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Spring 2001 Home

Spring 2001

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NORTH 40

 

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Small potatoes


It’s been a long cold lonely winter, we note on our back cover, and when we first wrote that caption, it was for an entirely different photograph. We decided that the bundled-up members of a UMass Outing Club expedition, shown at left at the mouth of a cold, dark cave in Vermont in February, would look just too wintry by the time the magazine reached you in May. So we pulled them back inside. (See story).

     But in fact the caption seemed to work just as well for the photo we used instead: the slightly shivery-looking, spaghetti-strapped back of a student out in search of nightlife on a Saturday in Amherst. (See story.) And – perhaps only because deadlines were looming, and stress-induced head-colds were beginning to circulate in the office – this began to seem strangely significant. Even ominous.

     The staff had already been calling this our Accidental Ice-Maiden issue. How had it happened that in one magazine we’d gotten an ice ballet, ice hockey, and ice melting on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro?

     Coincidence, surely. But now we started noticing things like the picture of Senator Stan Rosenberg outside the Amherst Cinema, obviously extremely grateful for his overcoat (See story). And the description of guests hurrying toward a Memorial Hall gala “hunched against the wind, clutching wide scarves and the lapels of long worsted wool coats.” (Page 44.) Even an item about hiking sticks that look exactly like ski poles! (See story .)

     We started to think it was us. Had an unusually long period of snow-pack in Northampton gotten to us? Was there winter in our hearts, and was it having a chilling effect on the contents of the magazine?

     But enough of this admiring imitation of the paranoid-humorous style of Lou Groccia ’73, whose North 40 essay about the Textbook Annex has nothing to do with ice, cold, or snow.

     In fact there is a certain psychological chill on campus this spring, the chill of uncertainty as the departure of Chancellor David Scott approaches and the search for his permanent successor begins. As is usual when administrations change, several other high administrators are leaving also. Our own vice chancellor, Royster Hedgepeth, quoted in several articles in this issue on the successes of Campaign UMass, resigned in March. Provost Cora Marrett, quoted in our story on the Fine Arts Center, announced as we prepared to go to press in April that she would leave her administrative post.

     Even to write these lines for an off-campus audience, however, is to be reminded of a perennial truth: personnel changes are small potatoes. With the possible exception of the chancellorship, which represents the campus to all who care for it, the status of any particular post is of little concern to most citizens, even most alumni. And that’s as it should be. The life of the campus goes on. The chancellorship is in good hands with the interim appointment of Marcellette Williams. As for the rest, a little uncertainty, like a little cold weather, never killed anybody. Winters end. Our back-cover caption, like the Beatles song it quotes, is really about spring.

Patricia Wright

 
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