Letters to the Editor
I wanted to send a note of appreciation for the magazine’s recent article on "Medicine for the Soul." My parents relocated from Florida to Virginia a few years ago. Last January, my mom was rushed to the UVA Hospital’s neurology unit. I returned to Charlottesville not as an alumna, but as a worried child. In the face of uncertainty and despair, a hospital chaplain provided hope and support in the waiting room. The hospital chapel provided a space for calm and prayer. I will always remember the generosity of spirit and connection provided by that chaplain. Please pass my gratitude on to the dedicated clergy at UVA Hospital.
Anne Dewey Goodnow (Com ’86)
Further Reflections on Honor
I am sure that, on at least one occasion, in the debate on the changes to the Honor Code, that someone quoted Mr. Jefferson’s words that are placed at the entrance to the University. “For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.” The first part of this statement provides the philosophical foundation of the Honor System itself. The single sanction of the Honor Code stands in stark contrast to the second part. Mr. Jefferson understood that people make all sorts of mistakes and there are no qualifiers in “tolerate any error.” Informed retraction does not degrade or dilute the Honor System. It broadens and deepens it by embracing Mr. Jefferson’s concept of redemption.
Peter Storey Pentz (Col ’78)
Recent changes to the Honor System have been cause for reflection in many UVA alumni. I believe it is important for all involved to remember and stress one central point: the Honor System always was, currently is and always will be a student run system. It is to be noted that all UVA students have always received the Honor System as an inheritance in good faith from their forebearers. Despite this, they may do with it as they please.
Men and women from my and previous generations have mixed feelings with respect to these events. One thing is certain. The Honor System as we knew it, like the antebellum South from which it was born, is surely “Gone with the Wind.”
Dr. Kent R. Donovan (Col ’76, Med ’81)
Since we are so fond of quoting Mr. Jefferson, let us recall that he once stated, in a letter to John Wayles Eppes, that “The earth belongs to the living, not to the dead.” And while I (and presumably many other alumni) hope not to depart this life any time soon, we would do well to recognize that, no matter how fond we may be of the Honor System, we are no longer the ones most affected by it.
With this in mind, I will not begrudge the current student body if they wish to adapt an antebellum system so that it can survive in the 21st century. Although I am not sure if informed retraction is the best route to take, I am willing to grant them the benefit of the doubt. Otherwise, we may as well also insist that the curriculum that worked in the past will always suffice in the future, no matter how much the world changes.
Philip H. Whitman Jr. (Col ’04)
Newport News, Va.
I will from time to time come across one of my undergraduate English papers and marvel at the drivel that I wrote at 19. The importance is, although it is drivel, it had not been plagiarized or “interpreted” from other writers. It was my genuine drivel, honest and paid for.
It saddens me that an Honor Code that has been in place for more than 150 years has been given a new spectrum of shading through “informed retraction.” Whom do I congratulate for developing the concept of Honor Lite?
Gil Faccio (Col ’61, Educ ’63)
“First Person” Inspires
Yesterday at a UVA facilities management town hall meeting attended by more than 300 employees, Don Sundgren, our chief facilities officer, was talking to us about our mission and the need to be positive about change. He wrapped it up by telling everyone about Hattie Agee’s “First Person” article in the Virginia Magazine and read the first and last paragraphs. You could have heard a pin drop. Then the auditorium gave Hattie a great round of applause. Thank you for helping people see the wisdom and the great sense of humor that could have been overlooked.
Betty Wooding, UVA Facilities Management
I have shared Hattie Agee’s wisdom and “close to the bone” way of speaking in the “First Person” feature of the summer issue of UVA Magazine. I have read it out loud to a select number of people, all of whom have said some version of Amen! And, so, thanks be to Hattie, to you and blessings to all who love this fine University.
Kay Mantiply-Clark (Nurs ’79, ’83)
The “Not Gay” Chant
In the UVA Magazine, I was shocked to see the full-page advertisement: “We need to put an end to the ‘not gay’ chant at Virginia football games.”
I applaud the distinguished sponsors of the notice for their step to address this deplorable state of affairs. However, unless there are more serious steps being taken, this printed notice is wholly inadequate. In my opinion, this is a matter demanding stern discipline against any student(s) participating in this childish and debasing behavior, however that may be best accomplished—up to and including suspension.
