Letters to the Editor

Our readers respond

Another anonymous woman

 Many thanks for Fred Shapiro’s fascinating collection of long-unrecognized women’s quotations (“Anonymous was a Woman,” January/February). Let me add one more: the famous statement that it was the “manifest destiny” of the United States to expand to the Pacific (and beyond).

My friend and fellow historian Linda S. Hudson, in her 2001 book Mistress of Manifest Destiny: A Biography of Jane McManus Storm Cazneau, 1807–1878. makes a very persuasive case that this formidable woman was the actual author of the editorial which introduced the phrase to the country in the 1840s.

James E. Crisp ’76PhD
Raleigh, NC


The merits of inequality

Professors Hacker and Pierson bemoan government actions (banking reform and tax cuts) that increase inequality of income (“Inequality by Design,” January/February). They omit all the fundamentals, such as why they believe equality of income is desirable in the first place, and how such equality could ever be achieved. For them, inequality is bad—period.

This is class warfare masquerading as economic policy. Hacker and Pierson ask not whether most Americans are making ends meet, but whether some Americans are doing much better. If so, Hacker and Pierson would confiscate the excess through higher taxes.

Fortunately, most Americans do not agree that everyone’s after-tax income should be the same. Nor do they view a millionaire’s paycheck as public property to be redistributed. Perhaps someone should tell the academicians.

Michael W. Steinberg ’74
Bethesda, MD


Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson took me totally by surprise with their commonsense critique of the growing inequity in income and wealth in the United States. Every time I hear about new cuts in services, I look around for the point of view that we citizens can solve this situation quite readily with reasonable tax adjustments. The authors should also have reminded us that during the halcyon years of Eisenhower’s Republican presidency, when the country was building its infrastructure and proud of its public education, the top tax rate was 91 percent. And capitalism was flourishing, thank you. Maybe returning the top tax rates to previous levels is a healthy solution and may help those of us who have profited the most sleep a little better, knowing they are helping to secure services for those not so advantaged. Congratulations for opening the window to this fresh breeze.

Eric Chase ’72
Brooksville, ME


I found it startling that a professor at Yale, of all places, would decry income inequality. Where would Yale be today without the generosity of the super-rich: without the Harknesses, the Sterlings, the Beineckes, and the Whitneys, to name a few? I find it especially ironic that Professor Hacker holds an endowed chair.

Timothy J. Corey ’71
New York, NY


The article “Inequality by Design” is troubling. The writers advocate shared prosperity. What they really mean is redistribution of wealth. This means in its rawest form: from each according to his means, to each according to his needs.

Since both of the writers are professors of political science, I suggest they practice what they preach in their classrooms. Why shouldn’t there be equality of outcome in the classroom? In every class there are a few A students who study long hours to get their grades. Then there are the C and D students who may not study as much but are surely having a lot more fun at parties. The professors could meld all the grades in a class and give every student the resulting grade.

I would be anxious to hear how classroom equality works out for the professors.

Wayne Blankenship Jr. ’47
Kenner, LA


The bad old days

As an undergraduate, I was ineligible for the “lifetime” membership in Mory’s offered to “Yale men” (“Mory’s Comes Back,” November/December 2010). During my senior year at Yale and first year at Yale Law School, I was a witness called by lawyers opposing renewal of Mory’s state liquor license. I remember Mory’s legal representatives arguing that the tone of the club would be lowered if women were given membership and thus allowed to eat there alone or unescorted by males.

One of my dearest friends, Stan Ziegler ’72, was a Whiffenpoof and told me how much he enjoyed singing at Mory’s. I am sorry to say that I was never able to hear him do so. In my senior year as (the first woman) officer of the Yale Debate Association, I was unable to attend meetings because they were held at Mory’s.

Eventually Mory’s capitulated: meetings of Yale organizations were no longer held there. In my second year of law school, I was offered the chance to purchase membership on a yearly basis. It would be nice to think that many Yale alumnae of later years remember fondly time spent as members of Mory’s. But those of us in the Class of 1972 do not.

