed with extraordinary care before we devastate a young life.
The relevant pattern here involves cowardly acts by recent Brown administrations. Going back at least as far as Brown’s timid response a decade ago to an anonymous list of alleged rapists on a bathroom wall, this pattern encompasses a refusal to insulate due process from political pressure as well as a willingness to sacrifice young men to a mob. As the mother of a daughter and son who attended college elsewhere, I warn other parents that a double standard in the treatment of young men and women pervades student life at Brown.
Rose Rosengard Subotnik
The writer is a professor of music.
Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Janina Montero replies: I appreciate the concern Professor Subotnik and Professor Josephson express regarding the recent University disciplinary case. The actual case had many complex aspects to it, and, as a result, the isolated arguments presented in the press, or among individual observers not involved in the case, or in the public at large, cannot do justice to the situation or to the participants involved.
Both Subotnik and Josephson express the view that the University Disciplinary Council based its decisions not on the evidence presented, but on the fact that Thompson is a black female. They accuse the Council and the University, therefore, of exhibiting both race and gender bias. These are very damaging statements, especially since the University in all its processes takes great pains to ensure the absense of such bias.
Due to federal law that protects the privacy of students, it is impossible for the University to respond to certain accusations, because it would require the release of specific details and information. For example, the University is not able to respond to questions that would require disclosure of students’ academic or disciplinary records. Nevertheless, I will try to address a few specific issues raised in these letters.
On the matter of Dean of Student Life Robin Rose’s recusal, this was a decision she made because in this case – more than any other during her eight-and-a-half-year tenure as dean of student life – she had been drawn into a very visible campus discussion. She therefore recused herself to avoid any perception of partiality in the ruling process.
Regarding flaws in the disciplinary system itself, on March 7 the Brown Daily Herald published an advertisement from the Office of Student Life in which Dean Rose outlined details of the process. She stated: "Our system does not begin with law and criminality – that is a matter for the courts – but rather with the University’s own expectations for student behavior. These expectations were not handed down by administrators; they were developed by the Brown community and approved by the Corporation. They are expressions of what we require of ourselves as well as others. Our disciplinary system seeks to uphold the standards of community behavior and to educate all of our students regarding acceptable norms."
During the weeks following the February incident, many members of the Office of Student Life conducted campus-wide outreach, meeting with students to discuss the complex issues raised by the case as well as the University’s response. Faculty, deans, and center directors had frank and honest conversations with many students, but we realize this was only a beginning and not an end in our process of thinking about the quality of life on campus for our students or our discipline process. In fact, we are currently planning a climate-assessment study to gain additional insights so that we can make informed recommendations and decisions.
Finally, I am dismayed by Professor Josephson’s personal attack on Dean Rose and his harsh words for the Office of Student Life; I would like to point out that under Dean Rose’s compassionate and capable leadership, the Office of Student Life has ably led the University in many key areas, including diversity, disability support, gender issues, health education, and crisis intervention. While there is no doubt that everybody’s work can be improved in some ways, it is also clear that Brown owes Dean Rose a large debt of gratitude for her service.
I am sure that in the months to come there will be many opportunities to engage in thoughtful and open discussion of these matters, and I welcome the involvement of all members of the Brown community.
A friend called the other day all excited about her son’s acceptance at Brown and his decision to attend this fall. Would I be willing to sit with him and talk about my days and experiences at Brown? (I have been doing alumni interviews for years.)
So Cole and I met, and I rambled on about the school, the students, the environment, and on and on. But when I reflected on my experiences with Dean Hazeltine, Cole was really interested in how I spoke of one of my professors. Out came my yearbooks, and of course Dean Hazeltine was pictured and mentioned in each one.
In the mail the next day was the May/June BAM with "Hazeltine’s Way." A copy was immediately delivered to Cole and his mother.
Not the end of the story. I remember returning to Brown for a hockey game with my two sons, then 10 and 9 years old. As we were walking around the rink, I saw Dean Hazeltine, and I really wanted my sons to meet him. I introduced him as the best teacher I’d ever had. Dean Hazeltine actually appeared a little choked up. As we walked away, one of my sons looked at me and said, "Dad, he remembered you." I said, "He remembers all his students."
I thoroughly enjoyed the BAM article on Dean Hazeltine – he really is what Brown is all about. By the way, Dean, my radio still works!
Bob Devaney ’69
South Burlington, Vt.
