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Columbia College Today May 2005
Cover Story


 John Jay Dinner 2005
 John Crabtree ’78
    Wines and Dines at
     the Kittle House






This Issue





Janice Min ’90

Congratulations to Sarah Lorge Butler ’95 for her nuanced profile of Janice Min ’90. I was a purple-eyeshadow-wearing, bad-hair-day Glamour-don’t in the late 1980s, and what I remember most from my brief encounters with the incomparable Min was not just her singular style — that’s a given, you could practically spot that from the other end of College Walk — but her lack of cynicism, genuine enthusiasm and, dare I say it? ... she was just darned friendly.

Sally S. Graham ’90


Of all the pursuits of all the graduates of all the years of Columbia College, you devote the cover story of the March issue to what has come to be known in the circles I move in as “twaddle.” No offense to Ms. [Janice] Min [’90], who I am sure has worked hard and done well, but is this what we have come to — “a focus on fashion and pop culture”? Benefits of the Core Curriculum, no doubt.

There are graduates who are doctors, lawyers, architects, teachers, professors, politicians, business leaders, archeologists, philanthropists and any other occupation you wish to name who go about living their never-mentioned-in-your-magazine lives who do more to promote something of real value along with the ideals supposedly taught at Columbia than Us Weekly, which does little but fan the flames of cultural illiteracy and devotion to the shallowness of what Western culture has become.

You must be kidding.

Louis P. DeLaura ’80
Afton, Va.

[Editor’s note: Columbians have achieved success in a wide range of endeavors, which we try to acknowledge. After the story’s publication, Janice Min ’90 was named Editor of the Year for 2005 by Mediaweek.]

Driving Force?

While I admire Janice Min ’90 for her creativity, her managerial skills and her stamina, I cannot admire her carnivorous approach to other people’s privacy. Sadly, people like her were the driving force behind the paparazzi that contributed to the demise and deaths of Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe and other victims of her trade.

Gary Newman ’63
Mevaseret Zion, Israel

Welcoming Words

Reading Dan Wakefield ’55’s wonderful tribute to his Columbia teachers, “My Columbia: Van Doren, Trilling and Mills” (January 2005) touched a responsive chord. Wakefield describes the moving experience of visiting Professor Van Doren in his office for the first time. As a fellow Midwesterner who had just transferred to Columbia, Wakefield was made to feel not only “welcomed and acknowledged but somehow made safe in that alien place, intimidating city and sophisticated college.”

Almost 20 years later, I enjoyed a similar experience in meeting Dean Henry Coleman ’46 in Hamilton Hall. Like Wakefield, I was a Midwesterner who was feeling intimidated and awed by the College and the city. I stopped in the Dean’s Office during my first semester and encountered Dean Coleman. When he learned that I hailed from Minneapolis, he immediately engaged me in a warm conversation about his connections with Minnesota through his wife, a native Minneapolitan. That encounter meant the world to me. I left Dean Coleman’s office with a smile on the outside and an even bigger grin on the inside. The kindness and sincerity of this Minnesotan-by-marriage had instantly braced me for anything the city might confront me with during the next four years.

Barry Kelner ’73
Bloomington, Minn.

Reviving the Roar

I wish to thank and congratulate Josie Swindler ’07 (Spectator staff writer) for pointing out the truth in the February 10, 2005, issue of Spectator, under the title, “Reviving the Roar” (March 2005, page 3). She is absolutely right! I believe that Columbia student happiness can be translated into school spirit. Furthermore, she is absolutely right when she says: “The recent focus on early decision admissions might also play a part. As Columbia accepts more and more early decision applicants — 44 percent of the College and 43 percent of the SEAS incoming classes of 2009 have been filled by early admission applicants — the University increases the number of students who would actually choose Columbia over Princeton or Harvard, essentially picking the students most prone to Lion pride.”

The true lesson is: We do not want those who come to Columbia suffering the mental scourge of the infamous ‘H-Y-P’ Depression and Anger. They moan and groan and have a generally negative attitude, which can be damaging to themselves and to others. I believe that Columbia should pick its incoming class with more than 51 percent early decisions. We want to admit those who want us first and foremost. More power to early decision!

Additionally, I agree and support President Lee C. Bollinger’s public statement that Columbia has the most diversified student body in any Ivy League university. This reality will deflate all Marxist-Leninist arguments of “race or class warfare” and “race or class exclusion.”

There is no chance of Columbia being grandfathered as a WASPish institution under the policy of early decision. What else can the politically correct types argue about? So, let the parade of children of alums, as well as all true Lion-aspirants with no legacy, enter Columbia as early decisions. May their Lion’s pride long endure!

Robert Tang ’71

Our Columbia

In regards to Bob Berne ’60’s letter, “Our Columbia” (March 2005), I feel that he neither adequately addressed the issues involved in Columbia Unbecoming nor accurately characterized Columbia’s response.

I do not feel the issue is one of “academic freedom,” but rather one of professionalism and civility. Whether the students in question were intimidated will never be resolved, but the professors in question have made their feelings towards Israelis and Zionists known. No one questions their writings on the Internet and their characterizations in public settings of Israelis being “Nazis” and Israel being an illegitimate racist state.

People, for example, Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern, have “freedom.” They can call others, such as feminists or religious conservatives, names such as “racist” or “Nazis.” University professors cannot. They cannot teach Middle East studies if they cannot present both sides of the issue fairly and with respect. Israelis and Zionists are entitled to civility and freedom from name calling. Language that former U.N. Ambassador Patrick Moynihan called “reprehensible” and “unacceptable” on behalf of our government in 1974 is now common rhetoric from Columbia professors. No one would accept this language regarding women or minorities.

The situation exposed by Columbia Unbecoming was the result of years of University neglect of issues of fairness regarding Israel. Now, Columbia claims to have arranged a committee to handle the problem. If the committee does not address the complaints raised by the movie, then for whose purpose is the committee formed? May I suggest it is to pacify alumni and donors who are concerned by this revelation? Until Columbia makes an effort to honestly deal with the issue, it will not go away.

Jonathan D. Reich ’85, ’86E M.D.




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