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Vermont Quarterly Online Magazine


Winter 2002


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Gee, thanks

Your recent issue of Vermont Quarterly is the most challenging and interesting of all that have ever been published. Permit me to commend you on a superb selection of articles that are not only of concern to alumni but have been read by many of my friends who found the subjects the basis of further discussions.

Ed Jacobson ’39
Whiting, Vermont

The fall 2001 issue of the Vermont Quarterly arrived yesterday, and I am compelled to tell you how much the magazine has improved in scope and depth of content recently. I had intended to peruse it for a few minutes but found myself up past my bedtime with so much material bidding for attention.

Your quest for the identity of the personage represented by the bust labeled Henry Jarvis Raymond is intriguing. However, there is no truer monument of the late Mr. Raymond than the lofty ideals of journalism manifested in The New York Times while that paper was under his aegis.

Gertrude C. Fisher ’47
Richmond, Virginia

Inviting God into the Classroom

Professor Nash’s proposal to teach about religion in the public schools assumes that in this politically correct world, we would be able to “create safe ‘dialog spaces’ throughout the campus where students would be willing to talk freely about the religious and spiritual content that means so much to them.”

How can we create an island of free speech in a sea of restrictions that prohibit criticism of anything that might be construed as having an ethnic, religious, racial, or gender basis? Once started, such forums where ideas and opinions were freely discussed could never be contained.

If there were a place where religious and spiritual views could be discussed freely, the next thing you know some people would want a forum where they could freely discuss racial or gender issues. If this were to happen, our whole system of control by political correctness would collapse. Our colleges would again become havens for a free and open exchange of ideas.

The views of people like David Horowitz might appear in our college newspapers and become serious subjects for honest discussion. Speakers like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas might appear on our college campuses and inspire debate. In the heat of passionate discussions, some people might be offended by what others said. Hurtful speech and value judgments might reappear on our campuses.

Open this can of worms and our beautiful, heaven-like academic world would surely become mean spirited. It’s unthinkable.

Erich Schmitt ’52
Bernville, Pennsylvania

Cut the BIFFS!

I was initially disappointed at the simplistic and vague article regarding Bradford Wright’s book Comic Book Nation in the fall VQ. The article seems to perpetuate the stereotype that comics are aimed at a certain audience and backs the idea up referring to the antiquated use of animated BIFFS! POWS! and BANGS!

I was also skeptical of Wright’s supposed authority on the subject but, after doing a bit of research, I discovered what the article suggests is true, and the book Comic Book Nation is making a stir within the comic industry.

So, I must both thank and criticize VQ. Thanks for covering a UVM alumnus’s book on the subject of comics and its role in history. But I also must suggest that the writer look beyond his own narrow view of the subject and provide a more realistic and comprehensive overview of the author, the book, and the comic book industry if we are to glean anything from this article.

Pete Corradino ’94
Londonderry, Vermont

Athletic program cuts

The budget cuts handed down by the Athletic Department are astonishing. As former members of the gymnastics team, we have a few things to say.

The gymnastics teams over the years have brought much needed and desired academic acclaim to the school. The teams have exemplified the epitome of what every student-athlete strives to become and what every athletic department can only hope to have. Our contributions are well established but, more often than not, have gone completely unnoticed. The team members are ambassadors for the school in this respect, exhibiting how being on a competititve Division I athletic team does not necessarily deter one from attaining a consistently high academic standard.

In cutting this team, the UVM and local community at large is being adversely affected. The gymnastics team’s contributions, which are incredibly significant to the community, include holding gymnastics clinics every Saturday morning, various Kids & Kops activities, and hosting and running numerous USA Gymnastics-sanctioned competitions. It is imperative to note that the team has done all these activities for the good of the community regardless of the fact that most of the student-athletes on the team are not local.

There are 24 members of the women’s gymnastics team alone this year. It is clear that the lack of interest in the sport of gymnastics is not the issue. The issue at hand is the lack of acknowledgement of the positive aspects that this long-standing program has produced from those who decided the future of this team without any true regard to what remarkable qualities we have ceaselessly offered the school.

Jennifer Roitman ’99
Brookline, Massachusetts
Amanda Deangelis ’99
Burlington, Vermont

Henry or Chester?

Regarding your piece on Henry Jarvis Raymond in the fall issue, if you examine pictures of Chester A. Arthur throughout his life, he consistently parted his hair on the opposite side from what is depicted on the bust. It would seem unlikely that a sculptor would get something like that wrong. This suggests that this was a bust of Raymond which, at some point, was misattributed as being that of Chester A. Arthur — probably during some long-forgotten moving project.

If you compare maps of the campus for 1885 and 1900 you will note that the museum and art gallery, which faced University Place (or University Park as it was then known) was relocated for the construction of Williams Science Hall. It would seem reasonable to assume that this reattribution took place sometime in that time frame since this is roughly when Arthur gained his greatest public acclaim. It would have, presumably, made perfect sense for a frugal university administrator or other person, either on purpose or accidentally, to rename a bust of a (then) relatively obscure alumnus as the President. Especially, as you point out, when that alumnus died under circumstances which, to Victorians, might be considered less than proper.

In sum, if you look into this far enough I suspect that you will find that the bust was loaned by the museum to some other place on campus at some point and eventually ended up in Waterman — obviously after 1940-41 because that’s when the building was constructed. And there it has remained since at least 1947.

I realize that this is a mass of assumptions strung together with a few facts, but, in the end, history is, often, a matter of interpretation and conjecture.

Karl Bridges
UVM library professor

Partnership key for kids

Thank you so much for your very fine article on Citizen Schools and the two of us. We were proud of the coverage and enjoyed the references back to our years at the University of Vermont, which we remember fondly.

We would like to correct one impression that the article left about the Woodrow Wilson School in Dorchester, a school that has partnered with Citizen Schools since 1996. We regret the description of the Wilson School related by one of our colleagues. The Wilson School embraced Citizen Schools with open arms six years ago, and since then we have worked hard with many of the teachers and with the principal of Wilson to educate and inspire children, who we all care about deeply.

One of the themes of Citizen Schools is that teachers and school alone cannot be expected to educate children. The rest of us — community members, parents, and organizations like Citizen Schools — need to get involved. Similarly, for Citizen Schools to be effective we rely on our school partners like the Wilson School and their many dedicated educators.

Ned Rimer ’83 and Eric Schwarz ’83
Boston, Massachusetts

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