Open Forum

Jesus and Her

In reference to “Me and Jesus” (Summer 2004), apparently it is open season on “rendering” Jesus any way one happens to feel like doing. (What if Mohammed were a punkrock star?)

I’m all for an artist’s freedom of expression, within the bounds of decency. The examples shown of K-Fai Steele’s art are not offensive or obscene. In fact, they’re pleasant-looking and colorful.

But it seems to me that Steele has no idea what Jesus means to the world’s countless people who belong to the Christian faith. Jesus is not a cultural figure! The reason he came to earth transcends all cultures.

While the premise that people “create” their “icons and heroes, religious or not” to suit them is fallacious, the coup de grace is the statement at the end of the article by Professor Marcus Bruce ’77: “Part of me wishes Mel Gibson had done something more along these lines.” What?!

Mel Gibson created a cinematic work using artistic license to choose dramatic effects and actors’ emotional portrayals. But his screenplay is taken directly from the Holy Bible, the sacred scriptures of the Christian faith.

Incidentally, in the Bible the single life is praised as having equal dignity as the married life. It has an advantage in allowing a singlehearted focus to one’s lifework (1 Corinthians 7). Could Jesus’ purpose possibly fit in with “getting the girl”?
Lucinda Taylor Hotkowski ’72
Deep River, Conn.

The Final Curtain
Reading the obituary for Donald Gautier ’36 in the last issue prompted this letter. — Editor.

Like Sinatra’s lament — regrets, I’ve had a few.

In March 1945 while traversing the reverse slope on a hill overlooking the Moselle River in Germany, I encountered an officer returning to L Company of the 76th Infantry Division. I refilled my squad’s canteens and returned to my foxhole.

I was then informed that this was Capt. Donald Gautier, returning from a furlough in Paris. That was my only face-to-face contact with him, since I spent the rest of the war advancing to the outskirts of Chemnitz as the last man in the company’s column.

Years later, reviewing addresses in the company’s history, With Love, I saw that Capt. Gautier was from Auburn, Maine. I checked the 1985 Alumni Directory and found that he graduated in 1936. We corresponded in 1995, but never met, as he died in May 2004. Truly, regrets are an unfortunate part of life.
Frederick R. Slocum ’59
Niantic, Conn.

Revisiting the Visit

After reading about the controversy over the invitation-only event held by Bates College Republicans for President Bush’s daughters (Fall/Winter 2004), I agree that this is clearly a violation of the Bates mission statement.

As for legislation proposed by the Bates College Student Government to levy financial penalties, I believe that this does not go far enough. In the future, student clubs with large budgets could make decisions to be exclusionary, and choose to pay the fines as just another cost of running the clubs. This position leaves the door wide open for other violations. I believe it is the leader or leadership committee of the club that deserves the punishment.

What was Oliver Wolf thinking? Was he held accountable in any way?
Richard Favreau ’85
San Francisco, Calif.

The Bates Republicans held an exclusive, invitation-only campaign event using Bates facilities, facilities supported in part by my contributions to the College?! And they accepted $1,000 from the Bush campaign?

The surprise is not that the Bush campaign would attempt this. No, the surprise comes from the fact that the College administration let this anti-egalitarian, antiacademic event take place on campus. Why does the College support partisan politics in the first place, with partisan student groups? There should be no speakers on campus who are not subject to questions and comments from the entire campus community, no events where alternative viewpoints are suppressed.

The Bates Republicans owe the College community an apology. Bates should appropriate the inappropriate $1,000 into the College’s general fund as compensation for the use of the facilities.
Kenneth Worthy ’83
Berkeley, Calif.

The daughters of the president attended a private party on campus? Second-rate. Elitist. Bad Bates!
Hale W. Thurston ’88
Cincinnati, Ohio

Now, the rest of the story. Ultimately, the Bates College Student Government passed no legislation after the controversial event, nor did the BCSG penalize the Bates Republicans.

Although the BCSG made a wellpublicized finding in October that the Bush campaign “would be giving” $1,000 to the Bates College Republicans, a violation of club budget rules, no payment was ultimately made to the club. “That was an inaccurate rumor all along,” says Oliver Wolf ’06 of Pittsburgh, Pa., then president of the Bates Republicans.

With no indication that the Republicans spent or received outside funds, the money trail came down to a measly $57.31 that the group spent on posters, markers, T-shirts, and other items. “The expenditure on the event was small and was reimbursed to their account by their members,” says BCSG treasurer Vaibhav Bajpai ’07 of Calcutta, India.

Did the closed-door event violate Bates club rules? Vice President Bill Hiss ’66, responding to an alum’s letter in the Sun Journal, noted that while all Bates clubs must be open to all, “a club can have an event to which they invite only their members.”

In the end, “the question was about philosophy,” says Solomon Berman ’05 of North Andover, Mass., chair of the BCSG Elections and Judiciary Committee. “[BCSG] appropriates money to meet the important philosophy that clubs must provide the best service they can to…the Bates community as a whole. This situation was a reminder to clubs…and has placed them under additional scrutiny….” — Editor