War Stories

The report on the “New GI Bill” (President’s Letter, fall 2009) brought back memories! The campus discussions about “men on campus”—quite a shift for Sarah Lawrence College for Women, as it was called when I first came. We all wondered how it would work, but we certainly were willing to give it a try. Amazing to look back at those times.

Yes, Bates was not noted for “fine dining,” and all agreed the College must have inherited a Brussels-sprout farm. For this sadly overcooked, steam-heated vegetable appeared, what seemed, nightly. What a great day when we got toasters instead of steam table toast, to go with our apple butter, the only spread that was not on ration stamps. Thanks for bringing back all those memories.

He Really Likes It

I am one of those who consistently bitched about the old alumnae/i magazine reading like an old fogies’ club rag. Another scone, anyone? That old magazine reflected my SLC experience NOT AT ALL.

Imagine my surprise, then, to discover that you finally listened to me (sure, you did...) and shook up the magazine so it now suddenly seems vital and questioning and running on all cylinders. It is intimate and intriguing, illuminating past and present with equal verve. It’s so terrific, it actually paints Sarah Lawrence as being noteworthy for being more than just the most expensive campus in the country. Keep up the excellent work!

… We must recognize, even at Sarah Lawrence, that change always invites complaints. But please remember: Sarah Lawrence has always been a school that embraces controversy. Complaints are merely temperature gauges proving that SLC is doing its job.

Conservative Position

I’m a sophomore at Sarah Lawrence and I can’t tell you how happy “Living with the Liberals” (fall 2009) made me. I have never taken a seminar with Jeff Adams, and I had no idea he was a conservative. As a political moderate (with mild right-wing sympathies), I appreciate the recognition you gave to a faculty member who’s part of a nearly invisible minority.

You got me interested in taking his course on intelligence-gathering for next year. I’ve actually held back from taking politics classes at Sarah Lawrence, fearing they would advance certain ideologies that just confirm most students’ worldviews.

But it seems as if students are more than willing to learn about less ideologically charged topics (like espionage, etc.), or simply perspectives they haven’t considered. The popularity of Jeff Adams’ class is reassuring. Perhaps more exposure to the other side is what Sarah Lawrence needs. We can’t have an open dialogue when this exposure consists of Palin spoofs and watching people like Pat Robertson, Ann Coulter, and, well ... the crazies of the bunch.

As one of the 15 percent non-liberals lurking here, I just wanted to thank you for sharing his story.

Veterans with Benefits

I was at one time a first lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps and served in Vietnam in 1970-71. I was surprised to discover that both the senators and President Lawrence didn’t realize that Vietnam veterans did in fact have GI Bill benefits which included education (“A New GI Bill,” fall 2009). I returned from overseas and with the GI Bill attended Chapman College (now University), earned my BS, and later attended a full year of an MBA program.

… As a Vietnam veteran I did not appreciate the “Quiet Time” photo on page 39. The photo and commentary is another description of the time, but I don’t think it was appropriate in the same magazine with a letter from the president regarding increased admissions at SLC for veterans. … The chosen photo is another reminder of the political problems that made our return so difficult. Vietnam veterans have paid a dear price for the freedom of free speech, and it would be great for once to not always be reminded that so many were against the war.

Editor’s Note: It’s true, the GI Bill did exist after Vietnam, but no efforts were made to enhance the education benefits that had been established after World War II. The Yellow Ribbon program, in contrast, represents a substantial improvement in education benefits for veterans.

Another Voice Discovered

In the late ’60s, newly arrived in NYC to a new job and a new marriage, I was introduced to Esther Raushenbush and her brainchild, the Center for Continuing Education. As a divorced single mother who married very young and had missed going to college with my peers, I had pursued a degree part time in night classes in Philadelphia.

I enrolled in the Center, still as a part-time student, and was literally amazed at the different “feel” of the College. Most impressive was the sense that the College really valued women, an experience that I had not encountered in other institutions of higher education.

I couldn’t stay to finish in the traditional manner, but when I moved to accompany my husband, I was able to work my contacts from Brandeis, where I attended classes for the first time as a full-time student. So, I was able to graduate from SLC and then go on to win a place in the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s “education and social policy” track.

I’m now in my 80th year, retired from several wonderfully fulfilling careers into which I always brought what I learned at SLC about teaching and learning. So, this issue of the magazine again put me in touch with the unique and wonderful opportunity given me, and indeed everyone who has the good fortune to come to SLC.