Looking for Justice

By The Editors / September / October 2000
October 26th, 2007

I was impressed with the swift, true justice meted out to the students involved in the violation of Ebony Thompson ("The Justice Factor," Elms, May/June). The University Disciplinary Council was efficient and clearly correct. I am appalled, however, that the Providence District Court, which holds to the outmoded method of the adversarial jury trial, is so arrogant as to not accept the guilt of the offenders determined by the superior system at Brown.

Farrel I. Klein ’77

I was disappointed with the BAM’soversimplified coverage of the Ebony Thompson case. The article implied that the campus debate over this incident is only an issue of race, pitting Third World activists against white friends of the three men. However, the case — and its implications — is much more complex.

Many students unaffiliated with either side felt that the process and outcome were grossly unfair. Robin Rose, who was then dean of student life, kicked the three defendants off campus before the investigation had even been completed, and the materials leaked from the disciplinary hearing that followed indicate that they were convicted solely on the basis of Thompson’s inconsistent, uncorroborated testimony. Yet one of the defendants, Bradley Groover, was expelled without possibility of readmission. He is only the second student in Brown’s history to receive this punishment. Given the uncertainties in this case, this level of severity is difficult to justify.

Members of the Brown chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), as well as many other students, believe this case highlights the dangers of operating a disciplinary system without adequate procedural safeguards. We are currently campaigning to reform this system through the adoption of such commonly accepted principles of fair adjudication as sentencing guidelines, public accountability, and clear rules of conduct

I would encourage anyone interested in learning more about this issue to read the Brown Daily Herald’s reporting on
this case (www.browndailyherald.com) and the Brown ACLU’s reform proposals (www.brown.edu/Students/ACLU).

Carl Takei ’02
The writer is president of the Brown ACLU chapter.

According to University records, Bradley Groover was the seventh student expelled since the early 1980s, not the second-ever. Brown did not systematically track expulsion numbers before 1983. — Editor

Thanks for publishing the thoughtful comments of professors Subotnik and Josephson on the Ebony Thompson case ("Justice — Or Ideology?" Mail, July/ August). It is too bad that an atmosphere exists at Brown where justice for accused students can be sacrificed to race and gender politics. This was demonstrated in the 1996 Adam Lack case and now apparently has happened again.

Vice President Janina Montero’s reply on behalf of the Office of Student Life was infuriatingly evasive. She fails to address the facts or explain how justice was served. Her argument amounts to an assertion that the public does not have the relevant facts (which she won’t reveal), and so we should blindly trust that the Office of Student Life did the right thing. Worse, Montero’s bureaucratic happy talk of campus outreach and good intentions leaves one with the cold feeling that she does not really care about what happened to these students in this case.

Lest anyone think that the triumph of ideology over facts is a new development at Brown, I came across a yellowed op-ed piece I published in the Brown Daily Herald on November 18, 1982, concerning incidents in which the Third World Center had been vandalized and bottles alleg-edly thrown at minority students. One professor had publicly insisted that the incidents had to be interpreted as racist, even though the perpetrators had never been caught, and so their motive (not to mention their race) could not be known.

Now this sort of moral idiocy has metastasized at Brown to the point where young people’s lives can be unjustly ruined to serve race and gender politics. The lesson being taught is contemptible and bodes ill for the university’s future.

Jeffrey K. Shapiro ’83
Arlington, Va.

Over the past decade, Brown has slipped from permitting, then inviting, and now to promoting the criminalization of political and personal differences. The Ebony Thompson matter is merely the latest chapter in a sad history of admin-istrative malfeasance.

As the recipient of both Yale and Brown degrees, as a regular reader of New Haven newspapers, and as the parent of a son who graduated from Yale in the 1990s, I have observed a greater sense of fairness and balance at Yale when dealing with similar cases. On that campus, the protection of the rights of both the accused and the accuser is a principle widely espoused by people of all races, ethnic origins, and genders.