Bring Back ROTC
As a twenty-six-year Marine Corps veteran who experienced ground combat during the Vietnam war, I was delighted to see "A Modest Proposal" (May/ June). After reading Steve Cohen’s article, however, I must flatly say he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
I agree wholeheartedly that a dialogue between the Ivy League and the military is overdue and that ROTC should once again be a choice available to our best and brightest. All of the ROTC programs were unceremoniously booted out of Ivy League campuses under the pretense that their course content failed to have sufficient academic rigor. But does anyone on those campuses really understand what it takes to command a nuclear submarine, fly a billion-dollar aircraft, or command a rifle company? Do Ivy League students understand how they are deprived of real chances to learn what leadership, privation, and sacrifice are all about? I attended Brown only because of a Navy ROTC scholarship. I’m very proud to have graduated from Brown and served in the Marines. But those of us who have served on active duty and seen combat have no honor or respect from our classmates. We’re considered stupid not to have avoided service during Vietnam.
Yes, we should start up a dialogue. But fellows like Cohen need to come to terms with the basic mission of the military. It is to kill people and blow things up. It is not a nice business. It serves to remind our enemies that we can and will put them in a world of hurt if their behavior offends our vital interests. Yes, I think it is vital that our senior military ranks be generously laced with Ivy League graduates, but the schools that hold themselves in such high regard must come to terms with their own arrogance, pride, and shame.
John Adinolfi ’65
The Larger Remedy
Your article "Wasted No More" (Elms, May/June) appropriately highlights the superb work of Brown’s REMEDY program in collecting and donating medical supplies to developing countries. However, the article fails to mention that REMEDY is a national program representing more than seventy such ventures at medical schools and centers all over the country. The program was begun at Yale Medical School under the leadership of William Rosenblatt, and has blossomed into many independent chapters modeled on Yale’s strategies.
As a Brown alumna and the current leader of a REMEDY chapter at Cornell Medical School/New York Hospital, I want to make medical alumni aware that REMEDY chapters are likely operating in their vicinities, or can be easily started. The work is tremendously important and rewarding. For more information, please see www.remedyinc.org; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or call (203) 737-5356.
Lisa A. Mills ’97
New York City
Sergei Khrushchev’s lack of understanding of the significance of U.S. citizenship, or the irony in his acquiring it, is obvious to all but to him ("Citizen Khrushchev," March/April). His stated reason for acquiring citizenship – "my understanding of the life here is that if you want to live in this country, you have to be a citizen" – is insufficient to warrant getting it. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of legal foreign residents make the United States their home for professional reasons, without seeking citizenship. Foreign residents, in fact, can work and purchase property in the United States without becoming citizens. The decision to become United States citizens should be based on a conscious decision to aspire to the principles stated in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, as well as on the willingness to defend these principles. Short of that, it is preferable, in my view, to remain a legal alien.
Khrushchev’s ability to effortlessly move on from the wreckage of the Cold War is the result of his breeding as a member of the privileged communist elite. Most of the rest of us, whose families were not members of the nomenklatura, were denied in advance the possibility of ever attending a higher-education institution, and many families risked all to escape to the West to seek educational opportunities. Those who did not escape, like many of my childhood friends, lived circumscribed, frustrated lives, their ideals crushed and their ethics deformed. Yes, it is very hard for those still mired in the toxic waste of many years of totalitarian rule to move on.
I am very grateful that Nikita Khrushchev’s Czechoslovak minions in 1963 informed my parents that I would never be allowed to study because my mother and father did not believe in their "workers’ paradise." This prompted them to defect to the West, where I gained access to educational opportunities on merit alone. I am happy for Khrushchev junior that he is able to live and work in the United States. Even though he does not seem to attach much significance to becoming a U.S. citizen, I am sure it will eventually grow on him. For the rest of us, the symbolism is delicious enough.
Josef Machac ’75, ’78 M.D.
New York City
More On Gee
Whether you are the president of a university or an instructor in one of its departments, whether you are a CEO of a for-profit corporation or an employee of one, longevity at an institution in good times and bad is true loyalty.
As a cancer specialist treating patients who often have a survival horizon of five years, I believe that recruitment and employment at the University or its affiliates should also be assessed by their potential for five-year survival at the institution.
Parkash B. Chougule
The writer is an associate clinical professor of radiation medicine at the School of Medicine.
Whenever they say it’s not the money, it’s the money.
