The Colgate Scene ON-LINE

The Colgate Scene invites responsible letters, addressed to the editor, regarding any subject that may be considered of interest to the Colgate community. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity.

Submit a letter via e-mail here.

Thank you, Helen
. . . I was extremely moved to hear that Helen Sperling is still opening eyes and hearts through her personal account of the Holocaust. In 1983, I had the privilege of taking Terence Des Pres' class on the Holocaust, which marked my life. Helen was an integral part of that, and I still remember the tears she brought to our eyes that day, and am often reminded of the profound effect her quiet dignity had on my life. Thank you, Helen.

Professor Steven Kepnes in his article asks what we can do to change the world. When I graduated in 1984, Elie Wiesel spoke to us in the Chapel. He asked, "Why did no one cry out in 1929? Why did no one cry out in 1939? If someone had said `no, this is unacceptable,' millions may have survived. You must have the courage to speak out." Therein lies the answer. We must learn, from people like Helen and Elie, that we must have the courage to protest, even in small, private ways. Today, most people I work with know that I do not tolerate racist jokes, and when people make anti-Semitic comments, we quietly remind them that my great-grandfather was Jewish, despite my name. My children are being raised in the same tradition of tolerance and respect of other cultures and intolerance of racism in all its forms. Still, too many people remain quiet, and, as all holocaust or genocide victims would tell you if they were alive, silence is complicity in its most insidious form. It is to participate in the perpetuation of the crime, as surely as if you took a gun and shot a victim yourself.

We can make a difference. It is not comfortable. It is not convenient. In some settings, perversely, it is not even socially acceptable. But should Colgate teach nothing else, I hope it still strives to teach the blessing of respect and tolerance of other people and their cultures, and to teach its students to have the courage and wisdom to stand by their convictions.

São Paulo, Brazil

Too early
. . . The college basketball season is over and also for many of the professional teams like the Golden State Warriors. It has been a sad season in northern California because of two issues. First, the Golden State Warriors would have had a difficult time with any of the 64 teams in the NCAA tournament. Second, and more difficult, is to witness a fine young student-athlete try to perform in a league for which he was not ready. Adonal Foyle has played in less than two-thirds of the games and for hardly more than several minutes per game for the Warriors.

Foyle is a classic case of an athlete coming out of the college ranks before he is ready. So what do we sports fans have? A college that could have had a better team if Foyle had finished his senior year and we would not have to bear the agony of the Warriors' and Foyle's struggle through a dismal season. All student-athletes should look at this season and what the risks are for leaving college early for the pros -- the money is not worth it.

Turlock, CA

Adonal Foyle responds
. . . I thank Mr. Torrens for his concern for my welfare and that of other students. Let me reassure him. I went to Colgate because of its academic reputation and the ability of Coach Bruen, may God rest his soul, to teach me the game. This was the best decision of my life. Academically I was in heaven. I reluctantly left after my junior year, not because of the money (and mind, you it's a lot) but because Colgate no longer provided the serious training that was necessary for my basketball development.

I was sterotyped as a big man with no skills beyond three feet from the basket. The constant double, triple and quadruple teaming in the Patriot League stymied the further development of my craft. I needed to develop as a power forward, which is the position I now play in the NBA.

Yes, it is true that my first year in the league, like that of many rookies, had its difficult times. For me these included a foot injury, subsequent surgery, and its psychological impact, the choking of my coach and the adjustment to a new way of life. But this year is a disappointment only to the untrained eye. Beneath the statistics and erratic playing time is a more profound and exciting phenomenon. In all the chaos, I became a better basketball player. In the agony of defeat, I became a functioning adult -- a business man, a maid, a student, a chef and a father to my younger brother. And I am well on my way to completing my remaining college credits and graduating from Colgate.

My adversity did not destroy me; instead it made me stronger and wiser. I practiced with some of the best players in the world (who, by the way, could easily trounce any of the 64 NCAA tournament teams) and learned a great deal about my game. Leaving Colgate when I did was the most difficult decision of my life. It was not popular, but as individuals we must make decisions that only we can vouch for. I know I made the right one. And, more importantly, it's mine.


Profound influence
. . . I was delighted to read Dr. Morris' retrospective notes on Dr. M. Holmes Hartshorne's collection of lectures and sermons (May Scene). Professor Hartshorne had a profound influence on me at Colgate; not because I was a talented scholar, but because he required me to think and to feel in ways that were new and exciting.

My favorite memory of Professor Hartshorne is from Winter Party Weekend, 1963. As a freshman, I was lost and forlorn, trying to fit in, trying to meet other people's expectations. My date for the weekend was a girl from my high school class and we had gone to the fraternity parties, drunk the beer and found a way to decide we were destined to be good friends.

On Sunday morning we attended the chapel service along with 40 or 50 other stiffs. Professor Hart-shorne was scheduled to preach and as he stepped to the pulpit he quietly said, "I'd like to talk with you today about loneliness." His sermon was about the integrity of self and how we permitted erosion of that integrity by expediency. The Chapel was silent and I thought of all those who probably should have been there that morning.

There were several things that Professor Hartshorne taught that have stayed with me over the years, but none touched my core as much as that simple sermon. Those that remember winter parties from the mid-'60s will understand that there is no more perfect time to talk about loneliness than the Sunday morning of such a weekend.

My memories of Professor Hartshorne are of an unbending teacher and a man who lived without pretense. My ideals of teaching always center around Steve Hartshorne, for he taught me about context.

Hopkinton, MA

Major issues
. . . The arrival of the Presidents' Club Dinner invitation and Class of '53 Reunion credentials spurred me to mention some major issues which I feel need addressing. Presidents' Club Dinner: In 1997 during the dessert course, I wandered out to the gent's and passed the table seating card area. I was staggered by the number of unclaimed seats (close to 100).

I remembered that all of us who said "yes" had received a thank-you note a week before the event asking us to please get in touch if we were unable to come. With that in mind, I was astonished at both the bad manners of the no-shows and their lack of understanding of the economic impact. Dinners at the Waldorf don't come cheap.

Colgate has probably done all they can do about this on the "nice" end of the scale and should now take the bull by the horns. Either take credit card numbers and charge the no-shows, or charge everybody to come. The people who want to come won't be put off by either of these tactics (I favor the latter) and the "I'll say yes to anything as long as it's free" gang won't say yes in either case. The result will be less waste of Colgate money and staff time plus attendance by the core people who care a lot more about the university and being together than caging (or not caging) a free dinner and drinks. Believe me, nobody who really loves our school will be put off for one moment by an honest attempt to make all your guests accountable and responsible.

Colgate Reunions: Having attended all my reunions and seen the price escalate over the years, I was still shocked by the 1998 cost for three days (including class uniforms and three nights in the dorm). A price of $512 per couple seems over the top -- particularly for those who also have to fly in and then rent a car. Again, those who love Colgate will pay, but if the university wants to get disaffected or wandering alumni into the tent (pun intended), this price has little appeal.

I was surprised to find Colgate also requires all reunions to be totally self-supporting. In checking with alumni of other schools, I found this is not necessarily the norm. Believing the campus and its inhabitants are usually a school's best showcase, they subsidize return to some extent, with housing, for example.

It would seem particularly important for Colgate to do the same. To appeal to those who haven't returned either physically or financially -- in the hopes of starting a meaningful dialogue -- a visit to Hamilton would be the logical first step. After all, many of us decided to come to Colgate partially based on the magic of seeing it for the first time. Part of that magic may well remain.

Yours for more targeted marketing,

Briarcliff Manor, NY