Mail Room

By The Editors / March / April 2002
July 1st, 2007


Learning at Home

Thank you for your excellent, well-balanced article on homeschooling ("Homeschooling Comes of Age," January/February). I would like to mention one other aspect of homeschooling that wasn't in Jennifer Sutton's article - the ability to individualize curricula for children who do not fit a standard profile. I am currently homeschooling my son because the regular schools, both public and private, were unable to meet his educational needs. My son is highly gifted in some areas but also has learning disabilities. In homeschooling, there is no difficulty matching the level of each subject to his ability level because there is no need to force him to keep pace with pupils his age. This ability to provide an individualized education means that my son can soar ahead of "grade level" in his areas of strength while getting support in his weaker areas - keeping him interested and involved while avoiding frustration and discouragement.

Meredith Warshaw
Newton Highlands, Mass.


The writer is a former Brown employee.


Although I am not a Brown alumna, I want to thank Jennifer Sutton for her article on Brown's acceptance of homeschooled students. She did her homework, which is far more than I can say about the writers of the many articles I've read on homeschooling. It's obvious that this piece was written from Brown's experience, not unfounded opinion. (For an eye-opening look at why homeschooling works better than public education, please read Dumbing Us Down by John Gatto, the 1991 New York State Teacher of the Year who left the teaching profession for some of the reasons stated in Sutton's article.)

As a parent who educates her two children at home, I am encouraged to see profiles of young adults who have already gone through the process and achieved a higher goal. It gives those of us who educate our children encouragement and vision for the future.

Janine Giambalvo
York, Pa.



Speaking Out

Charlotte Bruce Harvey's article "Doctor of Mercy" (January/February) is a well-written and sensitive article on the difficult subject of female circumcision. There is one error of omission, however. The article leads the reader to believe that the practice is confined to Africa and the Middle East. Muslim women in Southeast Asian countries, such as Malaysia and Indonesia, also routinely perform female circumcision on young girls.

Gary E. Miller '75
Bend, Ore.


I was very touched and inspired to read of the work of Nawal Nour '88 ("Doctor of Mercy," January/February). Education can have a powerful impact indeed, and her compassionate work with her female patients will undoubtedly change many of their attitudes, as well as the attitudes of her medical colleagues.

I had feared that the fight against female genital mutilation had been eclipsed by the magnitude of the AIDS epidemic in Africa, so I am glad to see Dr. Nour speaking out on this issue. I for one would be honored to contribute to her work in educating women (and men) toward the eradication of female genital mutilation. I would appreciate instructions on how to donate funds; perhaps other readers would as well, and you could include it in your next issue.

Betsy Teutsch


The writer is a Brown parent.


Checks made out to the African Women's Health Center can be sent to Susan Roux, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 116 Huntington Ave., 5th floor, Boston, Mass. 02115.



Need-Blind At Last

As former students on financial aid, as need-blind-admission activists, and as committed alumni volunteers, we are deeply gratified to learn that President Simmons has made a priority of ending Brown's long-standing practice of socio-economic discrimination (Here & Now, January/February). While her predecessors have spoken eloquently of need-blind admission as a goal, President Simmons has shown the leadership, con- viction, and plain-old chutzpah to devise, within the first few months of her administration, a plan to get us there - quickly!

We have long been confident that a development effort targeted at raising the funds to enable need-blind admission would be feasible. With President Simmons at the helm of such an effort, we are convinced it will be successful. Toward that end, we will happily double our giving pledge for 2002. We urge all financial-aid alumni to do the same.

President Simmons, thank you for your vision. We are proud of you.

Michael Householder '89, '90 M.A.T.
Suzanne Rivera '91
Irvine, Calif.


I had conflicting reactions to reports that President Simmons is pushing for need-blind admission to Brown: Great, just the sort of initiative I had hoped she would be taking. And: When did it become policy to consider in admission a student's ability to pay?

When I was a scholarship student, perhaps out of a youthfully naive sense of fairness, I took for granted that an admission policy at any college or university worth its salt mandated accepting students on the basis of merit first and asked questions about income second. That was a mainstay of my respect for the University as an august, above-the-capitalist-fray institution, more like the Supreme Court than a corporation.

So, a twofold response. A request: could the BAM provide a history of the undermining of the need-blind admission policy that used to be? And encouragement: may Brown's background-blind presidential-selection process be followed by the new president's need-blind policy initiative.

Brent Harold '60
Wellfleet, Mass.


The writer was a Brown assistant professor of English from 1968 to 1975.


