Forum: July-August 2004

August 1, 2004
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WWJD

Greg Holcombe's letter ("Lessons in Christianity," March-April 2004) was exactly on the money, and it expresses perfectly my feelings about Duke's sad status of spiritual shipwreck.

Ray Albrektson '70
Redlands, California

Master's and Coordinator

In Eubanks' article "A Week in the Life" [March-April 2004], she writes that residence coordinators are mostly graduate students. The RC positions are full-time, post-master's-degree positions. As someone who paid her dues in grad school, I had to write in!

J. Sarah Gonzales
Residence Coordinator at Wilson, Aycock, Jarvis, Giles, and Epworth Halls
Durham, North Carolina

Tented Timing

Thanks for the photo of the "first" Krzyzewskiville circa 1986 [Retrospective, March-April 2004]. I know for a fact that tents sprouted in front of Cameron before the Duke-Carolina game in 1981, Coach Krzyzewski's first year and the year Gene Banks hit a shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

My Buchanan dorm-mates and I spent hours playing Risk in and out of our tent before the game, and we were not alone. Our tent was about one-third of the way down the path from Card Gym to House CC, and there were numerous tents in front of us. Krzyzewskiville may not have been "incorporated" until 1986, but the first settlers arrived in 1981.

Sandy Zusmann '82
Dunwoody, Georgia

University archivist Tim Pyatt responds:
The 1986 season was when the term "Krzyzewskiville" was coined, but camping out for games did occur before then. In 1984, several fans slept outside in sleeping bags before the UNC game. In 1985, students set up tents and camped out for the Washington game. There may be other instances over the years, but the 1986 "tent city" marks the start of K-ville as we know it today.

War Words

I was insulted by Geraldine Nichols' letter in the latest issue [Forum, March-April 2004]. I graduated from Duke before she was born and am a proud member of "The Greatest Generation," who gave her the freedom and opportunity to express her views. Her comments were attributed to an article by Duke professor Miriam Cooke. If so, both need to re-evaluate research that causes such an unrealistic relationship to reality.

Many who served died prematurely to preserve freedom for all.

No one who has experienced war can say they enjoyed it. Service was for love of country and the principles of freedom. Actions of individuals during combat cannot be understood by anyone who has not been there. Yes, men respect and admire military leaders, but because of the difference between the sexes, women will never understand that feeling. However, most women realize that men protect them when danger is imminent.

To refresh the memories of all, General Robert E. Lee once stated, "It is good that war is so terrible, lest we could come to love it." The clichÈs used by Nichols are trite and indicate her ignorance of the thoughts and beliefs of men.

The "Hell No, We Won't Go" attitude of the "cowardly generation" should have died with the end of the Hippie Era, but some people continue the ignorant and arrogant idealism that freedom comes without cost. Freedom has never been free; it is paid for by the blood of heroes who served in all wars. I am proud of those who served before and today, even if some who receive the benefits of this honorable service and sacrifice are not.

The Bible says, "There will be wars and rumors of wars throughout eternity." Nichols should be glad that there have always been men willing to serve to protect the rights of others to live in a free society and continue to utter their irresponsible comments.

Garnett Lane "Jack" Ferguson B.S.M.E. '47
Marietta, Georgia

 

It's too bad Ms. Nichols doesn't understand that there are times when evil must be resisted with force. She is free to air her views here because our founding fathers had the strength to resist and establish an independent nation. Now there are factions in the world who hate us because we have that freedom. Another reason they hate us is that free societies are so much more advanced than societies that repress the opinions and actions of their people. She should remember the "rape rooms" and torture chambers of Iraq. Thank you for Mr. Harris' story!†

Alice K. Smith '54
Decatur, Georgia

 

Divinity's Limitations

Thank you, Emily Grey†["Icons Away," Under the Gargoyle, March-April 2004] for daring to illuminate a timeless problem at Duke. While in the Divinity School, I, too, felt that the role of a female student had been defined for me long before I arrived in Durham. In fact, I believe that even though 50 percent or more of the student body of the Divinity School was female, only two women on the faculty had tenure.

In addition, while I was working on the three-year degree, as most male students were, I was treated as a second-class student because I was not pursuing ordained ministry. Therefore, from male classmates and faculty, it felt like being dealt a double whammy: I neither fit their idea of what a woman in the Divinity School should do or should be. I pray this is changing.

And as for what "should" women do--Emily, you are right on target! We should do nothing about trying to help women have idealized bodies and great careers to match, nor the ability to display their intelligence with the great body. Rather, we need to create a campus and society where these types of expectations or questions no longer have any place.

