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letters

Political (imbalance)

The winter Scope’s feature “Both Sides Now” seeks to dispel the college’s reputation as a “liberal bastion,” but facts are indeed stubborn things. Conservative-minded students really are few and far between, and while they may be tolerated, they are not mentored. How could they be when there are no conservative faculty on campus? Dean of Student Affairs Pat Oles is quoted as saying, with shocking bluntness, “Almost everyone I know here is a liberal.” Then he questions “what relevance that has to teaching or the educational experience.” Imagine our reaction if his question had followed an observation like this: “Almost everyone I know here is white.”
Professor Ron Seyb’s endeavor to “take our conservative students’ concerns seriously” is not enough. A true liberal education will not be available at Skidmore until the college makes hiring faculty with diverse political ideas a priority.

Andrea Fenton Campbell ’68
Delhi, N.Y.


As a conservative Republican with an open mind, I believe there is a need to foster discourse on the benefits of both a liberal-arts community and an arts-and-humanities curriculum. Accurate, factual knowledge on both sides of the spectrum is essential, and with the right set of courses (the addition of a library science degree would be marvelous), Skidmore students could very well advance in the academic world as well as the business arena. May there be an open forum about such matters, and let the constructive efforts begin!

Barbara McCroskery Martenson Hunter ’74
Port Charlotte, Fla.

[After reading “Both Sides Now”]
I am stunned that conservative campaigner David Horowitz is pushing for a concerted effort to hire conservative faculty in greater numbers. In my dictionary, “conservative” and “advocate for affirmative action” do not appear on the same page. I think Mr. Horowitz needs to shift his priorities elsewhere.

On the subject of misplaced priorities, “Making the Team” [“Periscope”]
is just screaming for additional commentary. College athletics has problems with low graduation rates, illegal payoffs, drug use, and rampant gambling—and the NCAA takes the brave (pardon the pun) step of cracking down on politically incorrect mascots? A school naming its mascot after someone is a sign of admiration! You don’t see any teams named the Centerville Communists, Topeka Terrorists, or San Antonio Suicide Bombers. Next the NCAA will be cracking down on the reselling of tickets above their face value, not because it’s illegal, but because they are offended by the term “scalper.”

Wendell C. Arnold ’96
Newark, Calif.


What’s in a name?

“Making the Team” reminded me of my own experiences with team names:
• St. Louis Cardinals (As a kid in North Carolina, I was watching a baseball game with my father, when he told me that our state bird was “the cardinal, just like the team at bat.” I’ve been a Cardinals fan ever since.)
• University of North Carolina Tar Heels (There are charitable and not-so-charitable stories about the name’s origin: Either they fought as if there was tar on their heels, or their commanders needed to put tar on their heels to make them fight. Or there is the potential Civil War–era origin of the nickname, which is disturbing.)
• Cary Elementary School White Imps (Why “white,” I don’t know…or at least hope I don’t know.)
• Stetson University (Mad) Hatters
• University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (As powerful as native society is in Hawaii, I imagine there’s little objection to this sobriquet.)
• Lansing Lugnuts, a minor-league baseball club (They build—well, they used to—a lot of cars in the Lansing area.)

I wish Skidmore had kept the Wombats. I don’t see much difference between the Thoroughbreds and the Ephs or the Lords.

Rik Scarce
Assistant Professor of Sociology


Remembering Doblin

I was sorry to read in the fall 2005 Scope that Helga Doblin died. She remains one of my best memories of Skidmore. I knew her very little and yet, on some other level, she knew me very well.

I was a premed student, and she taught me my first year of German. I struggled with correct grammar and pronunciations, but I enjoyed her classes because she brought to them her unbounded enthusiasm and the courage of her convictions.

When I wrote a column supporting the 1965 Selma civil-rights march, I thought it nothing remarkable. But Frau Doblin commented on it in our next class, and said it took a lot of courage to write. I will never think that it did, but her respect meant a lot to me; I knew she did not hand out compliments routinely. Later, when I was accepted at medical school, she came up to me in the library and told me she was happy because she thought I would be “so good” at this. And she shook her head up and down with her usual intensity.

It wasn’t her approval that made a difference; it was her connection to human souls, which she seemed to see so well. I don’t think I ever spoke with her again, but the power of her perceptions did, and always will, mean a lot to me.

Jane Wuchinich ’67
East Glacier Park, Mont.