Thomas G. Mosher (Arch ’68)
Flipping through the latest issue, it was with great surprise that I saw an ad that stated in very simple language: “We need to put an end to the ‘not gay’ chant at Virginia football games.”
This message came with endorsements from the Virginia Football Alumni Club, the UVA Alumni Association and the Office of the President. I know that many alumni and students out there must think: “What’s the big deal? It’s just a few words that have become part of a school spirit song—no harm, no foul.” But for a young gay man (or woman) struggling with or trying to make sense of a sexual identity that is different from most of his peers, to hear a stadium full of people shout “not gay,” the message comes through loud and clear. What we hear from the crowd around us is: “We are not gay, we don’t want to be gay, gay is not a good thing, and don’t associate us with anything that is gay.” Over the course of four years, the “not gay” chant is heard a couple of hundred times by students. It does make an impact. Thank you to the Office for Diversity & Equity and the LGBT Committee at UVA for running this ad. Let’s make 2013 the year that we put an end to the “not gay” chant at Virginia football games.
Zell Murphy (Engr ’87)
I lived at 232 Harrison Hall, near the Law School [when located in Clark Hall] and Monroe Hall. Three floors with four suites on each floor, normally with three students in each suite. Each suite had a study room (some with a fireplace), a separate bedroom and a shared bathroom with the adjoining suite. What happened to them? They were not mentioned in the article titled “Beyond the Names.”
Roby Craft (Com ’52)
Satellite Beach, Fla.
Named for Gessner Harrison, professor of ancient languages, Harrison Hall is now part of Brown College.—Ed
I remember fondly my year in McKim Hall and was sorry its namesake’s history wasn’t included. Are there others in “The Used-to-Be Dorms” category?
Beth B. Joosten (Nurs ’74)
Designed by the University’s Architectural Commission in 1930, McKim Hall was originally a dormitory for nursing students and now houses administrative offices for the Health System. It is named for its major donor, Dr. Randolph Harrison McKim. Other “used-to-be-dorms” include Randall Hall (now offices for College of Arts & Sciences deans), Monroe Hill (now the Brown College principal’s residence) and Buckingham Palace (now a Carr’s Hill guest house).—Ed.
I read that the “new” Alderman Road dorms, built in the 1960s, have been torn down and replaced partly because “the construction wasn’t good enough” and because there were problems with “deteriorating concrete.” It is hard to imagine an institution like UVA, with significant in-house engineering and architectural expertise, could allow substandard construction that would survive only 50 or so years.
Warren Tate (Engr ’68)
It was with curiosity and then dismay that I read a recent letter in which the author, a native Californian, said “I found it difficult to stomach the social do’s and don’ts of UVA’s and Charlottesville’s treatment of African Americans” during her time at UVA (circa 1987). I grew up in Charlottesville and Albemarle County during this time period (I graduated from Western Albemarle High School in 1987 and attended UVA from 1987 to 1991), and I have no idea what this person is talking about. Never did I get the sense in all those years (either at UVA or in the community) that African Americans were discriminated against in the manner this author describes. Race relations were not “awkward” nor were there any unwritten rules on socializing with “people of color.” I was never instructed by anyone to think of others of different races differently because of their race, nor was I made to feel uncomfortable in my myriad associations and friendships with people of diverse races. Indeed, I never gave race a second thought nor witnessed others do so in a manner that would suggest some form of generalized racial insensitivity characteristic of the area or University. While I don’t doubt the author’s sincerity about her experience, I think it is clearly the exception and not the rule. I dare say that it reinforces the concept that one’s perceptions may be unduly influenced by the lens with which they gaze upon the world, seeing and hearing what they have been conditioned to expect and not what is actually there.
Geoffrey Weiss (Engr ’91)
Falls Church, Va.
The “Stab in the Back” speech given by Franklin Delano Roosevelt at Mem Gym, featured in the summer issue, is one speech I featured in my spring 2013 University Seminar (USEM) titled Great Historical Speeches. Last semester, I took the entire USEM class over to Mem Gym to find the exact location where FDR stood, based on a photo of the event. There, the students read passages from the speech with the intent of deepening their understanding of the importance of this historic address in its immediate context and the rhetorical elements FDR used to make it one for the ages.
