Letters Moore memories, Katrina victims neglected, The "liberal" in liberal studies
Periscope Workplace indiscrimination
Ad Lib A little tact
The Moore Hall “episodes” (summer Scope) were fun to read, but I was disappointed not to see
any from the 1960s.
My roommate and I drew a particularly low number in the room lottery and became the only sophomores there (everyone else being juniors and seniors). For me, the charm of Skidmore was the Victorian buildings, the intimacy of small dorms; at Moore Hall I was just one of many. But
I learned to play bridge there and eat Mama Riscutti’s sub sandwiches (the freshman fifteen soon became the sophomore twenty—but that’s another story).
I also remember making a call from the floor phone booth to congratulate my sister on the birth
of her twins. I put tons of change in, and after I hung up the phone, all my change came back. I
am still convinced the operator was listening and decided that such a special occasion merited a treat.
But my most vivid memory was November 22, 1963—exactly two months after my nephews’ births. We were playing bridge in the smoker (floor lounge) directly off the elevator. Someone got off the elevator and said President Kennedy was dead. As the shock hit us, I wandered to the window
and watched the students and faculty leaving class, telling one another. You could tell who had
just found out by watching their walk, all heads down, slowing down from the usual pace. It is a day I will never forget.
Nancy Nathanson Freedman ’66
North Caldwell, N.J.
I lived in Moore Hall the first two years that it was open, and was president of the dorm in the second year. Life was very comfortable there. I especially remember having our windows open on fall nights and hearing “And they’re off!” from the trotting track. It’s hard to believe that it was
such a long time ago.
Toni Levin Smith ’60 West Orange, N.J
Katrina victims neglected
I was most interested in ”Lasting Impact” (spring Scope), as I also went to work for Common Ground Collective in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit. I drove down with my daughter some time after the Skidmore students, but I have the same feeling that Howie Austin ’06 had
when he stated, “I hope it was actually doing some good.”
By the time I arrived there, Common Ground was quite disorganized. All these months later, the Ninth Ward still had practically no cleanup efforts. This is the area from which a lot of residents initially went to the Superdome, where they were also neglected.
I asked a local marine from the Ninth Ward if he’d ever seen anything like the destruction caused by the storm and flood. He replied, “Yes, I was in the first wave to go into Iraq, and it is much
worse there.” I am ashamed to be an American whose government spends billions on an illegal war but can’t begin to help our own citizens. When will America come together and right the wrongs inflicted on all the citizens of the Gulf Coast tragedy?
Mary Sinon Sayer ’43
The "liberal " in liberal studies
“Liberal learning,” a phrase at risk of becoming hackneyed, still describes the kind of education Skidmore seeks to offer. In response to the [summer Scope] letter “Losing LS 1,” I would point out that the decision to replace Liberal Studies 1 was not easy—the faculty debated the issue through
out 2004—but an overwhelming majority voted for the change. For most of its history, the LS curriculum inspired passion in both faculty and students, but that level of commitment was no longer felt in its last years, so a new course was charted to reinvigorate the classroom for our
The new program has preserved many of the finest features of LS 1—opportunities for collaborative teaching, a summer reading, a robust co-curricular program, and the participation of older
students as peer mentors. Our common experience may no longer be a shared syllabus, but we
do have an agreed-upon set of goals that we hope will help all first-year students hone their critical-thinking skills.
In reply to the letter “Entirely Left-leaning,” I acknowledge that the spring 2006 events series included a talk by liberal activist Tom Hayden and other lectures and performances that, at first blush, might seem to resonate only with liberal politics. But a closer look at the “Freedom from Fear” discussions would reveal a considerable range of historical and political perspectives on the McCarthy era. Skidmore’s strategic plan describes learning as an initiation “into that fraternity
and sorority of the human community, unbounded by time and space, whose members have experienced the power of ideas in their own lives.” In short, we embrace the exploration of the
full spectrum of ideas irrespective of ideology.
I invite the writers of both letters
to visit the campus and explore first-hand the college’s commitment to the free and unfettered exchange of ideas that, according to Skidmore’s Mission Statement, “prepare[s] liberally educated graduates…[who will] make the choices required of informed, responsible citizens.”
Associate Professor of Classics and
Director of the First-Year Experience