Carol W. Waldenburg M.Div. '98
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

 

Talented Teaching

I read with interest the article ["The Entertainer," Campus Observer, March-April 2004] on C. J. Skender because I was an accounting major at Duke. My main professors were Tom Keller and Bob Dickens. In the article, Professor Skender refers to his mentor as Bob Dickson. Could this have been Bob Dickens? Accounting may sometimes be "boring"; however, I can testify that my education at Duke in that subject has shaped my entire business career (some forty years now) and has made me a small fortune.

I would love to attend one of Professor Skender's classes because if the "accrual method of accounting" and "adjusting journal entries" don't turn you on, nothing will. Please pass this letter on to Professor Skender and accept my compliments for a great article.†He must be "some kind of guy!"

Robert G. Pfeiffer '62
Prospect, Kentucky

 

While I have never taken an accounting course, nor heard of C. J. Skender (and I wish I had had even one such entertaining professor during my days at Duke), I noticed in "The Entertainer" a not-infrequently-found Duke Magazine reference to the outstanding professorship of Pelham Wilder.

When I changed to pre-med at the end of my sophomore year in 1966, one streamlining option was to complete Chem 1 (for me, taught by another legend-to-be, James Bonk) and hope to gain admittance to Chem 42, a new, "advanced," one-semester course that satisfied the requirement for both Chem 2 and P-Chem, taught by Dr. Wilder. He, rumored to have been miffed for being bypassed by the Nobel committee, rarely uttered anything that anyone in the class could understand. Questions were discouraged, and once asked, evoked a response that assured no future faux pas.

I have Dr. Wilder's tests among my memorabilia, saved to remind me of my place in the hierarchy of intelligentsia, should I ever become self-assured. My scores were 19 on the mid, and 21 on the final. Sadly, these scores were good enough for a "C," as none of the crËme of young chemistry minds scored higher than 39. That was 1967.

Enigmatically, Dr. Bonk was not at all the entertaining, interactive, write-with-both-hands, I-can-teach-chemistry-to-anyone man that he was to become, either. Most ironically, neither my medical education nor my surgical career has required a whit of understanding of chemistry. As these, and perhaps many other great teachers at Duke, have obviously been made rather than born, perhaps there is an article in there somewhere about the transition of great minds into great communicators.

Charles B. Williams '68
Lafayette, Louisiana

 

I read about C.J. Skender and was envious of his students. A question for him: Quick! St. Elmo's Fire. Class of '82. York. Fun guy and good friend.

Answer: Carl Kurlander, screenwriter. Did C.J. the D.J. get the answer? If so, someone give the man a candy bar!

Myra Frisch Gons '81
Camp Hill, Pennsylvania

 

College Costs

In the Forum of the September-October 2003 issue,

Dr. William H .Wright and Mr. Theodore M. Robinson voiced their frustration over Ms. Nikki Jusu's telling of her coming to Duke University because Duke offered "the most money." They threatened to terminate their donations to Duke University. Similar protest was registered by Mr. Greg Holcombe in the Forum of the March-April 2004 issue, under the title "Lessons in Christianity." I hope that Dr. Wright, Mr. Robinson, and Mr. Holcombe will find time and interest to read a recent article, "As Wealthy Fill Top Colleges, Concerns Grow over Fairness," in The New York Times on April 22, 2004 (A1), and understand the university's admission practice.

In a time when the majority of students in top colleges are from the wealthiest quartile, and even the middle class is edged out, I am proud of my alma mater being the one to offer "the most money" to recruit a student. I am also glad that Duke has not taught Ms. Jusu or she has not learned, or refused to learn, not to speak her mind. Of course, it would be an improvement in admissions if a student chooses Duke for reasons besides money, but for those applicants whose education costs more than their entire family's income, it is no wonder that the size of financial aid is their primary concern.

I understand that a private university like Duke heavily depends on donations, often from wealthy parents and alumni, for survival. But the existence of a university has one basic purpose. It is not Christianity. It is not cutting-edge research. It is education. For this purpose, I hope that Duke University will not be reserved for students who do not have to compare financial aid, but [will] continue to make access for the majority of the society.

Zhibin Chen Ph.D. '00
Boston, Massachusetts

 

Devil's Derivations

My late mother always bemoaned that a good Methodist school had a devil for a mascot. I was delighted to read in Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code that Baphomet was the "pagan god of fertility, a symbol of procreation and profundity." At some point, the church turned him into the "horned devil."

Now I can cheer more enthusiastically for the Devils. Yet, scholars, please chime in. Is the Baphomet explanation true?

Dayna Grant Norris '72
Princeton, New Jersey