The Colgate Scene
|The Colgate Scene welcomes letters from readers. We reserve the right to edit letters for brevity and clarity.||
. . . I was misquoted in the Scene as saying that our fraternities are "bars without brotherhood" (Letters, March). I didn't make those comments; I don't believe either point. Colgate's fraternity brotherhood is, for the most part, quite strong.
Fraternities and sororities were founded on many honorable ideals -- including brotherhood and sisterhood, scholarship and philanthropy -- most of which are valid today. And I believe that most of Colgate's fraternities and sororities are living up to those ideals.
I do worry, however, that some of our fraternities focus too many of their efforts on alcohol-related social activities. Alcohol abuse among college students is an epidemic that did not avoid striking Colgate. According to several national research studies, the highest level of alcohol abuse takes place among fraternity members and in fraternity houses. To address that phenomenon, several national fraternities have "gone dry," including Phi Delta Theta, Theta Chi, Sigma Nu and Phi Gamma Delta. Other laudable efforts are being made by many students, staff and alumni to address this vexing problem.
I and the members of my staff look forward to working with a variety of student groups, including sororities and fraternities, to broaden and deepen social opportunities on campus.
Why no Beta?
. . . The review in the March Scene of the movie Super Troopers -- a movie written, acted and produced by Colgate alumni -- made no mention of the fact that had it not been for their membership in Beta Theta Pi, there would have been no acting group and no movie. The article did say that "the comedy troupe has its roots at Colgate" and quoted Kevin Heffernan '90 as saying, "There are so many smart and funny people that go to Colgate -- that's how we got together." True enough but beside the point.
February 8th's Maroon-News quoted Kevin as saying "without Beta, we wouldn't have been able to do what we've done." The article then went on to say "the close relationships fostered at Beta Theta Pi have led to a solid, productive and enjoyable working relationship." This is the point.
The Scene article also mentions the group's first film, Puddle Cruiser, released in 1996. Again, Beta was instrumental in this production by making the house available for the acting group and production staff during the summer of 1995 when the movie was filmed on campus. And, the friendly, fraternal rental rate was especially helpful to Kevin and crew.
I contacted your office to find out why mention of Beta's involvement with this group and this film was not mentioned by the Scene and I was told that "the question never came up" during Kevin's interview with your reporter. This seemed unlikely to me, so I contacted Kevin, whom I have known since he was an undergraduate and house president, and he advises that "we did do a more extensive roundtable interview with the Scene and Maroon which actually included a question re: our opinion of fraternities. To which we replied that despite present criticism of the fraternity/sorority system, we wouldn't be where we are without our fraternity experience." He then went on to say in an e-mail, "It's a pretty good deal when you can make a living 10 to 12 years later with your fraternity brothers." Thus, you were misinformed by your reporter as to what was said when the Super Troopers troupe was interviewed.
A letter to the same March issue of the Scene has Dean Cappeto saying to an alumni group "that fraternities are just bars without brotherhood." Mike assures me that he never said any such thing and that he will be sending his own letter to the Scene to straighten out the matter. When I called him he also said that "of course fraternities are full of brotherhood." I'm sure he would agree that Super Troopers is a good case in point.
I am sorry (sort of) to be so long-winded in my reaction to the Super Trooper article. However, the Scene had a chance to demonstrate what fraternities, at base, are all about -- friendship and fidelity. The Greek system has fostered benefits for Colgate for about 150 years while at the same time providing a social outlet for the campus at large, leadership training and job experience for its members, a control mechanism for the powers that be and strong, tangible "lifelong connectedness" -- a present goal of the Colgate Alumni Corporation.
(Editor's note: Any errors made in conversation with Mr. Hatcher were the responsibility of the editor, not a reporter, at the Scene.)
. . . Hunt [Terrell] (March) was for many of us the paradigm of college professors -- challenging, supportive, smart and excited about his work. Not only was it an honor to know him, he made each of us feel he was honored to know us. He walked the campus with a spring in his step and a twinkle in his eye. He made us better students by the energy he brought to his subject and his visible love of the exchange of ideas. He was among the few professors, perhaps the only one, we called by his first name to his face and by his title and last name, Professor Terrell, in discussions with others. He earned the respect but preferred the camaraderie.
I dozed through lots of classes with lots of professors whose names I don't even recall, but I will remember sitting in the second-floor corner room of Lathrop, in ethics class, matching wits with Hunt, losing badly and coming away feeling wiser, stronger and happier for the experience.