They were also surprised to learn that other significant speeches, such as the addresses by James C. Southall and Daniel W. Voorhees, July 3 and 4, 1860, respectively, on the topics of democracy and American citizenship, were given here on the brink of another war that would impact the University a great deal. In the waning years of the Cold War, Ronald Reagan gave one of the final speeches of his presidency from the steps of the Rotunda on December 16, 1988. It’s important to tell these stories in our community. Although our history is unquestionably linked to Mr. Jefferson and the original cast of his mind, the depth and breadth of UVA’s impact on American culture, aside from Jefferson, is considerable.
Assistant professor, McIntire School of Commerce
There is an unfortunate omission in the Rotunda roof story, “A Roof With a View,” which appears in the Summer 2013 issue. That story includes a list of the many groups that have worked on the project, but does not include a crucial participant whose work has been instrumental in the project’s success. The architect for the project, John G. Waite Associates, Architects, in Albany, N.Y., first began consulting on the Rotunda in 2005, when the historic structure report began. This firm was eventually retained for the roof project and along with its consulting structural engineer, Robert Silman Associates, should have been included on the list as the project’s design professionals.
Jody Lahendro (Arch ’82)
UVA Historic Preservation Architect, Charlottesville
Thomas Jefferson Society
On May of this year I attended my fourth meeting of the Thomas Jefferson Society of Alumni. This group of alumni is open to anyone who has reached the 50th anniversary of his or her graduation.
The reasons for returning are increasingly evident to those who come. First, you can meet up with old friends and catch up on pleasantly fulfilled lifetime experiences, current interests and reminisce about the good old days. Second, you can learn about what is new at the University, but also enjoy the obvious fact that the best aspects of our intellectual culture and Honor System are intact. Third is the opportunity for older alumni to participate in continuing intellectual opportunities. We enjoyed various presentations from faculty, ranging from University history to the latest innovations in medicine.
Over the three days, I took strolls around the Grounds, up Rugby Road and to the Corner. As I passed a pavilion on the Lawn, I remembered the very first day I ever saw the University. It was my last semester in high school, and I had the opportunity to come to Charlottesville and meet President Colgate Darden. I mentioned that I wanted to come as a pre-med student, and maybe go on to medical school there. He said that was a fine, and doable, ambition, but in my college years I should focus on a liberal education, as well as my pre-med sciences. He said the most important thing the University did was develop an open and discriminating mind. That was the important thing for the individual and for society. Now, almost 60 years later, I continue to grow more grateful to Mr. Darden and the University for making me that kind of person. I know how universities are being increasingly stressed to turn people out for specific jobs. I also take great pleasure in the fact that, from listening to President Sullivan, and from observing the University and attending the wonderful presentations at the Thomas Jefferson Reunion, we have not forgotten Mr. Darden’s admonition.
Dr. Tom Connally (Col ’58, Med ’62)
During the anti-war demonstrations on Grounds when I was a second-year student in 1970, the Alumni Association sent a telegram to every underclassman’s parents. This telegram called upon parents to urge their sons and daughters to behave and not cause trouble. My parents had never before received a telegram and were alarmed by it and called me. Whereas I had been under the impression that we were treated as and expected to behave as adults, I was completely insulted and shamed by this telegram from the Alumni Association and vowed then to never join that organization. We were being treated as children who need parental discipline. I would reconsider joining if the Alumni Association would print this telegram and the story behind it and publicly apologize for sending it.
Steven C. Lowe (Col ’72)
We were unable to locate a copy of the telegram, which was sent by the Alumni Association on May 9, 1970. However, in his book Mr. Jefferson’s University, Virginius Dabney includes portions of the telegram, which was sent to parents in response to student protests on Grounds that occurred in the days following the U.S. invasion of Cambodia and the Kent State killings. Dabney’s description of the telegram’s content is as follows: “‘Call your son or daughter expressing confidence in them to act thoughtfully and responsibly in this critical situation.’ The message said that students and outsiders were using the war in Southeast Asia ‘to demand that the University be closed down,’ and that ‘we feel this is no solution of the problem ... The administration is determined to do all it can to avoid violence, to keep the University operating while maintaining orderly and free discussion. Whether these objectives can be accomplished rests primarily with the student body.’” —Ed.