The statement published in the Brown Daily Herald last March by the Office of Student Life states that its disciplinary procedures were developed by the Brown community. That’s not good enough. The U.S. Constitution was incomplete without the Bill of Rights, which guaranteed the rights of individuals precisely because communities have a tendency toward suppression.

As a university professor myself, I am well aware of documented cases of political opponents dragging innocent people through administrative hell. Allegations of wrongdoing can be a much easier weapon to use than coherent intellectual debate. The campus atmosphere and the learning process suffer when political and personal freedom is weakened.

Brown and Yale are both exemplary universities on many dimensions. But Brown’s disciplinary process lacks the integrity that Yale’s has earned.

Walter Dolde ’69
Woodbridge, Conn.

I was totally disgusted reading "The Justice Factor," with its racist overtones.

The questioner you quoted had it right: "I don’t see any representation on this panel from anyone but the victim. Can you explain this?" How could there be "an open forum" when only representatives of one side were onstage? How could there be any kind of meaningful discussion without someone to speak for the three accused?

Regardless of the facts of the case or the ultimate outcome, the University disgraced us all by acting in such a heavy-handed, though lily-livered, way. An apology is owed not only to the accused but to the whole Brown community.

William Rivelli ’57
New York City

Vice President Montero asserts that in my letter about the Ebony Thompson case (Carrying the Mail, July/August), I "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 [and] accuse the Council and the University, therefore, of exhibiting both race and gender bias." Casual readers may have accepted this assertion at face value. If, however, they take the trouble to reread my letter, they will see that it addresses itself exclusively to gender and says nothing at all about race.

Thus, in a public forum, Vice President Montero has imputed to me a view on a highly charged subject that I did not express. This is not a trivial error. No retraction can fully undo the impression left by her assertion. And that was the very point of my original letter. People in power, such as Brown administrators, have a special obligation to frame their accusations with precision, making certain that the evidence supports a specific charge against a specific individual. What if the person erroneously charged were not a tenured professor but an undergraduate, subject to expulsion — or, as in the case of Adam Lack, to years of suffering that Brown, though it fully exonerated him, readmitted him, and paid him damages, could never restore?

Rose Rosengard Subotnik
The writer is a professor of music.

Contrary to the assertions of Vice President Montero, I never stated that the University Disciplinary Council based its decisions on Ebony Thompson’s gender or race. I never accused the council or the University of gender or race bias. In fact, I never mentioned the council or the University at all. I deliberately focused my attention on the administration alone. One should not confuse Brown with those who temporarily administer it.

Montero’s attempt to explain away Dean of Student Life Robin Rose’s recusal from the Thompson case will not wash. In any case, my words focused not on the dean’s recusal but on her abrupt resumption of authority over the case at the last moment in order to protect Thompson from prosecution for multiple reported breaches of the code of student behavior. Montero is silent on that point.

Montero invokes federal law protecting the privacy of students in order to suppress the truth regarding the misbehavior of this administration. An earlier administration used the same smoke screen in the Adam Lack case and almost got away with it. Since the Thompson case was almost entirely on the public record thanks to the Brown Daily Herald and to Thompson’s public filings of criminal charges against her fellow students, such evasions should mislead no one. They only make empty her calls for "frank and honest conversations" and for yet another official study to distract us from the truth about yet another miscarriage of justice at Brown.

Finally, I stand by my "harsh words" for the Office of Student Life and for its director. The students whose lives that office has damaged would, I suspect, have harsher words. It is past time to dissolve the office, end its intellectually and morally bankrupt programs, and start from scratch.

David Josephson
The writer is an associate professor of music.


I didn’t know anything about Rick’s death until I got the May/June issue of BAM ("The Life and Death of Rick Schomp").

Although I’d lost contact with Rick and Kathie, I so vividly remember them during the 1969—70 year. It was I who took the picture you used in the magazine of Kathie standing on Rick’s shoulders, and it was my (then) wife and I who introduced Rick and Kathie to each other.

