LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
I enjoyed very much your photographs of doorways on campus [January 2006]. Three doorways caught my
first glance, those of Earl Hall, St. Paul’s Chapel and John Jay Hall. In 1977, I walked through
the door to Earl Hall to seek a minister to preside over my wedding. Then I walked through the doorway
at St. Paul’s Chapel to wed. Afterward, I walked through the doorway at John Jay Hall for the
Doorways are those dividing lines that define one ambiance from another, one purpose from another.
It was in January 1960, if I remember correctly, that I walked through the doorway at the Pantheon,
that remarkable building that has been standing for 2,000 years. If I understand correctly, the doors
to the Pantheon are bronze, they are the original ones and perhaps they still hang on the original hinges.
It was quite an experience to go from the modern world and step back in time to 2,000 years ago.
Perhaps doorways at the university will be standing 2,000 years from now. Let us hope so, especially
the doors to Earl Hall, St. Paul’s Chapel and John Jay Hall.
Arthur Thomas ’50
Congratulations! This issue is a brilliant achievement!
I think it is one of the best ever. I read it through in one continuous sitting — all of one afternoon
and evening. Every article was highly edifying and interesting.
Sol Fisher ’36
Pleasant Hill, Calif.
CCT is right to correct the record regarding
the leadership of the Columbia College Student Council, but the correction still is incomplete. Depending
on how one counts, Michelle Oh ’06 is either the fifth or the seventh female head of CCSC. Still
missing from CCT’s list are Karla Lema ’93 (chair, 1992–93 under the previous
constitution) and Claudia DeSimio ’99 (president, 1998–99).
Although the College went co-ed in 1983, the student body did not reestablish the CCSC (dissolved
in 1962) until the late 1980s. In fact, the majority of CCSC chiefs in the 1990s were women. Indeed,
the College would benefit greatly from a written chronicle, especially of its storied 20th-century history.
Sadly, Robert McCaughey’s otherwise excellent Stand, Columbia pays almost no attention
to student life and governance, particularly after the introduction of coeducation and the guarantee
of need-blind, full-need financial aid as well as campus accommodation for all four undergraduate years
(which permits a broad national, even global, student body).
Shawn Landres ’94
[Editor’s note: Other women who headed CCSC are Randa Zakhary ’92, Allyson Baker ’95,
Syreeta McFadden ’97 and Alejandra Montenegro ’98.]
Lou Rossini was both a friend and a mentor in that he was on the
varsity squad in the 1946–47 season when I returned Columbia in February 1946 to complete my freshman
year, which had been so rudely interrupted three years earlier by the Army Air Corps. As a member of
the freshman squad, I scrimmaged against Lou in practice. The next season, I was on the JV and Lou was
my coach. He often would join us in scrimmaging against the varsity, as we were no real match for that
very strong team, which as I recall beat Bob Cousy, George Kaftan and company when Holy Cross made the
mistake of coming to Morningside Heights.
Lou, of course, continued in that role, and as assistant coach to Gordon Ridings until the week before
the 1951 season started, when he was forced to assume acting head coach duties when Ridings suffered
a heart attack. When the team went undefeated that year and earned an NCAA tournament berth, there was
little the administration could do but hand Lou the job and name Ridings the athletics director.
I saw Lou occasionally after graduation, as we lived in the same neighborhood on Central Park West.
I remember sometimes meeting him and his lovely wife in the park, pushing a baby carriage, but lost
contact when I moved to Albany in the early ’50s. He was a great guy and a fine basketball player
Incidentally, that ’46–’47 team spawned two other coaches: Walt Budko, the center,
was player-coach for Baltimore in the NBA, and Bruce Gehrke had a long career as a high school coach
on Long Island.
George Woolfe ’48
In the November 2005 CCT, Arnold Beichman ’34 recalls how in the Oval Office, President
Bush and he talked about the President’s ambition to globalize democracy. “No two democracies
(since 1789) have ever gone to war with each other. (Britain was not a democracy in 1812). Therefore,
said the President, a world of democracies would be a world at peace.”
This sort of specious a posteriori reasoning is not what I would expect a Columbian to quote with
approval, especially as it leaves us with the question as to what a “democracy” is. Presumably,
the Britain of 1812 is ruled out because, although it had a bicameral parliament, the electoral franchise
was rather limited. But in the United States, millions of slaves did not have the vote; nor did women,
both slave and free.
So what qualifies as a democracy? Adolf Hitler was elected to office.
Frank Dux ’52
In celebrating “100 Years of Housing”, the alumni
remembrances of “My Columbia” focused
on “dorm-related stories.” Yet, like many who arrived as freshmen on the Morningside campus
in 1944, I found living on campus not in the equation. A native of and living in Queens, I joined those
who arrived daily on campus at the 116th Street stop of the IRT as a commuter. In short, I experienced
my Columbia days without the enviable congeniality of dorm life.
That void did not diminish the excitement of being part of the campus and its retreats, such as The
Lions Den and The West End, nor did I feel that I could not be educated or think for myself because
I didn’t live in a dormitory in the environment of peers. On the contrary, newfound friendships,
including with those living in dorms, had an added dimension provided by unfolding events of the time.
The war in Europe had endured but still raged in the Pacific. Colleges began to experience the influx
of veterans, many older than the traditional college freshman, and many married and living off campus,
from Brooklyn to Greenwich Village to northern Manhattan. As it turned out, I spent seven years at Columbia,
going from the College to what at the time was called the School of Architecture. In all that time,
not once did I feel as though I was other than a Columbian nor that I was receiving a lesser education
than those who lived in dorms.
Edwin B. Bergeson ’48, ’51 Arch.
Grant’s Pass, Ore.