Letters to the Editor

The Bulletin welcomes letters of three hundred or fewer words. Letters to the editor may be used for publication unless the author states the letter is not to be published. Letters may be edited for style, length, clarity, grammar, and relevance to Kenyon issues. Please address submissions to: Editor, Kenyon College Alumni Bulletin, Office of Public Affairs, Gambier, Ohio 43022. Letters may also be submitted to alumni@kenyon.edu or through our online feedback form.

A proud salute

Just a brief note to let you know how proud you make all us alums with the recognition you recently received from CASE [the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education] for the continuing magical quality of the Bulletin. It is a pleasure to see, receive, and devour every edition (notwithstanding the weird feeling of finding one's class notes nearer and nearer to the beginning of the book!) and you contribute mightily with your editorial skill to the pride and connection of the alumni body. A salute from all of us.

Keep up the outstanding work ...

—Todd Leavitt '73 P'10

Little Women

Jesse Matz's article, "Transformed by Time" (Spring/Summer 2009), is so on the mark! To share my experience with a children's book seen from adulthood: a few years ago, my Columbus, Ohio, book group chose to re-read Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, that classic of pubescent sentimentality. We varied in age from thirty to fifty-five, but each had fond memories of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy—and of course the Marmee who held the family together while the father was off at war. I had even thought of naming a child Meg!

When seen through the lens of adulthood and the social perspective of the late twentieth century, the book was anything but a sentimental story of adolescence. Rather, it appeared to be about women's submission and the compliant attitudes foisted on the "weaker" sex. The father was lionized for leaving the family in penury and running off to the war even though he was essentially an unsuccessful provider, a failed preacher/idealist. Meanwhile the family was left at home to live in threadbare gentility with no "respectable" financial options. Even the "scribbles" that daughter Jo writes must be lurid romantic fiction to be considered acceptable—and they had to be sold under a pseudonym.

It's a good thing I had a boy or Meg would have had a name change when she was about ten!

—Tricia Herban P'96

More on "Girls?!" and "Turf War"

Dan Laskin's "Family Squabbles" article highlighted for me how much time has passed since the two squabbles in which I participated: "Girls?!" and "Turf War." I was one of the youngest alumni at the Quo Vadimus meeting which overwhelmingly backed admitting women. Provost Bruce Haywood framed the issues perfectly. The faculty had to expand if Kenyon was to remain a first-class liberal arts college; we needed more teachers to cover the explosion of knowledge in the sciences, non-European languages, sociology, etc. Those teachers needed good students to teach, and attracting more qualified men was becoming harder. It appeared to us that women would alleviate the increasing social stresses, would maintain and perhaps increase the quality we sought, and might gravitate to and strengthen some of the fine arts courses. The decision to admit women seemed obviously correct. To avoid dictating to the women how that should be done, the decision left the choice between a coordinate college and an integrated college to them. There were later squabbles about implementation but really none at the decisive meeting with the alumni.

That was not the case with Turf War, because it was a clash of two rights. Kenyon must have the right to say who should live in its dorms and how, even if the reasons given in the [commission on student life] report were unsupported by the studies cited in its bibliography. Conversely, AD had bought and paid for the right to occupy its entire division. The compromise offered by Bruce Bell '49, Ray Grebey '49, and me was flatly rejected by President Jordan, which led to the unfortunate lawsuit. After Judge Eyster's decision, President Oden graciously accepted the original offer, with minor changes, which settled the matter to our mutual satisfaction. We are again one happy family.

—Robert S. Price '58

A treasured photograph

My wife, daughter, and I were happy to visit Paul Newman when Mr. and Mrs. Bridge was being filmed in Kansas City, Missouri. Paul and I were among the ninety-odd Kenyon graduates in the Class of 1949. By invitation, we visited the set and watched the making of the tornado scene.

Paul was good enough to come and talk to us during a pause from his shooting assignment; he posed for several pictures with us. Needless to say, my wife Aiko and daughter Terry were thrilled to have this opportunity. He is dressed as the prim and proper Mr. Bridge. The year was 1989, forty years after our graduation.

—Edwin Uyeki '49

Dishwashing recruiter

Like my 1967 classmate Bill Brown, I too washed dishes at Peirce [see "Letters," Spring/Summer 2009]. It was Martin McKerrow who recruited us both (to refresh Bill's memory).

—Robert C. Martin '67

Forty years of women at Kenyon

Forty years ago this summer, 150 new high school graduates were anticipating college. What made these young women different from most of their high school classmates was that they were heading off to a college that had been all male for nearly 150 years. Little did they know that their experience at Kenyon College would be quite different from that of many of their friends but not so different from other first-year female students at Princeton, Yale, and many other previously all-male colleges that opened their doors to women in the fall of 1969.