I think we did so because they were both tall; one would not have expected that the perpetually sunny Kathie would connect with the often cloudy Rick. But they did connect. She parted his clouds, and as a result we saw more of the "Mr. Schomp the DJ" you refer to in your article. That effervescent, charismatic aspect was always there, and I knew it well. But there was always a side of Rick we might have called moody, or contemplative, or maybe (back then) "deep." Depression just would not have occurred to me. Rick Schomp was special, unique — I’ll bet he was to a lot of people.

Dave Hancock ’70

The article by Chad Galts on the suicide of Rick Schomp was indeed an informative exploration of the stigma of depression. However, by focusing only on Schomp and William Styron, and by omitting other risk factors, Galts may lead your readers to incorrect conclusions about the epidemiology of depression. Although it is true that three fourths of suicides are males, women are diagnosed with major depressive episodes two to three times more often than men. Lifetime prevalence for women is well over 20 percent. There is some evidence that the prevalence of depression in men is rising, and men may well self-medicate or refuse treatment, as your article reveals. However, a major risk factor for depression remains being female, especially if the woman also has the primary responsibility for children under the age of five.

Carol Landau ’70
The writer is a clinical professor of psychiatry and human behavior.

Mental illness is nothing to be trifled with; however, it should be a comfort to many that state-of-the-art medications, accompanied by psychotherapy and a support network, can lead people such as me to lead productive and enjoyable lives. Ican empathize with Schomp probably more than most BAM readers.

I was to march triumphantly through the Van Wickle Gates with members of my class in 1985, but the sudden onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder and crippling depression during my sophomore year ended that dream.

To those who feel as if they’ve "hit the wall" and hear lines such as "You’re so successful, look at your family, you have nothing to be depressed about!" — do yourself a favor and seek the help of a professional. It could save your life.

Jeffrey Louis Peikin ’85
Gaithersburg, Md.

I was moved beyond tears by the recent cover story on Rick Schomp (May/ June). Although we were only casually acquainted during our years at Brown together, I had an interesting encounter with him. At the class reunion in 1995, there was an informal Sunday brunch at Pembroke, during which we happened to sit next to each other and talk up a storm. He told me all about his school teaching and was visibly proud of having his oldest son joining him. My heart goes out to Kathie and the kids.

Richard Funk ’70


I think the BAM did a wonderful job highlighting Professor Hazeltine’s business course and his genuine interest in students. I feel compelled to mention another outstanding Hazeltine attribute, one best witnessed in his engineering classes. While many teachers take this complex material and further obfuscate it, Barrett uses his unassuming presentation style to make the difficult appear easy. The genius of this style is that students don’t even realize they’re learning the hard stuff. What a pleasure to watch him at work.

David A. Durfee ’80 Sc.M., ’92 Ph.D.
N. Scituate, R.I.

I read with great pleasure your article on Professor Barrett Hazeltine. My son, Evan, was one of the students with "a hunger for business learning" who had the good fortune to meet this great teacher in his first year at Brown. He and his friend, David, started Yellow Planet Clothing as an independent study, which they kept going for several years until they were inspired to start the Brown University Entrepreneurship Program. The good professor has remained a strong influence in the lives of these two great young men, who went on after graduation to start an Internet company. I believe that meeting Professor Hazeltine was crucial to my son’s success; I remain grateful to Brown for this opportunity.

Karen H. Geller
Freeport, Ill.

In May 1973, facing the last few weeks of my senior year and the impending draft, I was all but done with classes except for the Shocks for Jocks final exam. Having spent the reading period for exams in the hospital recuperating from knee surgery, I was confident that Professor Hazeltine would let me out of my final exam. On the telephone he would hear none of it, and before I could discourage him, he was off the telephone and walking to my third floor walk-up apartment. And so the exam was hand-delivered to me by the dean, who, seeing me on crutches, remarked that it was the "least he could do."