All the articles and letters on the departure of E. Gordon Gee suggest an almost universal belief that he didn’t move to Vanderbilt because of the money, which was about three times what Brown was paying him. By my rough calculation, he would have lost out on about $3.5 million had he stayed at Brown for five more years. While there may have been additional reasons for his unexpected departure, if Brown didn’t feel sufficiently moved to up the ante, why should it expect Gee to make the sacrifice? He certainly seems to have been a satisfactory fund-raiser for the University as well as for himself.
Maxwell A. Howell ’51
I appreciate the candor of the BAM’s coverage of the resignation of President Gee, especially considering how little lead time you had to report the story. I hope, however, that you and the BAM staff include yourselves in the soul-searching evident in the aftermath of the resignation. As part of the public-relations machinery of the University, you have to tread a fine line between journalism and boosterism. I believe that if you review your coverage of the Gee presidency, especially in the light of recent events, you will find that there was too much of the latter.
From the time he was hired, it was obvious he lacked the gravitas and intellectual weight of his predecessors. You took this for the public-relations challenge that it was, and in true late-1990s style tried to turn something rather less into something rather more, regaling us with tales of Gee’s bow ties, his roots, his vibrant persona, and his inspirational addresses. You tried so hard to create a celebrity out of Gee, but the effort was ultimately unconvincing to this reader.
Somewhere in academia I am certain there is a leader with the intellectual stature of Vartan Gregorian and the management skills of Gordon Gee. I trust that the Corporation and its search committee will make every effort to identify this individual. If they succeed, however, I hope the BAM will err on the side of caution in trumpeting the person’s virtues and accomplishments.
Joel R. Charny ’75
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
It’s plain to see why E. Gordon Gee’s presidency dissolved so quickly. Brown temporarily (I hope) thought it was a corporation and not an exceptionally intimate institution of higher education. Ever since graduating from Brown, I’ve been learning that financial achieve-ments are usually not compatible with real growth achievements, the kind that change and transform people’s minds and spirits for good and not gain. I wish you all luck in getting back on the right track, the one usually not taken.
Laury Kohlenbrener Epstein ’77
Golan Heights, Israel
I read the account of Gee’s sellout in the March/April BAM with dismay. Gee came to visit me in my office at Twentieth Century Fox during his trip to California last year. He was most interested in getting a tour of the studio, which I now realize should have been a dead giveaway that a Hollywood-style highest bidder mentality lurked, as it often does, close beneath the surface charm. Most appalling of all the justifications for his weak-minded behavior, however, is Gee’s statement that there were days at Brown when he did not have quite "the feeling of absolute joy." Hey, welcome to life! Who does? Is the message to young people that, if your work or your studies are not full of absolute joy every single day, quit and go somewhere else? I cannot imagine a worse example of leadership from a supposed educator.
Was this man under an employment contract? If so, he should have been sent back to his office when all this first started and told to finish his job, and for the compensation he’d originally agreed to. And Vanderbilt should have been reminded that you don’t need a law school to know what tortious interference means. If he was not under contract, those practices surely require review in the wake of this debacle.
Tom Rothman ’76
Los Angeles, Calif.
First, ex-President Gee should be asked to reimburse the University for the monies he received from Brown. Second, no husband and wife should both be employed by the University at the same time; it represents a definite conflict of interest. Third, the Corporation should notify all foundations awarding grants to educational institutions of the facts behind Gee’s coming and leaving. The Corporation should also suggest that Vanderbilt and Gee be excluded from receiving grants for at least five years.
Walter Chucnin ’36
Boca Raton, Fla.
I, too, was very disappointed with President Gee’s resignation, as it seemed that Brown University had made a seamless and remarkable transition from one president to another. I was particularly disturbed, however, that Gee did not have the integrity to honor his commitment to the University. I know Gordon Gee, and I, like many others, felt shocked, betrayed, and angry.
It is interesting to consider the notion of Gee’s "fit"at Brown. I realize that the University prides itself as an institution of diversity, political correctness, advocacy, etc., but it is important to understand that everyone does not share these views to the extreme; perhaps Gordon Gee realized he was one of those people.
There admittedly was a faction on campus that resented Gee and objected to his "enthusiasm for college sports, his fast-talking style, and his habit of walking around campus wearing a Brown baseball cap." I find that position bigoted, intolerant, elitist, and mean-spirited. Gordon Gee was a commendable president during his brief tenure. Perhaps he just wanted to be appreciated (and compensated). The reason for his departure might be as simple as that.
