Dissenting Voices Unheard
Your article, “Dissent On Campus,” is remarkable, but unfortunately to some extent, as much for what it failed to mention as what it did.

It is interesting to recall the spring 1992 Waterman takeover that resulted in the creation of another shantytown on The Green, this time named “Diversity University” by its creators. I can recall leaving Wheeler House with my fellow historic preservation grad students and noting the beginning of the takeover next door. We looked it over, looked at each other, and, being a few years older than most of the undergrads apparently involved, mumbled something about spring and hormones.

Being, at that time, heavily involved in local, state, and national efforts in the ongoing battle for equal treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people, I watched the growth and evolution of the campus protest. (Its purported direction fell under the general rubric of advocating multiculturalism.) It was interesting to note, following hard on the heels of Vermont’s amendment of state civil rights laws to bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and the unsuccessful effort by a brave, young black gay man named Winston Braithwaite for acceptance by a campus fraternity, how the proponents of Diversity U had to be negotiated with, before they found themselves able to welcome the inclusion of g/l/b/t equal rights concerns in their programme.

At that time, the university (UVM, that is) had an active g/l/b/t student organization whose members conducted a range of awareness programs involving and usually led by students who self-identified as g/l/b/t in their orientation. With the involvement of many UVM students in the battle in Montpelier for the state civil rights bill, and growing nationwide discontent with military discrimination (an outgrowth of outrageous statements and conduct by the Defense Department at the time of the Persian Gulf conflict) these were busy times for Vermont’s and for UVM’s very visible “gay” community.

It is sad to note, therefore, the complete absence of any reference to these matters in your article. The oversight tends to perpetuate a centuries-old exclusion of the efforts, the contribution and perhaps even the existence of people whose sexuality does not meet with sympathy in the mainstream of society.

I hope there is still an active and visible g/l/b/t student community at UVM, and I think I even hope that when next spring’s hormonal surges move them, they will show up on your doorstep to remind you of the inestimable value of inclusion, and of protest, open argumentation and debate, especially in the university community.

Gene F. Barfield G’92
East Jordan, Michigan

Another Angle on Dissent
I do not agree entirely with your article “Dissent On Campus.” While some goals might be desirable, the methods of force and intimidation are not acceptable in our democracy. While protestors revile intolerance, on occasion, they exhibit this very undesirable trait — the end justifies the means.
Not all zealots’ goals are necessarily good, or at least many are debatable. For example, the ROTC on campus, in my opinion, was an activity for the good of the country and for the young men who received their first serious introduction to discipline.

J. Stuart Torrey ’41
Media, Pennsylvania

Land Grants and Liberal Arts
Please pass on to President Ramaley my thanks for her article on the land-grant universities in the Fall 1998 Vermont Quarterly. As president of the institution where the idea has much of its origin, she seized an excellent opportunity in gentle fashion to remind everyone that Morrill saw the university and the liberal arts as prerequisites for building a developing nation, and to correct the notion that land-grant universities were for future “farmers” as a lesser breed of student. Coming from an Oklahoma farm family myself, I am sensitive to the point.

Philip Ambrose
Roberts Professor of Classical Languages and Literature, UVM

A liberal courseload
I have just finished reading the President’s Perspective in the Fall issue and want to congratulate President Ramaley on her understanding of the land grant college and the land grant mission. Few of our former presidents have articulated the mission as concisely as she, if indeed they agreed with her interpretation.
For at least a quarter century, most faculty and administrators of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have recognized the need for their students to enroll in a significant number of courses in the liberal arts and other disciplines. I don’t know what present curricula require, but when I retired, courses required and elected outside of the college often comprised more than half of the students’ programs. Unfortunately, students in other colleges of the university, and especially in Arts and Sciences, were restricted in the number of courses they could enroll in outside of their college, or, if not so restricted, were not encouraged to enroll in courses in other colleges.
If these restrictions and attitudes still persist, it seems to me that they seriously limit our ability to, in President Ramaley’s words “carefully introduce our students to the strengths and limitations of each domain of knowledge as well as the contents and methodologies of different disciplines….”

Robert O. Sinclair
UVM Professor and Dean Emeritus
Tucson, Arizona