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Spring 2001

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LETTERS IN PRINT –
SPRING 2001


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To and from the editors

“MEN WHO GET IT”
THANKS SO VERY MUCH for the essay “Big Trouble, Little Pond” by Sut Jhally and Jackson Katz [Winter 2001], and especially for their reply to the editors of Men’s Health. The issues they raised concern me as a UMass alumna, woman, mother, educator, and member of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). It was deeply gratifying to read an enlightened, cogent, and sensitive article by two men who obviously “get it” enough to challenge still-pervasive cultural views of “masculinity” and to be voices for changes which will benefit all of us.

Judith A. Nardacci ’65
Lee

MY STUDENTS IN GENDER and Communication here at Arizona State are probably tired of all of the articles and films by Sut Jhally and Jackson Katz that I make them read or watch. Professor Jhally, in my opinion, does more to curb the backlash against feminism than any other writer of whom I am aware. UMass has a great resource in him.

Sara DeTurk ’92G
Tempe, Arizona

RE: “BIG TROUBLE, Little Pond” I, like so many others, was a victim of rape at UMass. I walked around in fear in the fall of 1999, thinking that someone was going to jump out of the bushes at me. I know now that I shouldn’t have been so worried about stranger-rape. It doesn’t have to be a stranger to be rape, for me it was one of my best friend’s neighbors. This piece shows the other side of sexual violence, which happens in dorm rooms, at parties, and everywhere throughout the UMass community. It gives me hope to see articles like this, and to know that there are men who do care. You have done a wonderful service by printing this article and reaching so many people. Thank you.

Name withheld by request
Amherst


MALE BONDING
THANKS TO SUT JHALLY and Jackson Katz [“Big Trouble, Little Pond,” Winter 2001] for once again saying what needs to be said over and over, until this culture changes. I am proud to be in the same movement as these two eloquent men.
     When I was an undergraduate I had the philosophy that if a woman didn’t want to kiss me, I’d try to kiss her really well. I was confronted by women on my disrespectful behavior, but didn’t want to hear it – I got defensive and claimed I was the victim, of being talked about wrongly.
     As men, we need to get past this kind of defensiveness, whether about our own behavior or that of our gender, and work towards solutions.

Ben Zeman ’92
Framingham

The writer is a community educator for Women’s Protective Services in Framingham and spokesperson for the National Organization for Men Against Sexism (www.nomas.org).

THE CHALLENGE BY Sut Jhally and Jackson Katz to “offer more resources to nonviolent men” is particularly meaningful to us at the Men’s Resource Center of Western Massachusetts. For the past 18 years we have been developing these resources and programs for the communities and campuses of our region.
     Our close collaboration with the Everywoman’s Center has demonstrated what is possible when men and women work together as allies to change a culture of violence that hurts us all. Our magazine, Voice Male, stands in sharp contrast to publications like Men’s Health that Jhally and Katz so aptly critique as perpetuating damaging myths and stereotypes about men who have a special responsibility to do this work.”
     For more information about the center or our magazine please contact us at www.mrc-wma.com or 413.253.9987.

Steven Botkin ’88G
Amherst

The writer is the executive director of the Men’s Resource Center of Western Massachusetts, which he founded in 1982.


RAPE OR REGRETS?
RE: “BIG TROUBLE, Little Pond,” Winter 2001: I agree that rape is a terrible thing. Men of conscience need to be aware that it happens and take an active role in working to prevent it. I sincerely doubt, however, that the majority of men give either overt or tacit approval to any violence against women, whether it be rape or “mere” beatings.
     What bothers me most is the attitude exemplified by a woman quoted in the article as saying, “I was not even fully aware that I had been raped either time until much later.” This does not sound like rape. It sounds like a woman who lacked either the maturity or self-possession to say “no” and had a sexual experience that she later regretted. Whether this poor judgment on her part speaks of ignorance or alcohol is immaterial to the fact that poor judgment is not a crime, nor is it indicative of the criminal guilt of another party. It is simply a mistake from which one hopes the girl has learned better.
     My wife, earlier in her life, was raped. To this day she bears the scars of that attack, including a bite mark. That’s rape, real rape, and in her own words, “To equate violent rape with a one-night stand later regretted is to trivialize the depths of depravity of a true rapist and – far worse in my mind – suggests a woman who realizes the next day she made a mistake suffers to a comparable degree with a woman who is forcibly restrained and violated. I’ve been in both situations, and I assure you that there IS no comparison.”
     Life is full of choices, and inevitably you will regret some of them. Take the regret for the lesson it is on your road toward maturity and, we dare hope, self-confidence and self-esteem. Learn it and move on.