Jan C. Costello ’72, ’76JD
Agoura Hills, CA


Yale’s unusual treasures

Your article about the Cushing brain specimens (“The Brain Cutter,” January/February) brought forth memories. As a young person, I’d often visit my father’s office at 333 Cedar Street. To leave the building, we would walk toward an ancient cage elevator, along a corridor lined with formaldehyde-filled jars, each preserving tissue. The ones that fascinated me most were fetuses: hydrocephalic with soccer ball–sized heads, anencephalic with flat brain pans, tiny ones stillborn at 20 weeks, and more. I wonder where those fetuses reside now. Perhaps they also should be informing today’s med students in a respectful gallery.

Anna (Fleck) Jacobs Singer ’71MFA
Tuscaloosa, AL


More missing furniture

“How I Stole a Yale Chair” (January/February) evoked a whole series of memories from my undergraduate years. At the time, living rooms came with working fireplaces (rarely used), several deep oaken armchairs, a table or two, and not much else. I don’t remember ever signing a receipt for the furniture in our rooms, nor was I ever aware that Yale had an inventory of the contents of our rooms.

In our sophomore fall semester, a communication appeared on our door informing us that an inspection revealed that we had vandalized a “Navy Table,” and Yale would be assessing us $34.50. We weren’t quite sure what a navy table was, but there was in the corner of the living room a small, plain, green table. It didn’t look damaged to us, and we had accepted it along with all the other furniture in the suite when we moved in. We used it for a record player. Calls were not terribly helpful, but finally a letter arrived telling us that the table legs had been illegally shortened.

I tell this cautionary tale because we soon realized that damaged furniture meant charges, but missing furniture fell between the bureaucratic cracks. We discovered this fact when a neighbor stole one of our Yale-supplied armchairs for a party, broke it, and subsequently burned it in their fireplace. No charges were ever made.

There is a moral to this tale. If you break something, don’t fix it; get rid of the evidence. This is something mafia dons know and our politicians need to learn.

Richard W. Chapman ’51, ’56MArch
Tucson, AZ

Several Yale alumni have contributed their own tales of articles stolen from Yale. To read their accounts and review the evidence—photographs—go to yalealumnimagazine.com/extras/chair/.—Eds.


Coeducation: not so bad

I write in response to “Driving Sideways” (January/February). My view of my education, in the infancy of Yale’s coeducational status, could not be any more different than the author’s. I graduated from a small-town high school, but I found I had the tools to compete and succeed. Three semesters at a Seven Sisters college sated the need for things womanly, and I was accepted to Yale as a transfer student.

The academic opportunities at Yale were, of course, outstanding, but the full range of life experiences were there to be had as well. No keys necessary: Yale’s doors were open to those who elected to walk through. By and large, my male classmates were welcoming and inclusive, and many were the evenings we sat in the dining hall drinking endless cups of coffee, debating everything and anything. Some of them became my teammates on the intramural crew (I was captain), grumbling at the practices in the crew tanks and celebrating our victory in the Tyng Cup challenge race at Mory’s. I had female friends as well, including my teammates on the sailing, squash, and tennis teams.

I felt then, and still feel today, that my Yale education enabled me to do anything. I was not limited to women in my choice of mentors, role models, and topics of study, but was open to the world of possibilities—free to pick and choose what suited me. Yale had, and continues to offer, a fabulous education and life experience; they are there for the taking.

Aina Julianna Gulya ’74
Locust Grove, VA


The role of sports

I write to support President Levin’s wisdom in whittling away at Yale College admissions slots reserved for varsity athletes (“The Evolution of Yale Sports,” September/October 2010). In the raft of one-sided critiques that appeared in the January/February letters, one alumnus asserted that “successful sports teams are essential to a vibrant campus, an engaged alumni body and a supportive New Haven community.” How is that, exactly?