The writer is a three-time Brown parent.
I found your recent cover story on former President E. Gordon Gee riveting. I also found him a man in a hurry.
Recently, members of the class of 1950 received mailings from Brown asking us to commemorate our fiftieth reunion with a charitable gift annuity. I responded by pledging $10,000.
I was not truly astonished to receive a form letter from President Gee acknowledging my donation, but I was appalled to note that his letter was "rubber-stamped" with his name. I realize $10,000 may be a paltry sum to some fund-raisers, but I am sure President Wriston, in my day at Brown, would have responded with more style and better business etiquette by personally signing the letter.
Lea Guyer Gordon ’50
After pondering the Gee fiasco I am pleased to submit the following:
We admired a fellow named Gee
But he thought, "How nice it would be
"If Brunonia’s ducks
"Came up with more bucks!"
But Vanderbilt had the Moneeeeee!
S. James Beale ’37
As Norman Boucher admits, he wrote "A Week in February" under a tight deadline. Perhaps that’s the reason his article suffers from the fallacy of balanced reporting. On this spurious principle the news media bend over backward to give equal time or space to both sides of a controversy, even when there’s little dispute over who’s right and who’s wrong. Thus the medical community and Big Tobacco, say, both receive equal coverage of their respective opinions on how smoking affects health. Similarly, Boucher tries to balance his coverage of Brown and ex-President Gee, although it was not Brown but Gee who violated the agreement that he stay for eight years. It also was not Brown but Gee who tried to renegotiate his contract in his favor. One might justifiably come away from Boucher’s article feeling that both sides had their pros and cons and that Gee’s legacy (hiring good administrators and raising big bucks) somehow compensated for his betrayal.
As a result, I call on Boucher to solicit for BAM a pair of articles, one by a critic and one by a supporter of Gee, both of whom know the issues fully, and to run these articles together as soon as possible. Full disclosure on the Gee case seems urgent for the health of the Brown community.
George Held ’58
New York City
Norman Boucher replies: I fail to see how Mr. Held’s point-counterpoint suggestion differs from the balanced approach he finds so inadequate in my article. In any case, he may rest assured that the BAM will report any additional news surrounding the circumstances of Gee’s resignation.
Upon reading that Gordon Gee had been appointed the president, I did not think that he would stay long at the school. He had excellent qualifications, but not for Brown.
In the future it might be wise for the welfare of the school to choose a president with an Ivy League background.
Sally Abbott Barthold ’55
I’m glad Gee is gone. His indecisiveness, disloyalty, and opportunism make it apparent he’s not the kind of man to lead an institution of Brown’s stature.
Now I hope that on the next go-round the Corporation will be able to tell the difference between a Gee and a gee-whiz.
James P. Cole ’55
Whenever money is the presiding principle, values are compromised. Brown now pays the piper. I always felt Gee was enlisted as university president primarily to enrich the coffers. Now, ironically, he is abandoning Brown for Vanderbilt’s all-too-irresistible salary offer. Money was the reason he came, and money is the reason he leaves. As they say, "What goes around, comes around." Now maybe Brown will get back not to business but to academics.
Cliff Island, Maine
We keep a small flock of Shetland sheep so I thought I was used to endless rumination, but nothing could have prepared me for the all-out orgy of fretful regurgitation brought up in the cover story on Gee’s resignation. In one masterstroke of doublespeak, the cover announced "The Unfinished Presidency," when what was really at issue was a markedly Finished Presidency.
In all the discussion of ethics, values, and the perils of academia’s obscene imitation of corporate America, I found very little reflection on the role of the University itself in the twenty-first century. I found no questioning of a top-down, one-time-through educational system in an age of open access to information, where in-demand technology skills gained today can be expected to be obsolete in less than a year. In an age when the real benefits of democracy and self determination should be evident to all, academic education worldwide is steadfast in its adherence to a hierarchical structure scarcely changed since the age of feudal fealty.
Is Brown a community or just an institution? If a community, it may find the present crisis an opportunity to respond with a thorough reexamination of its administrative structure and culture, much as we students approached curriculum reform in 1968-69. In fact, that kind of reexamination and restructuring is happening in a few of the most forward-looking corporations in America today – those businesses wise enough to see a rigid top-down structure as an impediment to competition in a fast-moving marketplace.
