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I was intrigued by the article on John Lott (“Details,” Feb.). For the life of me, I cannot understand the academic “anger” at his work and at his very presence at Yale.

The article mentions the “conservative bias” that some charge he brings to his writings. I’m sorry, but what about the leftist bias that “riles” some of the Yale faculty when Lott is referred to as a “Yale professor”?

I’m pro-choice and pro-guns. When I first heard that Yale had hired Lott, I was very proud of the courage that took. But I’m also aware of the implied abhorrence of guns on the part of other faculty members. And I’m aware of the intense political struggles that occur behind closed doors in any academic institution.

I’m neither an extreme right-winger nor an extreme left-winger. I was happy when economist Thomas Sowell left Yale to find his true home at the Hoover Institute at Stanford. But I believe that Lott is an extraordinary individual who belongs at Yale. He would be a terrific permanent addition to its distinguished faculty. It would be an honor to refer to him as “professor.”


Alcohol Issues

All generalizations are false, especially those concerning the student body of Yale. The foremost strength of Yale’s student body is that its breadth makes it so difficult to characterize. Therefore, Kara Loewentheil’s article, “Why Do Yalies Drink So Much?” (Feb.), is simply asking for trouble.

Even by its formal definition of five drinks in a night, “binge drinking” is far from the only drinking at Yale, and even further from being the only social scene. Those students who routinely throw up or pass out due to alcohol are a very small minority, at least in the circles I’ve seen. Or maybe I just need some cooler friends.

I was sorry to read in Kara Loewentheil’s article that Yale students “cannot seem to accept the idea of just relaxing and consciously spending some time not thinking. It’s just not the Yale way. We don’t do yoga.”

Apparently Yale’s academic and social culture overemphasizes a form of Western rational and striving consciousness from which students seek relief in alcohol. I would hope that this great university could guide students to explore other modes of consciousness taught by various spiritual and meditative traditions.

Ideally, a Yale education could open students to ways of being that are broader than the limited choices of hyper-rationalism and drunkenness.

In reading Kara Loewentheil’s column, I was struck by one line in particular. While bemoaning binge drinking and the abuse of alcohol as dangerous and frightening ways to escape the enormous pressures in the Yale community, Lowentheil also asserts, “We don’t do yoga.”

I feel compelled to write and say that, in fact, Yale students “do yoga”—both regularly and in large numbers. During my 16 years of membership at the Payne Whitney Gym, yoga has never been as popular as it is now. Students craving escape from pressures, academic or otherwise, can attend no fewer than 14 yoga classes with eight different instructors every day of the week except Sunday.

Classes are always quickly filled when course registration is offered. On typical evenings, more than 80 students crowd into the sixth-floor exercise room to practice intense routines of sun salutations, triangles, shoulder stands, and the very Yale-sounding “proud warriors.” I’m sure that all these students would attest to the stress-relieving benefits of increased strength, flexibility, mental focus, and tranquility.

Yoga, not alcohol, is the best way I’ve found to take the mind out of high gear—and apparently many Yale students feel the same way.


Which ’60s?

I was intrigued by Carter Wiseman’s article on the Yale days of George W. Bush ’68 (“In the Days of DKE and S.D.S.”, Feb.). What is remarkable to me is how recollection and history become fused, and how the products of one man’s memory can become tacitly accepted as fact.

My recollections of those times differ. During Bush’s years at Yale, the University was in the early stages of making the transition from a somewhat insular finishing school of higher learning to a creative, urban University that questioned many of the core premises of society. Yale deserves credit for its role in being the first Ivy League college to actively engage the issues of civil rights and race, as well as the first to have an organized movement challenging the Vietnam War (Americans for the Reappraisal of Far Eastern Policy).

Allard Loewenstein and William Sloane Coffin Jr. were national figures during that time, and they profoundly shaped the conscience of the school and the country. This was also a time when student-faculty parties at the Art and Architecture building had punch bowl brews laced with LSD. Many classmates experimented with drugs, only to become lost to their friends and to themselves. The school was as unprepared as the students at that time; there was little counseling, and even less understanding.

