Letters to the Editor

Get serious

I would like to state forthrightly that I believe the Alumni Bulletin to be one of the very best magazines of its sort. It is generally informative, interesting, and a welcome connection to one of the truly special places in my life.

That is why I found the Winter 2007 article "Pitching Tents, Pitching In" so disturbing. One of the most important characteristics of Kenyon has always been that it is a fairly serious place, intellectually speaking. To provide precious magazine space, and the Franklin Miller Award, to the stunt of pitching tents on the church lawn is profoundly unserious and shallow. I am not questioning the motives or character of the pleasant-looking fellow pictured in the article. But to "raise awareness" for the plight of the homeless by spending time sleeping under the stars in Gambier in September, in Gander Mountain sleeping bags and L.L. Bean camping gear? Oh, the horror! I'll bet that's exactly what the homeless go through. Hell, people would buy tickets for that sort of privilege.

One of the more unattractive aspects of contemporary college life is the apparent wholesale purchase of this sort of moral onanism. This sort of thing is almost never actually "about" the homeless. It's about getting people to notice how much prosperous upper-middle-class white kids care. A serious college ought to cheerfully put up with such silly things. But it shouldn't encourage them. And it sure as heck ought not to celebrate them. Come on, Kenyon. Get a little serious.

--Patrick J. Shanahan '79

A thrilling decision

"The Kenyon Trivia Quiz" (Winter 2007) mentioned that Campus Senate was considering a proposal to make the song "Kokosing Farewell" the official Kenyon alma mater. Senate invited Alumni Council to officially weigh in on the matter of changing Kenyon's alma mater from "The Thrill" to "Kokosing Farewell." While some council members felt that "Kokosing Farewell" is the more obvious choice and performed more often, our recommendation, by unanimous vote, was not to change the alma mater in reverence to tradition. This alma mater matter has since been withdrawn from the Senate's agenda--news of which concerned alumni may find thrilling.

--Scott R. Baker '94
President, Alumni Council

Deserving recognition omitted

As a parent of a Kenyon student, I very much enjoy receiving the Alumni Bulletin and feel that the publication does a great job to connect us with the College. Thank you so much for your efforts in that regard.

I am also writing to let you know that I was disappointed to read "The Hot Sheet" (Winter 2007) about WKCO and not read my son's name in connection with the show that was highlighted. Loren Bondurant '07 received the Franklin Miller Award last semester for his work on that program. All of our young people work hard to contribute to Kenyon in positive ways; recognition of those efforts is encouraging.

--Chartley McMaster Bondurant P'07

An embarrassment for Kenyon

How embarrassing for Kenyon that the January 13 New York Times story on Charles Stimson '86 ends with a reference to an interview with Mr. Stimson in the Spring/Summer 2006 Bulletin. The Times story is about Mr. Stimson's reprehensible suggestion that companies should reconsider doing business with top law firms whose lawyers represent prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mr. Stimson is also quoted as insinuating that these lawyers may be secretly receiving money for this pro bono work. This from someone who, in the Bulletin interview, actually said, "I have to choose my words carefully because I am a public figure on a very, very controversial topic."

For Mr. Stimson to have come through Kenyon and then law school without understanding the central obligation of all lawyers in our system--to make sure that each person is equally represented before the law--is enough to make one question the value of a good liberal arts education. I hope he is not typical of Kenyon graduates, and I hope the world realizes this.

--Michael Kischner '62

Preparing for life and paying the rent

I was dismayed to read President S. Georgia Nugent's comments in the Winter 2007 Bulletin ("Sound Bites"). Why shouldn't "preparation for life" include both long-term development and short-term preparation for a career following graduation? I do not believe many seniors graduate from Kenyon without the immediate concern of finding a job. The rent must be paid somehow.

In fact, many Kenyon graduates pursue a professional master's degree following graduation. To tout its relevance, Kenyon ought to sell the fact that its liberal arts education is excellent preparation for a graduate program in marketing or civil engineering. Why shouldn't preparation for life include a professional career? Whatever Ms. Nugent's intentions, her subtle denigration of careers with immediate relevance to life off the Hill sounds like intellectual snobbery, serving only to devalue the vital liberal arts experience Kenyon offers.

--Chris Kelly '97

A Marxist Christmas

I'm a great fan of Doctorow's writings ("Harpo," Winter 2007) but can't seem to reconcile his image of the Marx family hanging Christmas stockings in their tenement airshaft. It's my understanding that the Marxes were Jewish immigrants who grew up on the Lower East Side in an era when it was unlikely to see any Christmas ornaments at any time of year.

--Phil Newman '60

Mad illustrations

How did you happen to choose Jack Davis as the illustrator for the "Kenyon Trivia Quiz" in the Winter 2007 issue? Does he have a Kenyon connection? This well- known illustrator is very familiar to all early readers of Mad magazine.

--Michael T. Field

Editor's note: As far as we know, veteran cartoonist and illustrator Jack Davis has no connection to Kenyon. The Bulletin's designer, Emily Aldrich, chose Davis for the quiz because she thought his playful style was a good match for the piece. Perhaps her subconscious led her to Davis. Aldrich did subscribe to Mad as a kid. Davis, incidentally, no longer contributes to Mad, although he remains a master of silliness.

Gallant on the gridiron

Regarding the quiz question about Kenyon's football rivalry with Ohio State ("The Kenyon Trivia Quiz"), some of us are still around who knew and treasure memories of a couple of those gallant men. Carl R. Ganter 1899, a long-time trustee of the College, was the manager of the last Kenyon football team to beat Ohio State in 1898. He supposedly accomplished this feat by enrolling the largest blacksmith in Mount Vernon into the College for the weekend, so that he could play center on the team. The captain of our 1905 team, which lost a 6-0 squeaker, was Silas Blake Axtell '06, who was known for his exceptional strength and vigor.

Carl became a successful corporation lawyer in New York and Si a prominent New York labor lawyer for the maritime unions. While Carl was an elegant gentleman and a distinguished oenophile, Si was a rugged character who is said to have once settled a dispute with his younger brother by knocking him through a wall.

These very different men, however, were both key figures in our football wars with OSU. Both were also members of Kenyon families. Carl's father was Richard Ganter 1856; his brothers, Leo 1892 and Maxwell '04, and his nephew, Leo Jr. '21, were all good Kenyon men. Two of Si's sons--Si '52 and Halton '53--attended Kenyon, as did a grandson, Blake '75. Perhaps Si's sons or other alumni can recall anecdotes about these men or others of their vintage who played against Ohio State.

--Robert S. Price '58

Back to Top