Your article celebrating the Quest’s 100th year (“Shock! Horror! Quest turns 100,” September 2013) was most welcome, but deeply flawed.
A fine weekly is defined by how it informs in hard times, times of conflict and change within the college. In this crucial sense, your writer overlooked the transition from student government to community government in 1963–64.
Under the excellent and rigorously objective editorships of Myra Minkoff (Lader) ’65, Mark Loeb ’65, and, later, David Heifetz ’66, the Quest played a crucial role in making sure that students and faculty were informed of developments in the laborious process of producing an acceptable—if imperfect—constitution of community government.
I inherited a draft constitution of community government from the previous student administration. I felt strongly that it gave away too much of our traditional sovereignty. After intense discussion in council, I was invited to revise the existing draft (which had been negotiated and written in secret). Certain changes were made, notably the maintenance of a student majority on disciplinary matters—previously our monopoly—and the inclusion of student minority membership for curriculum, faculty recruitment, and teaching evaluation.
After council’s unanimous approval of the new text, the Quest printed it in toto on its first page. Included was a little box in bold type, by me, advising the students not to approve it because, I argued, it would have to be negotiated—this time with Quest coverage—with then-President Richard Sullivan [1956–67] and the faculty before taking effect and that, even if approved by all parties, it was unwise to disarm while the transition was not complete.
The students agreed and community government remained a dead letter until a later crisis, one in which the Quest played a leading role: the “Reed U” upheaval. Then, advised by the faculty members I trusted and admired, I asked the Quest again to call all the students together in the gym. With the argument that the college’s only shield against President Sullivan’s plans (again, secret) to turn it into a satellite university would have to be an alliance via community government with the faculty, it was unanimously adopted. Many students posed one condition, which I was anxious to avoid: if I would lead the student delegation in the community and serve one term as student body president, they would feel that their interests were safe.
And with the Quest’s support and gritty resistance to President Sullivan, it was to be. We met with trustees around the country and sent a carefully worded letter to all alumni opposing the Sullivan plan. And we won!
The Quest, also reaching trustees and many alumni, fought the good fight week after week.
As a historian, I feel strongly that on its centennial an institution needs full praise.
Your recounting of the episode of Sandy Macdonald ’46 and his little brass cannon (“Revolutionary Spirit,” March 2014), was amusing and edifying.
Although I first met Sandy in a touch football game a few years before (yes, that’s right, touch football), I did not become a good friend until we were both in the debate club at Stadium High School in Tacoma. Other members included Gerald Meier ’47 and Gordon Baker ’48. Sandy did not demonstrate any eccentricities during high school, although I think he did wear a small jabot to a couple of parties. In any event, Sandy was our valedictorian, the only one in the class to have all As.
Sandy went off to St. John’s College in 1942 despite the distance and the war. All reports were that he was extremely happy there. Thus, I was surprised to find him at Reed in the fall of 1943.
At this time Sandy’s fascination with the 18th century became more apparent. One story was that his father dropped in to visit and was upset to find that Sandy had rigged up a canopy over his bed.
Sandy became critical of the Air Corps pre-meteorology group that held a retreat ceremony at sundown on the Great Lawn. One afternoon during the ceremony, he reportedly opened the window, hauled out the Union Jack, and fired off his cannon as he and Rollin Dudley ’46 sang “God Save the King.” I am sure Sandy would have been much less critical had the PMs done a proper slow march.
Sandy thought there should be a fitting farewell for people who were leaving Reed in answer to a draft notice. So he got a bunch of us together to learn “Non più andrai,” the aria Figaro sings to Cherubino when the latter gets his call-up notice. We sang it at dinner in the Commons when someone was leaving; then I left at the end of the semester to go into the army. I do not know if the practice continued.
Those of us who had known Sandy for any period of time agreed wholeheartedly that Sandy should not have been in the service; basic training would have crushed him. I asked him how it was that he was not taken. He said that if he got on the end of the line during the induction physical the doctor would have time to listen to him and reject him, which is what happened.
I did not see much of Sandy after I came back to Tacoma in 1946. I returned to Reed that summer and then came east in 1948. I was told that Sandy went to work for the family construction firm, but he performed only menial tasks, ending up to be little more than the night watchman. I also learned that he withdrew socially and lived in a hut on the grounds of the construction firm where they found his body one morning. I never heard the cause of death.
Any reflection upon Sandy is necessarily touched with sadness. He had a great sense of humor, was good fun at our debate club parties, and had good manners. He had certainly demonstrated a disciplined mind.
Kudos to Chris Lydgate and the Reed magazine staff. Under his editorial leadership, Reed magazine has continually improved, and I think the March issue is the best one yet. The writing and production are first rate, and I particularly liked that the entire issue was focused on people—not just topics. The Pucci article was illuminating, the fire-belly toad article informative, and Sartre’s cookbook hilarious. I can’t wait to try some of those recipes. Keep up the good work.
Editor's Note: Thanks, Greg, (the check’s in the mail). We’re grateful for this hard-earned praise!