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Letters

“President Harward understood what was important.”

He Understood

I enjoyed reading the many comments honoring President Harward (winter 2002 Bates Magazine), all of which resonated with my own experience upon first meeting him at an accepted students’ reception in Manhattan.

Taking some liberties with his wording, I recall that he said something like this: “If you know exactly what you want to do when you come into Bates, and you leave having done exactly that, then we will have failed you.” He went on to speak of his vision of a liberal education, which was also his mission for Bates. He hoped that our children would enter Bates, and whatever they thought they knew about themselves would be tossed on its head by the time they left Bates. He hoped that they would explore and discover and nurture talents and interests, proclivities and passions, that they didn’t even know at that moment (when they were still high school seniors) existed.  He did not want them to enter Bates as fully fashioned and completed; he hoped, instead, that they would engage themselves with purpose and passion with the people, the place, and the time that they would be given, that they would be honed and chiseled and defined by this experience, and emerge, four years later, perhaps hardly recognizable, even to themselves.

We knew, upon listening to President Harward, that our son would be faced with many decisions over the next four years. What he would major in and what he would do in the world would be among the decisions he would make; but most importantly Bates would help him make decisions about who he would become. President Harward understood what was important.

Sheri Lindner P’03
Port Washington, N.Y.

Transforming Moments

The piece on Kate Eastman ’82 (winter 2002 Bates Magazine) couldn’t have been timelier for me. Just three months ago my 16-month-old nephew Jackson died of cancer. It took a village, literally, to support Jackson, his parents and three older siblings during the four months between diagnosis and death. I now consider that period in my life sacred. Children are amazingly gifted at grasping the spiritual and guiding adults as the journey unfolds.

Success is not always best-measured by academic degrees and dollar signs. One moment — a touch or gesture, a word, an acknowledgement, or even silence — can be transforming. Katie (as I remember her!) Eastman’s days are no doubt filled with these moments. God bless her.

Kathryn C. Doran ’79
Natick, Mass.

Cultural Standards

In the wake of recent violence against Bates students it’s interesting to note the College didn’t have or need any security officers in 1965. A squad of nice old watchmen slowly patrolled the campus to check the basement boiler rooms. Dormitory front doors were generally unlocked. I remember because I was one of the townies who used to sneak into the dorms.

I grew up in Lewiston and usually appreciated its rough mill-town culture and cohesive social fabric. Lewiston in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s was bound together by a unifying ethnic tradition and the Catholic Church. The town was tough, but there was a lot of honor in the Franco-American Catholic families that dominated Lewiston neighborhoods. I learned much from the Franco-American culture that controlled most aspects of life in Lewiston outside the Bates campus.

Modern American higher education, which has embraced geographical mobility, multiculturalism, and a secular view of moral development, has not necessarily done well by Lewiston or other low-income areas of the country. People come and go more quickly from Lewiston neighborhoods now. Multiculturalism and the baby-boomer attitude toward religion have effectively undermined the ethnic and religious powers that held Lewiston together. Lewiston was safer and had more stable families when Franco-American and Catholic influences dominated the community.

The intellectual community in America, of which Bates is a vibrant part, should reconsider its unqualified cheerleading for geographical mobility and multiculturalism if we want cohesive communities and safe campuses. Baby boomers should consider reconnecting with religion if we want our children’s friends and foes to have some sense of honor in their actions.

You can put ID-card locks on all the doors and quadruple your security patrols, but that still won’t make the campus as safe as it was when we had unifying cultural standards and varied but strong religious traditions. The decline of unifying cultural standards that we inherited from British, French Canadian, and Judeo-Christian traditions may be an exciting liberation for the intellectual community, but it has not been good for inner cities or mill towns.

Peter Slovenski
Brunswick, Maine

Peter is the son of the late Walt Slovenski, Bates’ legendary coach of track and field.

Affirmative Action?

Regarding Charles Radcliffe ’50′s letter about the Thomas Sowell Professorship of Economics (winter 2002 Bates Magazine): He is certainly entitled to hope that a conservative economist will be selected for the post. I very much hope, however, that the best-qualified person will be selected for the post, be he or she conservative, liberal, or somewhere in between. The last thing I would have expected Charles Radcliffe to advocate is affirmative action for conservative economists.

Richard Dearborn ’41
Worcester, Mass.

Readers can check On & Off Campus for a brief account of the inaugural Sowell event in May. — Editor

The Party’s Over

As you report (Bates in the News, winter 2002 Bates Magazine), one of Pope.L’s artistic creations involved eating a copy of the Wall Street Journal. What you don’t report, if I recall correctly, is that he did this while sitting naked on a toilet. Similarly you mention “other bawdy performance projects,” although you carefully avoid specifics, like the six-foot plastic penis he sports in his best-known work.

So, why not tell it like it is? Maybe because when Pope.L’s work is fully and accurately described, no one would equate it with “principled thought.” Maybe Bates would be embarrassed if the truth were told. Maybe the only reason Bates tolerates his nonsense is that Pope.L pulls these stunts out of town, far from campus.

There’s no First Amendment issue here. Pope.L is free to wear his big plastic penis or sit naked on the toilet and call it art. It’s not censorship to deny him his accustomed taxpayer support. The party’s over.

So, Bates Magazine, tell us the whole story: Describe Pope.L’s art in detail, show us some pictures, and tell us how much government money he has already received. Somehow I suspect you won’t and that your next mention of Pope.L will be a small announcement of his retirement many, many years from now.

Ken Paillé ’78
Auburn, Maine

Kudos and Memories

Thanks for the memories to Bruce Park ’44 and Lou Scolnik ’45. “Little Big Band” (summer/fall 2001 Bates Magazine) was most interesting to me because I was privileged to share for a short time the fun of playing (though outclassed?) with the Bobcats. I sat in the position shown in the picture on page 17 between Everett Linscott ’44 and Merle Eastman ’43, which in the picture is occupied by Carol Poulin. If memory serves me correctly, the Bobcats played for the 1940 senior prom of Pemetic High School in Southwest Harbor, Maine, in June 1940. Don Partridge ’38, who taught me how to play saxophone and clarinet, was a teacher at Pemetic at the time and he was instrumental (through Stan Smith ’41, whom he preceded as leader) in my having the pleasure and privilege of playing with the Bobcats.

Quite a coincidence that Bruce and I ended up in Alabama, the Heart of Dixie, as transplanted Yankees. Kudos to Bruce and many thanks for an interesting trip down Memory Lane.

Hobart Reed ’44

Montgomery, Ala.

To Our Letter Writers

We welcome letters of approximately 400 or fewer words. Letters may be edited for style, grammar, length, clarity, and relevance to College issues and issues discussed in Bates Magazine. Please address letters to Bates Magazine, Office of College Relations, 141 Nichols St., Lewiston, ME 04240, or e-mail magazine@bates.edu.

Correction

In the winter 2002 issue of Bates Magazine, the photo on page 4 of Elaine Tuttle Hansen and her family was incorrectly attributed. The photographer was Mark James.


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