Directly contradicting the hoary assumption that winning teams enhance campus life, social science data show that college athletes drink more alcohol and are more prone to sexual abuse than their non-competing peers. At Yale, meanwhile, athletics may entertain many and enhance participants’ health or character, but at what cost to other class- and community-building goals? As for New Haven, does the city benefit more from Yale Bowl rowdiness or from access to high-quality, affordable theater, concerts, student tutors, and other amenities Yale’s presence offers?

If we want admissions to benefit the city, then set slots aside for visionaries like J. B. Schramm ’86, who founded College Summit for underprivileged kids. If symphony orchestras, philosophy journals, and robotics clubs competed in stadiums, perhaps we’d see Ivy League set-asides for their members, too. Until then, what’s the point in reserving precious admissions turf for any one group—in particular, that with the least direct benefit to Yale’s main mission of educating minds?

Mandy Katz ’85
Bethesda MD


As our annual (2006 seems a happy blip) defeat by Harvard in The Game fades into history’s dustbin, there appears to be an unhappy congruity between the facts of the case and the character of its six-page coverage (“Driving Sideways,” January/February).

Last I heard, football is one of Yale’s major sports and presumably deserves coverage equal in character to hockey or women’s volleyball. Yet ritually it now receives a variously amused, not to say snide, annual report from the Age of Irony, perfectly attuned, perhaps, to President Levin’s evident comfort in passive de-emphasis of the sport, notwithstanding the recent upgrading of the Yale Bowl and its related facilities. I have to hope that this accomplishment will serve less as a museum and more as the site of future glories.

One has to assume Harvard is enjoying its access to the full allotment of athletic slots allowed by the Ivy League. Coach Tim Murphy has completed 17 seasons in Cambridge, which include two undefeated teams, 12 victories over Yale, and ten straight seasons with seven or more wins. His former quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick now leads the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

Don Gordon ’56
Santa Fe, NM


The sports featured in the magazine’s Sporting Life section are usually those that have had winning seasons (or significant news, such as Tom Williams’s hire as football coach). We do cover the Yale-Harvard football game primarily as a social and cultural event, because it is a quasi-reunion for so many alumni.—Eds.

I’m not happy to read the positions of some regarding Yale’s sports performance. Is not education the overriding purpose of the university? How should the school set its priorities? Sports scoring by Yale vs. Harvard? Or accomplishments of graduates in government, commerce, arts, science, medicine, and academia?

Ralph Bernstein ’45WE
Dayton, OH


Singapore concerns

Each time I read about Yale’s proposed joint venture in Singapore (“Singapore Spinoff,” November/December 2010), I grow more concerned. Two aspects of this initiative and its promotion strike me as most troubling. The first is Yale’s disingenuous defense of the oxymoron of a liberal arts college within the territory and under the control of an authoritarian state notorious for its intolerance of dissent. The second is Yale’s self-satisfied defense of “Yale Light,” an overseas expansion free of cost or risk. The two rationalizations are mutually inconsistent.

If Yale management is genuinely committed to leading the internationalization of education, why not dissolve the Yale College limit on foreign students?

Russell Sunshine ’64
Umbria, Italy


In regard to the proposed establishment of the Singapore spinoff, I’m solidly opposed to the idea.

Rather than anything to do with Singapore itself, or the caliber of the National University of Singapore, my staunch stance stems from my belief that the Yale name should be reserved exclusively for that unique, highly respected educational institution, known for its elite faculty, sky-high academic standards, and widely diverse student body, which is located in New Haven, Connecticut.

Put another way, under any circumstances would Steve Jobs allow any Apple products to be marketed in conjunction with any other company name?

Susan B. Kross ’75
Dairyland, NY



In a list of Yale alumni in the United States Senate ("Alumni by the Numbers," January/February), we omitted Senator Bill Nelson '65, Democrat of Florida.

In a Light & Verity item ("Virtual Valkyries," January/February), we misspelled the name of a character in the opera Das Rheingold. The character's name is Froh, not Floh.

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