I will never forget that moment. And after teaching for many years myself, I find Dean Hazeltine’s actions all the more significant. Thanks, Dean.

Steve Pollock ’73
San Rafael, Calif.

Thanks for the article on Barrett Hazeltine; it’s nice to see that some things at Brown haven’t changed. One of Professor Hazeltine’s contributions in the early 1970s was to make sure every incoming student had a user account on the IBM mainframe — a practice unheard of elsewhere in the Ivy League. We started with $200, and if we used it up, a quick trip to the dean’s office got it replenished, no questions asked.

I suspect that these Oh-One-Five accounts (as they were called, after the first three digits of the nine-digit account number) gave many of us our start in the world of computing. For me it meant a change from being a simple premed to (eventually) a medical informatician. Thanks, Barrett. (And thanks for Engin. 6, too.)

Jim Cimino ’77
New York City


"A Modest Proposal," by Steve Cohen ’75 (May/June) grabbed my attention immediately because I went the opposite direction. I attended Brown for one year in the class of 1958 and then graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1959. Cohen’s comments about ROTC are important because having officers from many different backgrounds in the armed services is a plus. I appreciate that Cohen wrote and the BAM published the article; we need armed forces that are professional but at the same time have a "civilian" influence.

Frank Young ’58
Uniondale, N.Y.

John Adinolfi’s call for the restoration of ROTC to Brown ("Bring Back ROTC," Mail, July/August) clearly states his case, but it depends upon one central assumption: that the military projects of the U.S. government are always "right" and should always be supported by all U.S. citizens and institutions. Being a U.S. citizen doesn’t mean supporting everything the government does abroad; in fact, most of the time I’m opposed. And just because our alma mater is located in the United States doesn’t mean it should support all U.S. foreign actions either.

At the time ROTC was banished, the United States was engaged in a foreign war that many of us considered (and still consider) a criminal, imperialist venture. Subsequent events in such countries as Nicaragua and El Salvador have demon-strated that the Vietnam War wasn’t just a "mistake" but the logical outcome of deliberate policy decisions that, were there any real justice in the world, would qualify most of our national policy makers as war criminals.

Adinolfi’s use of the phrase "our vital interests" begs the question of just who "we" are. If having ROTC back means that the U.S. military will be more effective in "kill[ing] people and blow[ing] things up," then I’m for keeping it out. I don’t consider myself "arrogant and proud" for believing this; nor do I consider Mr. Adinolfi "stupid" for thinking otherwise. And I would never blame
the soldiers who carried out the government’s policies.

Alan Meyers ’72


I read with interest your article on retiring coach Bob Rothenberg ("A Coach Calls It Quits," Sports, July/August). But the sentence beginning "After Fuqua left in 1967" stopped me. Ivan was still grumbling, grousing, and coaching track when I graduated in 1970. A look back at his years and teams at Brown might be interesting.

Steve Coxe ’70
Arlington, Va.

Coach Fuqua retired in 1974, not 1967. The BAM regrets the error. — Editor

Peter Mandel wrote that basketball forward Earl Hunt ’03 set a school single-game and home-gym record with thirty-nine points against Harvard in January. Unless my memory is failing me in my old age, I played in a game at Marvel Gym during the 1970—71 season in which teammate Russ Tyler scored forty-six against URI. I will rely on your research to determine the truth of the matter.

Al Gallotta ’73
Braintree, Mass.

Let’s give a Ki-Yi-Yi for basketball star Earl Hunt and his thirty-nine points against Harvard. But was it "a school record for the most points scored in a game (and the most tallied in a Brown gym)"? What about the forty-eight points scored in a 1938 Marvel Gym game by Harry Platt ’40? It was my impression that that was not only a Brown record but, at the time, a national collegiate record as well. It is also worth noting that despite the wide recognition Harry received in 1937—38 as an individual high scorer, the following year he switched to the role of playmaker for the new sophomore stars Jack Padden ’41 and Tank Wilson ’41, helping to make the 1938—39 team one of Brown’s all-time best.

