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 Letters to the editor may be used for publication unless the author states the letter is not to be published.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.

The departed and the new arrivals

I found two articles in the Winter 2011 Alumni Bulletin of particular interest, the one about the Kenyon cemetery ("Plot Summary") and the one about the incoming Class of 2014 (in "Along Middle Path").

As I am research chair of a small historical society in a tiny hamlet in upstate New York, I found the human interest background of the graves in the Kenyon cemetery to be fascinating. Many persons buried in our cemetery were born in the 1700s, but inscriptions do not contain as much personal information about the deceased as the Kenyon cemetery seems to have. I do not remember being aware of this cemetery when I was dating my late husband (Ed Haseley '53).

The statistics on the incoming class show how much Kenyon has changed since 1952, when I first met Ed at a mixer associated with a conference on the Kenyon campus. Your article says the incoming class has 480 students, 55 percent of whom are women. When Ed was a student, the entire college had only 500 students and they were all males. [Editor's note: The student population ranged between 350 and and 521, averaging fewer than 430 students.]

What I didn't see in your article was additional demographics about the incoming class. Ed's classmates were all better-off financially than he was; it was a very expensive college to attend. As the son of a blue-collar worker from a family who had no college degrees, he was able to attend Kenyon only because the College recruited him and offered him a full scholarship. He worked in the dining hall, and after his summertime earnings ran out, his little radio spent the rest of the year in "Banker Brown's" vault, where he pawned it until the following fall when he had funds again to redeem it.

—Janet Haseley

Ripe old age

I was delighted to find Wendy MacLeod's article on the College cemetery in the Winter 2011 Alumni Bulletin. I work down in the Kenyon archives and recently began a project adding some information to our database on the cemetery gravestones. (We found a publication from 1902 providing some information for gravestone inscriptions that had been illegible when the database was created.) I quite enjoyed the article, but I'm afraid I must inform you of one small error: Alfred Blake, Kenyon's first graduate, did not die in the prime of his life. Born in 1809, he died in 1877 at the ripe old age of sixty-seven, and some of his descendants are buried in the College cemetery as well. Beyond this little error, the article was great!

—Caroline Crowell '11

Outclassed by girls

In response to "An Indelicate Balance" (Winter 2011), let me say that as a member of the Class of 1969, thus having the dubious privilege of graduating the last year of an all-male Kenyon, I'm here to remind readers that while the energy level of a testosterone-soaked Middle Path encouraged some interesting and occasionally creative behaviors, I'm quite sure that Kenyon as a coed college is far more civilized.

I taught in multi-graded elementary rural classrooms for more than twenty years, and I have a suggestion.

Would you like to increase male academic scores, reduce high-school dropout rates, stop the over-placement of boys in special education, cut down on male encounters with law enforcement, and increase male college enrollment?

If so: Boys should start school a year later than girls.

Boys mature more slowly than girls, both intellectually and physically. In elementary and middle school, boys are hopelessly outclassed by girls and push back against powerful female teachers and classmates. This manifests as academic struggle and endless self-defeating behaviors. Worst of all, it can lead to a lifetime of unconsciously belittling women. It is becoming more and more challenging to grow up male in this culture and find meaningful things to do. The societal costs are staggering.

Honoring the different rates of development and "readiness" by gender would radically change outcomes for the better. At least give William a chance to learn to read at roughly the same rate as Jessica. The system we use now is locked and loaded for male failure.

—Kurt Lorenz '69


The story in the Bulletin about gender differences ("An Indelicate Balance") could have used more balance. The piece was deeply premised on the notion that male undergraduates are tuning out and falling behind their female peers. The article cites a difference in GPA with a modest level of statistical significance. Boys and girls in late adolescence learn differently and gravitate toward different fields of
study. There's insufficient attention paid to the physiological, physical, and cognitive differences between men and women, which is a driver of academic and intellectual disparity.

The story also emphasizes disciplinary problems as another example of male deficiency, but never specifies the infractions by the nature of the offense or isolates them to demonstrate any trend. Cheating, underage drinking, and vandalism are inherently different misdeeds.

I remind readers that cohorts of male alumni are modeling excellence in work and public life. I point to the example of several young alumni editing and contributing to The Good Men Project, a pilot online magazine and forum for engaging men constructively on issues of civic and public importance. I would also hold up the example of Shaka Smart '99, an emerging leader in college basketball coaching, who won accolades for his upstanding disposition and mature approach to the game as he helmed the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams to the doorstep of a national title.

—Ted Eismeier '08

Editor's note: See our story about Shaka Smart.

Corrections for the Winter 2011 issue:

  • "Gambier is Talking About" reported that Ransom and Stephens halls are fully accessible. While Ransom, home to admissions, is accessible thanks to a new elevator, Stephens Hall, home to the office of financial aid, is not.
  • "In & Out at Kenyon." The correct name for the neuroscience course mentioned as a trendsetter is "Neuroscience of Space, Film, and Play," and the correct number of students enrolled was sixty-three. The major of Steven Suway '11, who was quoted in the story, was incorrect; he is a neuroscience major.

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