Hunt's teachings lurk, mainly, below the surface for me, not presenting themselves or acting as discernable motivations in my day-to-day life. He helped teach me to think and to consider myself in the context of my environment and relations with others, rather than as an independent observer above the fray. He helped me to form an understanding that we all must contribute to society without keeping score to keep society running.
He was a life-changer and a voice crying in the wilderness to take up the cause of public morality as a life calling. I am sure many who lived at Peace House during the two years I did -- as well as many others -- were called to public service, to civil disobedience, or to the cause of placing their lives in the path of society for the protection of those who can't protect themselves. Hunt was not alone among the factors adducing these responses, but he was foremost among them. His legacy is rich, enduring and life affirming at both an individual and societal levels.
The very best
. . . I was genuinely moved by the remarks made by Jerry Balmuth, an old friend whom I deeply respect, concerning the death of Hunt Terrell, about whom I harbor similar sentiments.
I did not know Hunt well as a student, never having taken a course with him. However, in the spring of 1961, he was taking some post-doctoral work at Princeton and living in the Graduate College. I was a doctoral candidate in history then. We became fast friends and would dine together frequently.
Hunt combined a contagious love of learning with the highest ethical and moral commitment. For him philosophy, and ethics in particular, involved changing the world to make it a more livable and humane place. There was no kinder or more civilized human being. He embodied the very best values of our college, both as alumnus and faculty member. .
. . . Why be an English major? Easy. So you can write like Jane Pinchin, Colgate's interim president, whose letters to the university's key audiences read like someone real, imaginative and intelligent composed them. In all the years since I left Colgate, I can never remember communications being so bright, clear and generous. Connecting with any group today is daunting, but Pinchin succeeds, looking comfortable in her own skin and in her own voice. Her letters are a wonderful surprise of recent months.
. . . The January Scene articles and letters on diversity shook loose a lot of memories of my first year at Colgate. It may be hard to believe, but for some of us, Colgate was truly an ex-perience in diversity. Having grown up 40 miles south of Hamilton, in an all-white, all-Christian town of 5,000 (in other words, a typical upstate New York town), I was looking forward to broader horizons.
The most poignant memory in this regard was from the fraternity rush experience. I was pursued by, and interested in, two final fraternity choices. One was Phi Tau, the other shall remain nameless. At the final hour, the "other" invited me to one of the upstairs rooms to close the deal. Well, the deal was closed when one brother said, "Why would you want to join Phi Tau? They're the United Nations of Fraternity Row." I thanked them and went to Phi Tau, where I promptly committed to join.
And the U.N. it was. We had Protestants, Christians, Jews, whites, blacks, Chinese and Indians. Jocks and scholars. Small-town kids and big-city kids. I'll never forget my weekend visit to [classmate] Ira Haspel's apartment in the Bronx. I thought I'd traveled to a different planet! And it worked both ways. Tom Tucker '67, from Long Island, asked me if my hometown had paved streets. (It did.) No, Phi Tau was not the Partridge Family. There were cliques just like everywhere else in life. But it was a great experience.
I will refrain from moralizing, but will say that this experience just whetted my appetite to continue to broaden my horizons. A 30-year career in the computer industry took me to over 30 countries, and I certainly enjoyed the variety of people I met along the way. Just as I did when I joined the "U.N. of Fraternity Row."
Bill Hieber remembered
. . . I regret to report the passing of my good friend, William G. Hieber Jr. '58 of Garden City, N.Y. and New York City on March 31, 2002. Bill was an economics major and served as president of Kappa Delta Rho fraternity while at Colgate. He was active in campus publications, including The Maroon, as well as several other clubs and organizations. He was also a member of the London Economics Study Group. His leadership abilities were recognized by such honors as his membership in Konosioni and Phi Beta Kappa. A loyal alumnus, Bill is a member in perpetuity of the Presidents' Club.
After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1961, Bill followed his interest in finance and became a stockbroker and analyst. At the time of his death, he was president of the firm he co-founded in 1972, Shoen-berg, Hieber Inc., in New York City.
I attended Bill's private burial, where I expressed my family's condolences and those of the university to his wife, Jean, and his daughters, Jennifer, Colgate Class of 1991, and Christina.
Contributions may be made to The Hieber Family Scholarship, in memory of William G. Hieber Jr., Colgate University, attn: Patricia Caprio, 13 Oak Dr, Hamilton, N.Y. 13346. A memorial service will be held in June, details of which will be available through Mrs. Caprio's office.
The friends Bill made at Colgate are true to this day. He will be missed.
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