Ever true!

Bret Carlson ’40
West Falmouth, Mass.

Kenneth Clapp ’40 also wrote to question our claim for Hunt. Both men are correct: the all-time Brown record is still held by Harry Platt ’40. Hunt’s mark is for most most points scored in a game by a freshman, a distinction we mistakenly deleted during editing. Through the years, in fact, five other Brown basketball players have scored more than thirty-nine points in a game. — Editor

The NCAA’s new national headquarters recently opened to the public in White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis. Thanks to Brown’s national NCAA champion women’s rowing team, the Brown University banner is one of eighty-one hanging fifty feet overhead at the east end of the great hall. Also, Joe Paterno ’50 is one of only three coaches featured in the Coaches Theater, where coaches on videotape describe their role in developing student-athletes and champions.

Lou Hofman ’45

It was interesting to read about the invention of the Ultimate Frisbee game in 1968 and its arrival at Brown in 1976. Sorry, you’ll have to tell the historians to go back and do more intensive research.

When I was at Brown in 1957, I played the game that became Frisbee with several of my chums in the Delta Phi fraternity. We called the game "Grimet." We played using one of the fifteen-inch metal beer serving trays that were ubiquitous at the time. You held the tray upside down with one hand and threw it with a flick of the wrist, just as one would throw a Frisbee now. The receiver would try to catch it with one hand. There were usually informal teams that threw the Grimet back and forth, hoping the opponent would miss it or drop it.

I don’t know if we invented the game, or if others at Brown or elsewhere also played, but I do think that we should be revered for our efforts to make the world a better place.

William Rivelli ’57
New York City


Lew Schaffer was correct about the type of music played at WBRU in the early 1950s ("Rockin’ at ’BRU," Mail, July/August). When I was an engineering staffer, business manager, and DJ from 1952 to 1955, we played, in addition to the music Lew mentions, a lot of folk and pop folk such as Harry Belafonte.

I remember also playing Sinatra, Crosby, Johnnie Ray, Frankie Lane, and Nat King Cole, as well as others. However, I am quite certain that, although I had heard of Elvis at the time, he was not in the musical consciousness of most students. I don’t think I even heard the term rock and roll until the very late 1950s or early 1960s.

Tom Casselman ’55
Dublin, Calif.


Your article on the Brown Daily Herald’s contract negotiations with the Undergraduate Council of Students (UCS) missed some important aspects of the story ("Cancelled Check," Under the Elms, May/June).

This winter marked the breakdown of not one but two separate annual contracts. The first, valued at just more than $30,000, was a bulk subscription deal that allowed the UCS to buy papers for undergraduates at the heavily discounted subscription price of six dollars a year per student. It also allowed the Herald to simplify its circulation distribution by using central drop-offs around campus instead of individual deliveries.

For the Herald this has always been purely a business transaction to pay for printing and other costs. Since 1975 the paper has been a nonprofit, independent corporation with a nine-member board of directors (four current students and usually five alumni). Revenues in excess of expenses are plowed back into the paper for such improvements as extra pages and better equipment.

Unfortunately, this year the UCS allowed its president to turn the negotiations into an ideological battle. While the Herald has a strong commitment to cover the diverse population of Brown in its pages, we felt that such matters had no place in a subscription contract. After months of patient efforts to resolve the contract on business terms, the Herald decided to break off talks. We now look forward to a more flexible distribution plan that will expand the paper’s reach.

The second contract between the Herald and the UCS has covered bulk advertising. With a value of about $10,000, this agreement has allowed student organizations to advertise events and programs at a discounted rate. Negotiations on this contract were delayed because of the subscription-contract impasse, but we hope this advertising arrangement will continue.