In a time when there were still only four stations on television and people got most of their news from morning and evening newspapers, the summer of 1969 was a particularly newsworthy one. Many things happened which these women experienced—for a few, directly, and for the rest, through the media. Perhaps the two major events were men walking on the surface of the moon on July 20 and the music festival, Woodstock, August 15-18, but the ongoing Vietnam War, the riots at the Stonewall Bar, and the Charles Manson murders were also part of that summer. So much was happening that it felt surreal.

And then in early September we arrived in Gambier to find that our dorm wasn't completed and we spent the first six weeks living with community members. (I, and three others, had the good fortune to live with Miss Kate Allen, a lively retiree and daughter of a former Kenyon professor.) Once the upperclassmen returned, some of them as well as some faculty made it clear that we weren't wanted, and we learned we weren't considered full-fledged Kenyon students but rather students of the Coordinate College.

For the most part, we weren't really aware that the lack of dorms, female professors, health services for women, and athletic opportunities for women, as well as lack of respect by some of the community for us and our dean, Doris Crozier, could be seen as a statement. We simply did what new students do: signed up for classes, met our professors, got involved in theater, the Collegian, and other activities, and made the college ours. That first year was intense at Kenyon as well as nationally, with the school year ending shortly after the Kent State massacre and the subsequent protest in Washington in which many of us participated.

Only about seventy-five of us graduated from Kenyon in 1973, although most who left graduated from other institutions. Those of us who stayed are pretty devoted to Kenyon but, in some ways, we're still processing our experience as the first class of women. So to all 150 of us who started in the fall of 1969, I couldn't let this fortieth anniversary pass without a remembrance of that singular season on the Hill.

—Julie Miller Vick '73

Spirited, provocative, informative

I was immensely proud to read that the Alumni Bulletin had received the Robert Sibley Magazine of the Year Award from CASE. Of course, it came as no surprise. Kenyon's magazine is wonderfully spirited, sometimes provocative, and always informative. It also never fails to exemplify good writing, while somehow conveying the essence of Kenyon in every story. As someone who sees a lot of college magazines (I work for the president of another highly-regarded small liberal arts college), it was good to learn that I am not alone in my esteem for the Alumni Bulletin.

From the issue that included the story on the Old Kenyon fire (which made me weep) to the recent one highlighting "Family Squabbles" (which made me laugh out loud), I have loved reading every magazine, cover to cover. Congratulations on a well-deserved achievement. I look forward to many more fine issues to come.

Meredith Harper Bonham '92

Best by far

I just read in the Kenyon News Digest that the Alumni Bulletin was named best college magazine in the country. I'm not surprised.

My son, Sam, is a sophomore at Kenyon, so I've been receiving the Bulletin for about a year. I've been impressed from the start. The story selection, writing, photography, and design are all first-rate.

Before starting Bethesda Magazine five years ago, I was a senior executive at the company that publishes the Atlantic Monthly. During my career I've seen many college magazines. The Bulletin is the best by far.

Congratulations and keep up the great work.

—Steve Hull P'12

Lasting brotherhood

My sincere thank you for sending me the extra copies of the Kenyon Alumni Bulletin. The article involving me ["Out of the Ashes"] was very enlightening and gave me names and information about some of those I cared for the night of the tragic fire sixty years ago—certainly one of the saddest events of my life.

My children received the copies of the Bulletin and were surprised to know their parents were part of such a sad event.

I am still working in nursing, doing health teaching for our local hospital. Our daughter Gretchen (a Kenyon grad) just went into nursing two years ago, so we now have much to share.

Kenyon is a very unique school in that it gives its students a wonderful education and a feeling of lasting brotherhood unknown to most colleges. My husband, Bob, is now in a skilled nursing facility but all his "Delt" brothers still keep in touch with me. Wonderful!

Jacquie McLain P'75 (Mrs. Robert Wales McLain '50)

Beyond nostalgia

Dan Laskin's article, "Family Squabbles," in the Bulletin's Spring/Summer issue, comes close to expressing what we feel for Kenyon—and why—in the following sentence: "We love the place so much, and so personally—love, most of all, the idea that it isn't the real world."

The love one feels for Kenyon is more complex than just plain nostalgia, and all but impossible to communicate to anyone who did not go to Kenyon. No Big Ten behemoth can possibly inspire anything like this feeling: It belongs, uniquely and exclusively, to us.

The squabbles Mr. Laskin reports on reminded me of Robert Frost's explanation of why his poems often seemed negative. He said his writing engaged him in "a lover's quarrel with the world." That is, he hoped that calling attention to the world's imperfections might help to make the place even more deserving of affection.

—Norman Hane '61

Outstanding issue

The Kenyon Bulletin of Spring/Summer was an outstanding issue. Congratulations to the editor and staff.

—Robert D. Hudson '35

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