While reading the letter by Rachel Sherman '91 (Mail Room, January/ February), I shed not just a few crocodile tears. Her arguments heavily suggest a lack of true dedication. When and if she approaches the heights of President Simmons (or, to a greater extent, of Marie Curie) and experiences her grad-student deprivations, she might have gained a modicum of understanding and wisdom. May I suggest that she quit her whining and pay her dues as legions of grad students have done before her.

Thomas R. Ford '53
Cadiz, Ohio


I firmly support President Ruth Simmons's stand against trade unionism on campus. Obviously, President Simmons knows what I learned about trade-union strategy and tactics early in my business career. These unions will search for a small, disaffected group of employees, organize them, and then expand from this base. They have no ethics, will never stop infiltrating, will never stop organizing, and will never quit - until they own you.

I learned this while working at Grumman Aerospace, a fine non-union company. A trade union tried to organize the air-conditioning-maintenance people. But the vast majority of other employees who knew Grumman to be a pro-employee, paternalistic employer ran them off.

Based on my experience, the United Auto Workers, if successful with graduate students, would move into other areas at Brown. Ultimately, we could see professors organized. I shudder at the thought of the Corporation having to negotiate a contract with the UAW. Bad stuff! Trade unions do have their place. But it's not on our campus.

Martin A. Shaw '55
Saint Lucie West, Fla.



Better Than the Times

In recent years i've had to be content with the Sunday New York Times crossword, but now I have become a big fan of Michael Vuolo's puzzle in the BAM.

Judith Mederos Barrington '61
Bath, Maine


Many thanks and much appreciation to Michael Vuolo '92 for the wonderful acrostic puzzles in the last few BAMs. They are sophisticated, funny, and erudite - superior, I think, to those in the New York Times. And they can be tough! I had to work hard on the one in the November/December issue and am delighted to have solved it. Keep them coming, Michael. Maybe BAM can tell us something about this very imaginative and brilliant young man.

Natalie Bowen '55 A.M.


Happily, unlike many BAM contributors, Michael Vuolo delivers his work predictably and on deadline. When asked to explain his passion for puzzle making, he replies that after concentrating in biology, he found word-play "to be healthier for my karma than experimenting on turtles." He is grateful for the generous feedback - actually he is grateful for any and all feedback. An opera buff, he can be seen, on occasion, vying for elbow room in the balcony at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. - Editor




The article "9.11.01" in the November/December issue made me so proud of the Brown people who participated in the enormous rescue efforts: the students, graduate students, faculty members, and alumni who gave of their time and their hearts. They are all wonderful. Lastly, I hope the sophomoric senior Shaun Joseph '02 grows up eventually.

Robert C. Pendleton '50
St. Louis Park, Minn.


P. Terrence Hopmann's analysis, "How to Stop Terrorism," reflects outdated prewar thinking (Faculty P.O.V., November/December). He laments a new postГSeptember 11 era in which shadowy networks threaten American security with relative impunity, military retaliation is ineffective, and attacks against states harboring terrorists breed ever more determined terrorists. In fact, what Professor Hopmann describes is the era that ended on September 11.

Hopmann has missed the emergence of the Bush Doctrine. Terrorists must operate from somewhere. The new American policy treats harboring states on a par with terrorists. We destroyed the Taliban regime because it harbored Osama bin Laden. We will execute the same judgment on other states if need be. Terrorists will have nowhere to go, because states harboring them will learn that the price for doing so is their own destruction.

Hopmann assumes that attacks against harboring states will breed more terrorists. It is more likely that a perception of American weakness has emboldened terrorists. By humiliating and destroying terrorists and their state sponsors, we are more likely to discourage new recruits. The proof is in Afghanistan, where we are greeted as liberators, and in the Arab street, which remains mute while we bomb an Islamic regime into rubble. In war, as in life, nothing succeeds like success.

Jeffrey K. Shapiro '83
Arlington, Va.


Writer Lori Baker '86 a.m. and her subject, Professor Omer Bartov ("Crimes Against Humanity," In Class, January/ February), could gather ninety-nine other contributors and publish "One Hundred Ways to Discuss September 11, 2001, Without Mentioning Palestine."

Charles W. McCutchen '52 Sc.M.
Bethesda, Md.



The Puck Stops Here

Although I would not usually write to respond to another letter to the editor, I wanted to let you know that at least some alumni appreciate the journalistic integrity you usually display.