Your story about the Herald left out two enormous recent developments: a dramatic renovation of its offices at 195 Angell Street and the growth of the paper’s Web site (www.browndailyherald. com).The Herald negotiated a new twenty-year lease with the University and completed improvements earlier this year to make its offices far more professional and technologically up to date. At the same time, the Herald’s Web site now features heraldmail, which sends the day’s headlines, linked to the paper’s contents, to subscribers anywhere free. In addition, on-line discussions of Herald articles and campus issues have been made easier, facilitating lively dialogues that often include alumni as well as students.

Noel Rubinton ’77
Huntington, N.Y.
The writer is a member of the Herald board of directors.


Events have revealed that the subtitle of the March/April article on Gordon Gee’s departure, "What E. Gordon Gee’s Surprise Resignation Reveals about Brown," was distressingly accurate.

The article points out that Vanderbilt’s offer approached $1 million and put Gee among the top ten college presidents in the country and says that Brown did not want to get into a bidding war because it did not have enough money to compete with Vanderbilt. However, the reaction by the University to its simple inability to pay a competitive salary was a stream of face-saving, pride-salving blather about "etiquette," "morality plays," and "decisions about principle."

The University’s reaction may have been self-righteous, but the reactions of many alumni displayed a remarkable amount of self-satisfied arrogance, as can be seen in the May/June letters about the Gee resignation. Hermes Grillo ’44 insinuates that Gee somehow subverted his office for personal gain. Doris Weller ’49 condescendingly "feels sorry for Gee and for Vanderbilt most of all." Bruce Williamson ’49 intones that the departed president will have to live the rest of his life with his initials on his face. Esther Bourne Manning ’40 sniffs, "Now that we know what he’s really like, aren’t we lucky he’s not staying any longer?" Robert Varnum Spalding ’57 spices up his low opinion of Gee with snide generalizations about Brown’s public brethren: "A hands-on college presidency at a place like Brown is obviously different from the remote executive role in a large public university, where he is protected from interaction with students and faculty by a large bureaucracy and a remote location." Howard Silverman ’36 informs us that God is on Brown’s side. This cascade of supercilious balderdash is lightened only a bit by the unintended humor of Patrick Moynihan’87, who suggests limiting the president’s salary to $30,000 plus a housing allowance.

Let us speak plainly here. Brown hired a guy out of its league, couldn’t afford to pay him a competitive salary, and quickly lost him to an institution that could. There is nothing virtuous in that; poverty does not confer moral superiority. As baseball great Pete Rose once said, "Money talks, bullshit walks." The Brown community just walked.

John J. Seater ’69
Raleigh, N.C.

After reading various alumni portray former President Gee negatively, I’d like to present the only side I know of a man I love, admire, and will miss.

I came to Brown in the fall of 1997 at the same time President Gee began his term. After Opening Convocation, I invited President Gee to lunch, even though I knew he’d probably be busy. He invited me to his home for dinner instead.

President Gee was a light on the Brown campus to me: he always had a kind greeting or a smile. At a Brown Bag Lunch lecture series, he had the audience hurting in the abdomen from laughing about the reasons a Mormon man would come to Brown. He was always a cheerleader for Brown, encouraging students to personalize their Brown experience and take ownership of the University. He was optimistic about Brown’s future, optimistic about the impact committed people can have in their lives and in their communities. On his cross-country trek to keep parents, alumni, and donors connected, Gee was able to make an audience of hundreds feel so personal. In Miami he remembered the names of all the students in attendance and had at least one witty or otherwise kind remark to make to each.

When my family did a college tour the spring of 1998, I showed them the Brown campus. After pointing out University Hall, I went up to President Gee’s office door and knocked. Putting aside his tight schedule, he welcomed my family into his office, spoke to my parents, and told my sister that if she got accepted at Brown he’d have her over to his house for dinner. When my sister got accepted to Brown and declined to enroll, he wrote her a personal letter of regret.

