Rotunda Reborn

It was such a delight to see the new magazine with the new refurbished Rotunda spotlighted. I have many fond memories of that beautiful structure, as my grandfather’s office was there for many years. He was E. I. Carruthers, the bursar of the University [1912–47]. He and my grandmother lived at 24 East Range. I loved going to stay with them, sleeping in the trundle bed in the guest room, playing Junior Commandos all over Grounds and roller-skating through the arched hallway under the south portico. My grandfather would come out and tell me to “stop all that racket!” The skates along the brick flooring were particularly noisy. Later, when I believe my grandfather’s office had moved to the side of the Rotunda, I remember visiting Adm. William F. “Bull” Halsey Jr. there several times with my father, Thomas M. Carruthers (Col ’24). The Rotunda was my playground, the magnolia trees were excellent for climbing, the steps in front provided a game and the dome room was magic. The restoration looks magnificent. I do hope to visit in the near future.

The Rev. Carol Carruthers Sims (Educ ’75, ’79)
Keswick, Virginia

 

The “Rotunda Reborn” article was fascinating and beautifully photographed. The Rotunda was a work in progress when my son graduated in 2013, and I look forward to seeing the renovation. On a side note, Arthur Spicer Brockenbrough [the University’s first proctor] and my husband’s third great-grandfather were brothers, so that was an additional connection we enjoyed!

Ann Burke Anderson (Darden ’85)
Oxford, North Carolina

Honor Undergoes a Full-Scale Review

Reading the letters in the Fall 2016 issue expressing outrage over changes to the Honor System really opened my eyes to just how little these alumni actually reflect on what they are saying.

You’d think that UVA had just said, “Nope, cheating’s fine now, go ahead and do it.” Of course UVA has done no such thing, and the concept of “moral relativism” has played no role in the debate of recent years.

I keep reading this notion that the end of the single sanction [of expulsion as the sole punishment for all Honor offenses] would be the end of teaching students that dishonor is intolerable.

This is, of course, nonsense. In fact, I’d ask the alumni this: Is the only reason you were honorable that you were afraid of being expelled if you weren’t? If your answer is yes, then perhaps you must reconsider whether or not you were truly honorable. If your answer is no, then why would removing the single sanction suddenly change your honorableness? If it wouldn’t change yours, why would it change the honorableness of other students?

The reality is the Honor System is a flawed system run by flawed human beings. Some students are wrongfully convicted and expelled. Others are effectively rewarded by lying their way through the process.

Some students are convicted and expelled because they were never effectively taught what plagiarism is.

If you need to expel students to prove you (and other students) are honorable, then you’re not really honorable. Good riddance to the single sanction. It has far outlived its usefulness.

Sam Leven (Col ’07, Law ’10)
Herndon, Virginia

 

From my first day on the Grounds, when we received a stirring lecture on the history and meaning of the Honor Code, I always felt that this was a distinction of our University that should be preserved. I am distressed to think that it is being challenged. Let’s preserve the single sanction.

John S. Lillard (Col ’52)
Lake Forest, Illinois

 

I write this letter so the Honor Audit Commission and alumni will be more aware of how postmodernism is gradually transforming UVA into another state university where right and wrong are relativistic with no objective standards, and where tolerance replaces “The Way of Honor, the Light of Truth,” which gave rise to the traditional Honor Code that I and pre-1972 students agreed to uphold—when lying was lying, stealing was stealing, cheating was cheating, and keeping one’s “word of honor” was trustworthy.

Postmodernists have been using linguistic constructs (which I italicize) to create “Honor’s new vocabulary” at UVA, where Honor juries have become “student panels” and verdicts have become “decisions,” as your story (“Modern Honor,” Summer 2016) reported.

A revisionist postmodern Honor Code cannot develop truly honorable leaders. UVA’s traditional Honor System has proved it does inculcate “The Way of Honor” in leaders who have the “Will to Work for Men.” Should the University become just another state university, without a distinctive Honor System, what will make it distinctive? Why would it attract the best students? Would Thomas Jefferson put “Father of the University of Virginia” on his epitaph should postmodernism’s politically correct agenda replace the premodern and modern traditions of right and wrong at UVA?

William A. Gray (Col ’65, Educ ’67)
North Saanich, British Columbia

Curriculum Changes

The article [“Change of Course,” Fall 2016] is not clear as to what the content of the “core” curriculum will be. No outside reader can guess at what is meant by “engagements, literacies, disciplines and the major,” but the phrasing does not make any reference to Western history or literature, sciences, philosophy or economics. Sadly, many universities are succumbing to offering students a smorgasbord of mush. One need only see interviews on campuses to be appalled at the ignorance of the basic framework for learning and meaningful thought. So many of the offerings are so vague, so specialized, so trendy as to almost be a joke. Many courses may be narrowly focused as a student pursues a particular field. But with nothing fundamental on which to grow, students are at risk of graduating with some vacuous degree but unable to identify basic facts or questions.

When “literacies” mean, as the article states, “world languages, rhetoric for the 21st century, and quantification, computation and data analysis,” it sounds like overblown gibberish, with no core. Should any person educated at Mr. Jefferson’s University graduate without some basic familiarity with American history? Or without having read the Constitution and the Federalist Papers? Or without exposure to Shakespeare (as opposed to some frivolous “modern” poet or author just because of trendiness)?

It has long been a criticism of many medical doctors that they know nothing but science and chemistry, and little of the greater world. While I cannot divine what is contained in the regime being tested, I greatly fear that it, like proposed changes to the Honor Code, is leading downhill, not up.

Richard H. Gill (Law ’65)
Montgomery, Alabama

Eat to Compete

I noticed that the soccer player’s diet seems to be rather minimal when compared with the calorie amount stated. I feel that presenting her diet as reaching 2,500-3,000 calories a day is very misleading. With such non-calorie-dense foods, four egg whites would be less than 100 calories, and unless she is eating an entire watermelon I would hesitate to say her portion would be more than 100 calories. One hundred grams of shrimp (about a quarter pound) is about 100 calories. This could send the wrong message to other young women and, particularly with eating disorders on the rise, this type of misleading information can be very damaging. Presenting this as a well-balanced and healthy diet for a nonathlete might be OK. But clearly, as a collegiate athlete, Morgan should be consuming more than the average woman.

Adele Byrne
Atlanta, Georgia

A Flight Forgotten

The Aviator statue commemorates James Rogers McConnell, a UVA student who fought and died in World War I Stacey Evans

I enjoyed the piece about James Rogers McConnell [Fall 2016]. As an alumnus of Beta Theta Pi at the University, I would like to add that he was a member of the Omicron Chapter of that fraternity and is recognized by its members as an important alumnus. 

Michael Axetell (Com ’01)
Fernandina Beach, Florida

 

Very interesting and well-written article! I always found the statue fascinating because of its off-centered appearance, and I was a big fan of Icarus. I’ll always associate it with pulling all-nighters in Clemons.

Ashley Morse (Engr ’15)
Laurel, Maryland

 

Thank you for retelling this good story, bringing back such happy memories of my time in Charlottesville so many years ago (as I walked into and out of Alderman, where I studied and worked as a student assistant).

Guy St. Clair (Col ’63)
New York, New York