David Hunt ’00
Sandusky, Ohio


STILL GROWING UP ABSURD
FROM ITS BUDDHA cover to Linda Cahillane’s memorable closing essay, your Winter 2001 issue was superb. Kudos to Sut Jhally and Jackson Katz for their provocative “Big Trouble, Little Pond.” Their concern and insight about the rash of rapes and violence at UMass and the country-at-large was truly impressive.
     Missing, however, was an acknowledgment of the swelling economic divide afflicting the country and its wrenching impact on young people. Like the authors, I believe the “mainstream media” is culpable in fostering the excesses alluded to – but they’re also tapping into a preexisting condition. That condition is the seething cauldron where hopelessness and disenfranchisement meet. Until greater resources are devoted to this silent pandemic, asking youth to rethink their definitions of gender will be an endeavor restricted to society’s “haves.”
     The author Paul Goodman explored many such socioeconomic issues in his classic Growing Up Absurd. Though almost 40 years old, alas, it’s still germane.

R. Jay Allain ’73
West Yarmouth


OUR SHARP-EYED READERS
Sorry to report a goof in the Winter 2001 issue. “Time Capsule Memories – ’40s, ’50s, ’60s” includes a picture of a snow sculpture captioned “UMass Winter Carnival, 1950s style.”
     That is a picture of a 1948 Pi Phi snow sculpture. All the students pictured graduated in the ’40s. Maybe the snow sculptures continued into the ’50s, but the caption is incorrect. I am positive of this because one of the students pictured was my roommate at Pi Phi and she graduated with me in 1948.

Edith D. Klein ’48
Frederick, Maryland


COUCH LOX
EVOLUTION? A SHORT article in the winter issue described salmon “evolving” due to the influence of environment [“Fish story,” Around the Pond, Winter 2000].
     Couch potatoes get fat but I wouldn’t call that evidence of human evolution. To loosely use the term evolution is wrong. Adaptation would be the better word.
     What surprises me is that the biologists who did the study were surprised!

Roy E. Landstrom ’60, ’65G
Cumberland, Ohio

The biologists were ill-served by the journalists here. The scientists were impressed by morphological changes – e.g. “increased body depth” – which we described in cosmetic terms: i.e. “fatter.”


LETTERS RE LETTERS
REGARDING ROBERT RUPLENAS’ “Offended by Fund-Raiser” letter [Exchange, Winter 2001]: Perhaps there are those, such as Mr. Ruplenas, who don’t consider an upper management position at MTV an admirable one. Not all of us are out saving the world, as Mr. Ruplenas must be, but many of us find such a holier-than-thou attitude – to paraphrase Mr. Ruplenas – “something less than admirable.”

Kenneth Kie ’96
Worth, Illinois


RE: “HERE’S PEAS in Your Eye” [Exchange, Winter 2001]: Doesn’t anyone realize that Don Glickstein has impugned the ethics and integrity of Professor Ken Samonds by implying that since his research was funded by the canned food industry, Samonds would improperly design and twist the results to suit the sponsors?

Daniel Rosenfield ’53
McLean, Virginia


KENTUCKIANS, WE OWE YOU
I FOUND THE AD on the inside back cover of the last UMass quite interesting [“Ever wonder where we all live?” Winter 2001.]. NONE of us live in Kentucky? I find that hard to believe since I live here and thought we also had two alumni clubs in this state. One was located in Louisville and I believe the other was in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area.

Cynthia Brenner Ellsworth ’77
Danville, Kentucky

Cynthia Ellsworth is right – there are 220 alumni on record in Kentucky. How we lost that line of type we don’t know, but we’re glad to have it back.


MONOMOYANS, YOU TOO
WHERE DID YOU GET that awful map of Massachusetts on the inside back cover? [“Ever wonder where we all live?” Winter 2001.]. As a former resident of Barnstable County, I can tell you that the elbow of the Cape is growing, not shrinking. Where is Monomoy Island?

Bruce Baker ’76
Falls Church, Virginia

The map in our circulation ad (on page 61 this time) is meant to be conceptual, but we’d feel the same as Bruce Baker if we noticed the distortion or omission of a cherished locale. The Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge goes the way of the Quabbin Reservoir in this stock silhouette.


MEET ME IN BILOXI, BUBBA
I WAS INTRIGUED by the ad detailing where all the UMass magazines go. [“Ever wonder where we all live? Winter 2001.] It figures that a preponderance of UMass alumni – especially those who still have dew behind their ears instead of a lot of hair growing out of those orifices – hang out in the Northeast. It also figures that many of those of an age where they’re put out to pasture, seek sunny ones.
     But, although the ad shows 3,792 mags being sent to Florida, for me that demographic heading is partially misleading. More descriptive of my bailiwick is the skimpy sampling of 179 souls located in Alabama. This clime is almost the center – both geographically and culturally – of the “Redneck Riviera,” made famous by that maven of sun and fun, Jimmy Buffett.
     When people say, “Oh, you live in Florida,” they infer proximity to Disney World, the Tampa Bay Bucs or Miami Beach. We have to immediately dispel their error with the disclaimer, “Actually, this is ‘Lower Alabama’ – and Chicago is closer than Miami!”
     Anyway, the demographics in the ad define why there’s no UMass alumni club anywhere within anything short of “take a vacation” reach of my abode. Maybe the 179 from Alabama, the 69 in Mississippi, the 192 in Louisiana – and me – could set up our own chapter. And meet in Biloxi once or twice a year for golf and gambling! It’s a thought.