Bill Skubi ’71
Scientists and Lawyers
In the item about Barry Scheck’s appearance on campus to promote a new book ("Just the DNA Ma’am," Elms, May/ June), the reporter mentions Scheck’s defense for being on the wrong side of the DNA evidence in the Simpson case. Scheck claims he attacked the "way in which the police collected the evidence." I wonder if he investigated that possibility in Innocence Project cases. If so, I commend him for his professionalism and ethical approach to jurisprudence. If not, I fear the science of DNA testing will succumb to the art of lawyering.
Robert P. Hughes ’62
Rockin'' at ''BRU
Lewis Schaffer ’56 calls for old DJs to establish when rock ‘n roll came to WBRU. In the fall of 1961, I was on the air playing rock records from my collection as well as records from the station’s library.
The daily format, however, was mostly jazz, classical, news, and sports. A daily afternoon program called "Rhythm Section" featured current up-tempo popular hits, but rock ‘n roll was restricted to the "Saturday Night Dance Party."
Rock ‘n roll probably made its first appearance on WBRU in 1958.
Don Harris ’65
I was not unhappy to read Carl Takei’s editorial regarding the failure of Brown’s African-American and Latino students to integrate historically white student groups (Studentside, March/ April). I agree with him that much depends on minority trailblazers and that students who opt to play this role can do much to further the cause of diversity.
However, I’m bothered by the notion that once again it falls on minority students to bear the brunt of such efforts while having white students make an effort to leave behind their comfortable majority role never seems to be an option. I wonder why we don’t work harder to think about integration as an opportunity for majority students to be part of minority-student activities.
Why is it that the litmus test for integration continues to be whether white organizations have a sprinkling of nonwhite faces and not the reverse? Couldn’t it be that minority student organizations might welcome participation from majority students? Or perhaps better, why don’t students seek to start organizations that reflect a wider set of concerns? This means that Brown should encourage students to be involved in an eclectic set of activities that help students value the experience of moving outside their respective racial comfort zones. Which is ultimately to say, as my old teacher [Professor of English] Michael Harper likes to emphasize, that we should seek "both/and" solutions over those which offer the usual "either/or" dead ends.
Herman Beavers ’83
Prototype Pancake House
I can’t wait to read Donald Antrim’s novel The Verificationist ("Dinner at the Pancake House," Books, March/April). I suspect that the prototype of the pancake house, whose paean is excerpted alongside the review, is indeed the old International House of Pancakes on Thayer Street, now sadly converted upscale! Might I be right, Antrim?
Richard Funk ’70
Friday at Eight
The nostalgic look back at Providence by Ilene Hoffman Gannaway ’90 (Finally, March/April) really struck a chord with my wife and me. We, too, are glued to the TV on Friday evenings at eight, watching and searching for the Providence of our time back in the 1940s and marveling at the wonderful changes since. How beautiful the city appears. We exclaim aloud when we see boating and kayaking on the Providence River, which in our day seemed beyond help. Although we were born and raised in Rhode Island, after graduation our roads to the future led elsewhere. Like Gannaway, we still long for Providence, as I suspect many others do. But at least on Friday at eight, for a brief shining hour we wallow in old memories.
Donald Dietz ’49
What a great delight to receive the March/April BAM and the nostalgic moment created by the wonderful article on the Veterans College by classmate Ron Wilson ("Before Affirmative Action"). The full-page photo of Jim Cunningham, who headed the veterans extension division, and Director of Admission Bruce Bigelow brought back many vivid, exhilarating memories of those days of yore and of the many wonderful and exciting meetings with these two fine gentlemen who welcomed me into the loop after I had done well enough to transfer into the mainstream of Brown’s regular academic program.
One of the veterans highlighted was Sarah Davol Test ’50. By coincidence, I was a combat infantry medic on detached duty from the Seventh Division and was assigned to the same unit on Okinawa as "Sally" (as Sarah was called). I, too, was caught in the treacherous typhoon Sally describes, as well as in similar skirmishes and kamikaze attacks.
As one of the fortunate veterans able to gain admission to the Veterans College by virtue of the G.I. Bill, I once again came in contact with that wonderful Red Cross girl on my registration day. After graduating in 1950, I eventually entered the Boston University School of Medicine and have practiced obstetrics and gynecology ever since.
I owe it all to the foresight and humanism of the late, revered President Henry Wriston and Dean Sam Arnold, who forged this wonderful and remarkable program for qualified students who couldn’t afford college tuition.
Kudos and tip of the hat to Ron Wilson for a world-class article.
Bernard Berstein ’50