There clearly was the other Yale—Fence Club, the “mixers,” the “animal house” parties and brawls at DKE—but I still remember Joe Lieberman’s precocious editorials in the Yale Daily News, and the richness and intensity of conversations with friends.

It was the time before civil rights and Vietnam had become movements, and before the media and an adolescent culture had overwhelmed substantive discourse. In that sense, perhaps it was a fated and sheltered time, but in my case it is what made my Yale education.


Managing Yale’s Money

Congratulations to Yale’s David Swensen on his achievement of a 40 percent return on the endowment last year (“Giving and Getting,” Feb.).

However, if Joe McNay ’56 can turn $380,000 into $70 million for the Class of 1954 in some 21 years (“Light & Verity,” Dec.), I strongly recommend that Swensen give McNay a substantial chunk of capital to manage for the benefit of the Yale endowment.

Your article about how the enterprising Class of 1954 has raised $70 million for the University by starting a classwide investment club reminds me how one of the Princeton undergraduate eating clubs raised money for a clubhouse.

Back before the First World War, one of the members, a pre-med, gave physical examinations to the entire membership. The pre-med identified the three members who (in his pre-professional opinion) were most likely to come to an early demise. The officers then took out big life insurance policies on all three. Within five years, the first of them was gone, and the club got its clubhouse, which stands to this day.


Cap on, Cap off

My hat goes off (figuratively) to Professor Albers for holding the line regarding baseball caps in the classroom (“Letters,” Feb.). I have been a college professor for 16 years, and I include this statement in all my syllabi:

“On a personal note, you will have my undying gratitude if you would refrain from wearing caps in class. Taking off one’s hat has historically been a sign of respect; I would humbly ask you to show respect for our classroom as a place of learning and seeking after truth. Sometimes people remind me that it is only a sign of respect for a man to take off his hat; to the women who like to wear caps I will only say ‘let your conscience be your guide!’”


Those Reunion Costs

The letter written by Ray Harris ’72 (Feb.) was disturbing. He complains of the cost of reunions, and he punishes the University by reducing his donations.

Then, I read the fascinating article by his classmate, Ted Gray, who fell in love with “a beautiful, older enchantress” who gave meaning to life (“News from Alumni House,” Feb.). The enchantress whom he loved, and who shaped his life, is none other than Yale.

That love, Ray Harris, is the reason why one returns for reunions. Soon, I will be enjoying my 65th reunion—and whatever it costs, it will be a bargain.

Regarding the high cost of Yale reunions, I think I know one way to reduce expenses: Why not replace open bars with cash bars? Open bars encourage excessive drinking and have to represent a significant part of the overall cost of the reunion.

I would be willing to pay for what I drink, and to chip in for bottles of wine at the dinners. This may seem less aristocratic, but it is possible to have a good time without the phony largess of open bars.


Administration Agenda

What the hey is going on with the Yale administration? Within a relatively few weeks, I read that Yale’s undergraduate admissions office 1) reports a record low acceptance rate, 2) hires a Web site designer and a “recruiter” to stimulate more applications, 3) announces that they will accept the Common Application in order to attract applicants from outside the traditional sources (“Light & Verity,” Feb.), 4) lets Princeton seize the initiative (but will undoubtedly follow) in eliminating student loans from financial aid packages, and 5) announces a reduction in future class sizes because of inadequate campus housing.

Meanwhile, in recent years, several Ivy League colleges have increased their class numbers. What is the point of making it progressively more difficult to attend Yale? The number of high-quality applicants Yale is turning down now is bordering on unconscionable.



In our February feature, “In the Days of DKE and S.D.S.,” we mistakenly identified Dean Rusk as the U.S. secretary of defense in 1967. He was secretary of state.

In our February “Vintage YAM,” WYBC’s frequency was listed as 94.0 FM. The frequency is 94.3 FM.

In our April 2000 “Light & Verity” article about Professor Serge Lang’s public protest of the offer of a tenured professorship of history to Daniel Kevles, we referred to Lang’s book Challenges as “self-published.” It was in fact published by the trade publisher Springer-Verlag. We also mistakenly identified the Journal of Information Ethics as the Journal of Ethical Behavior.  



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