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Losing LS 1

I was dismayed to read in the spring Scope that Liberal Studies 1 has been replaced by the more run-of-the-mill “first-year seminar” smattering of courses. LS 1 has always stuck out in my memory as a fundamental element of what it meant to be educated in the liberal-arts tradition at Skidmore. Yes, now students can take courses on topics in which they already possess an interest, but LS 1 exposed us to ideas we didn’t yet know were interesting. More importantly, it taught us that education was not an isolated endeavor, for it gave us both a common ground of experience and an understanding that all knowledge is interrelated as an aspect of the human condition. Indeed I hope to influence Dickinson College, where I teach, to move away from our current style of introductory seminars to something modeled after Skidmore’s own integrated curriculum.

Recently President Glotzbach sent alumni his vision statement for Skidmore, and it is one which I applaud. It affirms the essential connectedness of subject matter and the importance of shared experiences in a community of learners. LS 1 was vital in providing both of these to Skidmore students. It is a shame to see Skidmore’s ideals at such odds with its actual conditions.

Jessica Wahman ’90
Carlisle, Pa.

Entirely left-leaning

I have always been proud of my Skidmore experience and my alumni status. However, that has changed. First, I read in the winter Scope (“Both Sides Now”) that Professor Sheldon Solomon (a man whose intellectual ability I admired) is quoted as saying, “I’d like to thank the Future Fascists of America for decorating the hall this evening.” Then I saw an events list including a visit by [liberal activist] Tom Hayden; [two movies about the McCarthy era;] an interview with Bob Edwards, former NPR host and author of a book on Edward R. Murrow; and a concert of “music that was the target of repression, persecution, or censorship or that expressed the human desire for freedom.”

When I decided to attend Skidmore, I knew full well that I was going to a liberal-arts college. I enjoyed gaining a different perspective, engaging in constructive discourse, being given several sides to an argument, and then being allowed to formulate my own opinion in an environment conducive to development. While the majority of the courses, speakers, and events were to the left of center, I looked at them with an open mind and felt free to participate. But I was appalled [by this recent events listing]: the schedule is laughable in regard to offering differing viewpoints. It is entirely left-leaning, if not ultra-left.

Since graduation I have not been paying close attention to the way things have been developing at Skidmore. I erred; I should have been. The place I remember fondly for being an institution of creativity and open-mindedness is no more.

Andrew Russell ’03
Irvine, Calif.

Privilege and heritage

I graduated from one of the colleges cited on Sue Rosenberg’s worst-team-mascot list [“Periscope,” winter Scope] because they reflect “the sociology of privilege and heritage.” But why would the shortened name of Ephraim Williams [founder of my alma mater], who gave his life in defense of what would become the United States, and who provided the money and direction to start a small school for ministers in Massachusetts, cause such disdain? (By the way, Colonel Williams was killed in an Indian ambush in 1755 near Fort Edward, which is only a stone’s throw from Skidmore, in South Glens Falls.) If “Eph” should be banished for the good of our culture, then [so should] Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Rockefeller, Ford, Edison, Carnegie…

The Wombats would have been a great mascot for Skidmore, but sadly the students wussed out. Not the Williams student body, who chose the Purple Cows back in 1907. That act alone should be self-deprecating enough to provide us with a pass on the Ephs nickname. If she’s never seen the marching Purple Cow band during a Williams football game, Ms. Rosenberg should treat herself to a chuckle and get a firsthand look at the “sociology of privilege and heritage” that causes her sleepless nights—maybe it will help her step down off her high horse (or T’bred, as the case may be).

But just to prove that even Williams students are not perfect, I well remember one of my roommates holding up a sign in an effort to get to Skidmore one weekend; it read: “Need a ride to Saratoga Springs.”

Scott Hopkins
Chicago, Ill.