Ted Raymond ’59
Fort Walton Beach, Florida


PROTECTING THE VALLEY
AS AN ALUMNUS I’ve enjoyed reading your many fascinating articles on a variety of university-related issues. I think it would be interesting to see more features about alums working in the natural sciences – biologists, science teachers, ecologists, environmental educators, and so on.
     A great story right here in the Connecticut River valley really starts with the experience that each student has at UMass. Here they find the intellectual stimulus of the Five Colleges while surrounded by the beautiful agricultural fields of the Connecticut River floodplain, and the forested wonder of the Holyoke Range and Berkshires beyond. This valley is a very special place! Many students come here in part because of the beauty of the area.
     But this place that so many alumni have come to cherish is changing. With the economy booming, commercial and residential development has been advancing at an unprecedented pace. Many natural features of our valley are at risk of being developed! Many areas are already slated or development. Time is definitely running out!
     What can be done to save some of the special places? Enter volunteer, not-for-profit land trusts. These small, grassroots organizations are sprouting up all over the valley. All around the country for that matter. Locally we have the Kestrel Trust, Valley Land Fund, Deerfield Land Trust, Hilltown Land Trust, Franklin Land Trust, and the list goes on. All of these groups raise funds to save land throughout the region. They work in collaborative ways with private landowners, governmental agencies, towns, colleges, to protect open space for people and critters.
     The trusts also work directly with UMass faculty, staff, and students in natural resources conservation, botany, and UMass Extension. UMass has played a key role in protecting critical lands by providing technical assistance, mapping resources, and outreach education. It is really a great partnership!
     UMass folks (with many others, of course) are working together to plan for the future of the valley. We are making a difference right here in Western Massachusetts.

David Ziomek ’85 ’89G
Amherst

The writer is project manager of the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls.


THE POULTRY WORLD
THE WINTER ISSUE of your magazine brings back a number of memories of the Mass. College of Agriculture! Inside the back cover is an illustration showing the various counties for the state. Back in those early days there was a nice building, west of the pond and quite close to the library, that provided a social area for students and visitors, including an area in the basement used for bowling.
     There were a number of rooms on the second floor, some of which were used by people who came to Amherst seeking help and information, usually dealing with agricultural problems, from the different counties. When I returned once in the ’40s someone wanted to use a restroom. When they were located and found as “women” and “men,” the large room between them was listed as “Middlesex!”
     In an earlier issue of your magazine there were statements that indicated the entire state was now considered to be suburban. Thus, in effect, agriculture was no longer of any importance. My interests were in agriculture, stimulated strongly by 4H club activities that, in my case, concentrated on chickens. A member of the faculty did a lot to help such 4H clubs, that included meetings each spring in Amherst. This led me to enter the Agricultural College with the class of 1934.
     I noticed in the earlier issue that efforts were being made to advance 4H clubs – something I strongly approve. At my high school graduation in 1929, I was permitted to present an essay that I prepared: “Agriculture as a Profession.” In it I listed Professor Rice at Cornell “who is considered by his fellowmen to be the most valuable man in the poultry world.” I joined the poultry department staff [at Cornell] in 1935, but as at many other agricultural colleges, support for research, extension service, and teaching related to the poultry industry stopped – in our case in 1991. I have found it difficult to support such colleges.
     I did keep up some contact with the late Fred Jeffrey ’34, who was a grad student at Massachusetts Agricultural College and later joined their poultry department, soon to take over control of the Stockbridge School. He prepared an excellent book – Bantam Chickens (1974).
     It would sure be nice to return to those wonderful days when agriculture involved many families!

Randall K. Cole ’34
Ithaca, New York


REMEMBERING DAVID LIEDERMAN
ONE OF THE MOST UNHERALDED graduates of the university died at age 65 in January 2001. David Liederman ’57 passed away from pancreatic cancer at his home in New York City. David was one of the outstanding child welfare advocates in the country. He headed the Child Welfare League of the United States for many years and was a recognized leader in social welfare policy in Washington and across America. In Massachusetts, David was a state representative, the first director of the Massachusetts Office for Children, and Chief Secretary to Governor Michael Dukakis.
     Everyone who knew Dave found him to be a kind, humane, yet passionate pioneer in the field of human services. As a social worker he understood the needs of children, the disenfranchised, and the poor. He had amazing empathy for all who needed help.
     There were tributes to David in the Washington Post, The New York Times, and in the Boston Globe. He was a very special person and UMass should have many kind words for this famous alumnus – husband, father, grandfather and wonderful friend to so many.

Elaine Siegel Marks ’56
Alexandria, Virginia

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