The Colgate Scene
July 2001
Table of contents
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.

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First impressions
. . . I was pleased to read the Planning Committee Report (March 2001) and related articles, especially as they applied to Section IV, Environment. I have also read with interest recent issues with respect to Colgate's attempt to improve the appearance of the village.

     In the report it states, among other things, that "Our success in attracting the very best students, faculty and staff is greatly influenced by the first impression that they have when visiting the area." I could not agree more.

     Unfortunately, the first impression of prospective students, their parents and others who stay at the Colgate Inn could be nothing but the very worst impression.

     I recall that when I was assistant managing editor of The Maroon, I wrote a scathing article about the Inn, which unfortunately has not improved, at least not at the time I last visited the campus two years ago. At that time I also happened to read a review of the dining facilities in the Syracuse newspaper that was most damning, and rightly deserved.

     Persons I have spoken with who have visited the college for the first time and had the unfortunate experience of staying overnight at the Inn were equally appalled. The fact that the university owns the Inn makes it even more unforgivable that an all-out effort has not been made to completely renovate the Inn, or perhaps raze it and start anew.

     In addition to improving the buildings in the village, the great expanse of macadam where the five streets converge could be vastly improved should this eyesore be submitted to a first-class city planner.

     Again, I am delighted that the university has at long last recognized the need to enhance the look of the village so that it may be as beautiful as the magnificent college campus.

Alexandria, VA

Campus culture
. . . I am pleased and encouraged to hear that the Board of Trustees has resolved to undertake an in-depth review of campus culture. However, I am afraid that the newly formed task force will produce nothing but a boiler-plate report and the continued support for the status quo that such a white-washing implies.

     As Professor Bolland's letter in the March Scene so eloquently explains, any investigation of campus culture must include an examination of the history and current role of the fraternity system. But the editor's note responding to Professor Bolland's letter does not even address his point -- in fact, the word fraternity is not even mentioned. Rather, it states that the Board of Trustees is "aware that the aberrant actions of a few students can have a negative impact on campus life." This "few bad apples" argument signals to me that the fraternity system itself still retains a good deal of its sacred-cow status.

     In Professor Bolland's words, "It is plausible, at least, that any organizations that emphasize a hyper-macho culture may be linked to the perpetuation of some of the negative aspects of our campus culture. If not, then there's nothing to hide." I sincerely hope that the task force will include an examination of the Greek system. If it does not, it will have reached its conclusions on this integral part of campus culture before it even begins to meet. It will also have betrayed the spirit of open inquiry that I expect of a liberal arts institution of Colgate's caliber.

Madison, NJ

Vivid memory
. . . The most vivid memories that I have of Colgate are from my freshman year. Here's one from Psych 101 during the second semester, 1968. The class was held in the auditorium classroom in McGregory Hall, and I am guessing that there were somewhere around 150 students. Several teachers taught this intro class and Doc Edmonston was teaching. It is important to remember that Colgate was an all-male school at the time. I was (am) glad when Colgate went coed, but I wonder if the event would have precipitated the same response if the class had been coed.

     We had been studying various schools of psychotherapy and were shown a movie near the end of the unit that depicted several different therapists working with the same client (an attractive woman in her 30s). The final therapist to work with her was Carl Rogers, and he was using his humanistic approach of "unconditional positive regard." When the intervention was completed, the camera showed a dissolve followed by a closeup of Rogers. The scene revealed Rogers with his shirt unbuttoned and sweat glistening on his face. Everyone in the class drew the same unlikely conclusion, and we all erupted simultaneously in laughter. It went on endlessly, and I do not know if I have ever felt as close to any group of people as I did in that magical moment. As we used to say in the '60s, it was a happening. Strangely, I do not think that I ever talked to anyone about it. If anyone was a part of that Psych 101 class in 1968, please drop me a line (, as I would still like to process the event with someone.

Hampton, NH

Profound impact
. . . Ever since I met him in a survey of French literature class in September 1966, Ross Ferlito has had a profound impact on my professional and personal lives. It was my freshman year and I thought I had been placed at too high a level. My brain went numb hearing everyone else rattling away in what seemed like native French. But I persisted, with Ross's encouragement, and ended up completing a French concentration and studying in Dijon with the first of many groups that Ross would accompany to France. I then went on to complete a Ph.D. in French literature with a minor in Italian, a language Ross introduced me to during a Jan Plan.

     Ross Ferlito's example as both an inspiring teacher and devoted family man has had an indelible impact on me. Each time I take a group of students to France, I bring my family along, as Ross always did, and I remember with great fondness dinners and classes at his apartment where I felt less alone in a new country. Ross and his extraordinary wife Malva made me realize that it was possible and even preferable to bring the same kind of commitment and care to their teaching and their students that they brought to raising their children.

     In conclusion, I have had other amazing Colgate teachers whom I have written about in the past, but none has affected me so completely as a human being as Ross Ferlito.

Knoxville, TN

. . . I would like to make a somewhat pedantic correction to the article by Nan De Vries in the May Scene. The article begins with a statement about W.B. Yeats's death, and the reaction, in poetry, by "his friend" W.H. Auden. The article then quotes from Auden's elegy to Yeats, "In Memory of W.B. Yeats." In fact, Yeats and Auden were not friends. They met on a few occasions, but didn't think too much of each other, personally or poetically. In fact, later in life, Auden stated that Yeats "stands for everything I try to avoid in my poetry." While both Auden and Yeats number among the outstanding poets of the 20th century, and despite, I would argue, the many similarities in some of their poetry (and despite Auden's grumblings), to call them friends is patently false. Auden's elegy to Yeats is not a lament on the loss of a friend, but rather, in part, an attempt to explore the significance of the elder poet through one of the poetic forms (the elegy) that Yeats, in his own work, redefined.

     I realize that Ms. De Vries's point was not about poetry; still, it seems important, when invoking these names and the ideas they represent, and particularly when doing so in an academic community, to strive for accurate representation.

Norwich, England

Wants an answer
. . . What was the point of running a letter from Gus Nasmith '39 in the May Scene questioning the theological credentials of Al Sharpton if there was no answer?

New York

Editor's note: Rev. Al Sharpton began preaching at age four and was ordained as a Pentecostal minister. The New York Times, Associated Press and several other leading news organizations refer to Sharpton as a reverend. The Scene is not alone.

Who sponsors speakers?
. . . Is it possible to learn who sponsored Hurricane Carter as one to address Colgate students and what he was paid? I assume he was paid, for he was not known as a charitable figure in Paterson, NJ.

     He was known to the police who have a lengthy record on him. I believe mugging was a specialty. And what was the source of the caption writer's view that he was "wrongfully accused of murder?" Whatever did the caption writer think that Carter and John Ardis were doing in that bar in downtown Paterson at 2 a.m. on the day of the murder -- conducting a prayer meeting? Carter was convicted in each of his trials. Does the caption writer hold that the courts were corrupt?

     While I'm on it, what big thinker on campus decided that Dan Rather would bring a scholarly dignity to campus as commencement speaker? Rather has already apologized to his immediate superiors for being a mouthpiece for the Democratic National Committee while posing as a newsman. He's so biased the path to the podium will have to be on a slant.

Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ

Editor's note: Carter was brought to campus by the Colgate Activity Board of the Student Activities Office. Commencement speakers are nominated by students and selected by a committee of trustees and faculty. Both Carter and Rather gave well-received speeches.
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