I am writing to counter the broadside by William Pollard '50 (Mail Room, January/February) regarding the article "Grillo on Thin Ice?" (Sports, November/ December). In spite of Mr. Pollard's bullying attitude, I hope you continue to provide alumni with insights into what is happening to and at our alma mater. Mr. Pollard seems to confuse the BAM with University fund-raising literature. Perhaps he believes that his fellow alumni should be lied to, at least with lies of omission, in order to extract donations. I, for one, do not.

The letter from Director of Athletics Dave Roach takes you to task on the same topic but at least sticks to the issue of whether the article was a fair reporting of the situation. To the extent that his complaints are on target, you deserve to take your lumps, but no one should suggest that alumni want to hear only happy news, that your mission is solely to talk up the University, or that criticism of Brown should put you "on thin ice." Keep up the (generally) excellent work. We get four different alumni magazines at our house, and the BAM is the standout among them.

Bruce Horwitz '70
Newton, Mass.


The apology by editor Norman Boucher for publishing the article criticized by Dave Roach and others was inadequate. It explained for twenty-nine and a half lines why the article was good; his apology went on for only two and a half lines. To me that is hardly an apology. His attempts to prove his point go unheard by anyone who knows that sports teams are cyclic and go through ups and downs. Perhaps the editor will have learned his lesson, but I seriously doubt it. He is lucky he is still in academia, because in the real world he would be looking for work.

Patrick T. Clark '79
Warwick, R.I.



Jusczyk Remembered

On behalf of my family, I would like to thank you for the nicely written Farewell ("The Children's Interpreter," Obituaries, November/December) for my brother, Peter W. Jusczyk '70. It was a well-done piece focusing on his professional work studying the origins of language in children.

I realize that the amount of space available often determines what can be put in an article, but there were a couple of significant omissions that should not be overlooked: Peter was the son of the late Dr. Walter F. Jusczyk '41, a significant figure in the Brown family for more than fifty years. Walter was named one of the athletes of the century for his pitching prowess; he helped found the Brown Hall of Fame, actively worked as a recruiter, and regularly supported athletics and alumni activities at Brown. He was a president of the Brown Club of Rhode Island and sat on its board for many years. And, until his death in 1997, he always took an active part in reunion activities for the class of '41.

Also worthy of note was that Peter was the only nonplayer recipient of the J. Richmond Fales Award, which is presented annually to the senior who contributes most to the basketball team. He was presented the award for his work as manager and statistician and for his jack-of-all-trades mentality. His love for the team dated back to the days of Stan Ward, who gave us the chance to be water boys for the team back in the early 1960s. I can still remember the excitement of "being part of the team" in Marvel Gym, and I'm sure it had a lot to do with Peter's devotion to the Bruins.

Most important, Peter was the driving force in the creation of the Walter F. Jusczyk Memorial Scholarship Fund, which helps scholar-athletes interested in pursuing a career in medicine. The family has now decided to change the name of the fund to the Jusczyk Family Scholarship Fund, in order to remember both my father and my brother. Alumni and friends who wish to contribute to the fund can send donations to The Jusczyk Family Scholarship Fund, Brown University, Box 1893, Providence 02912.

Steven Jusczyk '72
Coventry, R.I.



ROTC Redux

Isn't it about time for Brown to be receptive to offering ROTC on campus? For one reason or another, some Ivy League universities decided in years past that ROTC was not to be offered on campus. I think ROTC was last on campus at Brown in 1972. Several years ago I was informed that Brown had a relationship with ROTC by way of Providence College, similar to Harvard's use of the program at MIT.

However, when it comes time to win a war to protect our way of life, isn't it better to have some of the best minds at work in the military? Having ROTC off-campus implies that a military profession is second-rate, not up to the requirements of all the other courses offered. I think most of us know that isn't true.

When it comes time to win a war, we need the best.

Bill McKibben '49
Dedham, Mass.



Applied-Math Stars

Baltasar Mena '73 PH.D. may now add a fifth to his list of Mexican Brown alumni who have received Mexico's Sciences and Arts National Awards (Mail Room, November/December): I was granted the 2001 award late last year.

By the way, Ismael Herrera '62 Ph.D. and I got our degrees from the Division of Applied Mathematics. Hence, as only four Mexican mathematicians have received the National Award, that gives the division 50 percent of them! (The other two mathematicians, Jose Adem and Samuel Gitler, both got their Ph.D.s from Princeton - another 50 percent record.)

Onesimo Hernandez-Lerma '78 Ph.D.
Mexico City, Mexico





You refer to David Kertzer as a professor of anthropology and Italian studies. Isn't he also an alumnus, class of 1969?

Jim Neuberger '68
New York City


Yes. - Editor

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