President Gee was accessible and willing to help. He responded to e-mails faster than most of my peers do, faster than I do. When I mentioned in passing on the Green that I’d decided to take a year off from Brown, he met with me over coffee to discuss my decision and my goals. When I mentioned to him my parents’ concern about Brown’s less-than-adequate academic advising, he offered to become my adviser himself.

My brief relationship with the person Gordon Gee has definitely been one of the most enjoyable and unexpected experiences I have had during my time at Brown. I will miss him.

Luisa Patino ’02


I was shocked to read of the death of Robert O. Schulze (Obituaries, July/ August). Your story indicates that he was dean of the College from 1964 to 1969. I was a member of the class of 1962, while he was serving, as I recall, as an assistant or associate dean. Dean Schulze was a truly wonderful man, full of enthusiasm, modesty, and human kindness. As I remember him, he seemed always to have a twinkle in his eye and never took himself, or his undergraduate charges, too seriously. For me he was an important role model, a man who combined academic ability with personal decency. As I think of our various encounters, it’s hard not to break into a smile. His death saddens me, as I am sure it does many others.

Bill Fishman ’62
Washington, D.C.

It was with a great deal of sadness that I read of the death of Jim Orr ’59 (Obituaries, May/June). Those of us who sang with Jimmy as Jabberwocks in the late 1950s will remember him warmly.

Jim didn’t come to Brown as a fresh-faced college prep graduate. His ticket was the G.I. Bill, which he earned as a Navy medic during the Korean War years, so he was seven to eight years older than the rest of us. We sensed that his early years had been hard. I remember at my freshman tryout for the Jabberwocks, I thought Jim was the faculty adviser!

Jim was devoted to the Jabberwocks and despite a heavy load of premed courses, he rarely missed a rehearsal or road trip. He was our elder statesman, who patiently and graciously ignored our occasional lapses into the typical foolishness of teenage collegians. By the time he graduated, it was clear that the Jabberwocks had become Jim’s family. I’ll never forget his tears at graduation, as we sang him out with our traditional song of farewell.

"Oh comrades ’ere the dusky wings of night glide gently down, come gather ’round and let us sing farewell..."

So long, Jimmy, from your brothers in song.

Ted Martin ’60
The writer is past president of the Jabberwocks Alumni Association.


Since 1983 Commencement has been held on Memorial Day weekend. My daughter and I took part in the ceremonies this year. While impressed with the overall quality of the entire weekend, I was disappointed that the holiday itself was not recognized. It would seem to me that a moment of silence or a brief acknowledgement of those whose sacrifice made the day’s events possible in the first place would serve only to enhance the grandeur and solemnity of the event.

Geoff Berg ’75 M.D.
Warren, R.I.

To the class of 2000: May 29 was the first time I had walked down College Hill as part of the Commencement procession since my graduation in 1940. Sixty years is a long time. Many of our classmates have passed away, and for those of us who were present there was the spoken, and unspoken, recognition that we are the "survivors."

Usually we had to consult one another’s name tags to be confident we were talking to a classmate we knew fairly well many years ago. As a wag once replied after being asked how his "senior" reunion had gone: "It was fine, except everyone had changed so much they didn’t recognize me." It is one of those times when, like it or not, we face reality, and for me it was a little depressing.

In that frame of mind I entered the first phase of the Commencement procession acknowledging the polite applause of faculty, administrators, and honorary degree recipients. But later I, for one, was completely unprepared for the exuberant,warmhearted cheering ovation that the class of 2000 gave to us "senior" alumni as we passed through their lines. I am not ashamed to admit that it took a major effort to hold back the tears of appreciation that welled up within. In cheering us for having kept the wheels of our wagon turning this long, they had no way of knowing how deeply we wished for them the rewards of a focused young life. Clearly, the common criticisms aimed at "youth" today do not apply to the class of 2000. May your future be as bright as your spirit today. Thank you all.

Allen B. Williams ’40
Rumford, R.I.


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