November 2004 letters 2004
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here’s to both sides
From Charles Lave ’60

In your August issue, Gerardo Nebbia expresses his “outrage” that you had printed an article that was supportive of U.S. goals in Iraq. While I share his anger about the war, I do not share his belief that the magazine should not print controversial opinions. The Reed I attended had an ethos that emphasized our duty to understand both sides of an argument. It was unimaginable that someone would try to suppress the printing of an “incorrect” opinion. I remember a political science class where Professor Goldschmidt, upon noting that too many people were agreeing with his initial premise, switched sides and argued effectively for the other position. That’s the difference between teaching and indoctrination.

more owen ulph tales
From Chris Alden ’82

I share the view of Robert Leonard’s letter that the obituary [Reed, February 2004] did not do justice to the man. I was a student of his in Hum in 1978 and remember him as seriously cantankerous, cynical, and a teller of “yarns” from his cowpoke days—and, despite all this, a very engaging teacher. His opening line to the class our first day was “all of you are guaranteed a B+ already so only attend the class if you are interested in participating,” and we went on to have a stimulating year. Ulph was unafraid of confrontation with the powers that be at the college, partly a legacy of his departure (and Stanley Moore’s dismissal) in the wake of McCarthyism, and we had the impression that he was in a constant condition of dispute with the administration. If one wants to understand his influence and legacy in all senses, I would suggest reading the notes written by students to be found at the ski cabin—there used to be a thick notebook kept there filled with passages written by visitors which I spent some idle snow-bound hours looking through—which do more to capture these dimensions of the man than the obituary was able to.

[Ed. note: The ski cabin manager reports that notebooks, dating back to the origin of the cabin, are still being used there.]

the inimitable lloyd reynolds
By David Widelock ’69

Martin White’s letter on Lloyd Reynolds [Reed, August 2004] took me back to the time in 1969 when the Black Studies crisis was going on. Although Martin is correct in his memory that Lloyd spoke in a public forum in favor of the Black Student Union’s proposal, his account left us with what I believe is a mistaken impression about Reynolds’ role. I remember that at the very next public forum, Reynolds got up and said that “yesterday I made a grievous error” in his previous speech. He said he had become convinced that there was an issue of academic freedom (referring to the BSU’s demand to act as advisors on course content in a Black Studies Dept.). He said that he had been through battles over academic freedom and that “he bore the scars.” I was very disappointed at the time, as I supported the BSU, but I had to admit it took guts to stand up there and admit he decided he was wrong.

square-peg students
From Suzanne Mittenhall ’64

On my first return to Reed in 40 years, I found myself asking alumni office staff about the perplexing problem of Reed’s high attrition rate. I remember putting a note over my freshman year study desk with the statistic that only 26 percent of Reedies from each class at that time ever graduated: my penned question, “will you be one of them?” I have been following this statistic over the years; the last I read, the graduation rate is up to the 70s. However, comparable schools’ rates are in the upper 90s. One staff member, in talking about this problem, mentioned to me that his office was pondering ways to improve this “success rate.” I started looking about at the folks who had returned with me, and thinking about those who had not (many of whom I am aware should in no way be referred to as “failures!”). A number of the most memorable ones are “Xs” or “Ls” in the alumni list. It occurred to me that should Reed ever raise its “success” rate to match that of its competitors, possibly students like those who have attended Reed and contributed their various characters to the campus culture in the past, but not graduated, won’t fit the modern requirements for certain graduation “success.” And possibly, absence of those round-peg-in-square-hole/go-for-broke students will undermine the very character that has so distinguished Reed in the past.

End of Article
Reed Magazine November 2004