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Bostonia: The Alumni Magazine of Boston University

semesterYear Table of Contents

Letters To The Editors

Bostonia welcomes readers’ reactions and encourages expressions of opinion,
pro and con. Submit your letter below.

They Also Pray

The article “Prayer Is Back” (Winter 2007–2008) included just about everyone but Protestants, some of whom, as I understand it, also pray. We are introduced to ideas on prayer from a Muslim, a Jew, a Roman Catholic, a Hindu, even a Wiccan. Your selectivity, so very politically correct, omits ideas on prayer from every mainline, and some not so mainline, Protestant denomination. Why? Though I’m not a Methodist, certainly they deserve a bit of coverage, inasmuch as they were the founders of the University.

Duane A. Walker (STH’57) Carlsbad, California

I was so delighted when my quarterly copy of Bostonia arrived. I turned immediately to the story on prayer. Imagine my disappointment when not a single Protestant student was interviewed.

I understand that these students are not as organized as some others; nonetheless, surely an enterprising reporter could track down two or three. Protestants are diverse among themselves — one might talk with an evangelical, someone from a mainline denomination, and, perhaps, a Mormon or a Jehovah’s Witness.

An institution of learning should respect its own history — we owe much to the stalwart Methodists who founded BU. I remain hopeful that sometime this year Bostonia will publish a follow-up story with interviews from other students regarding prayer. I am confident that my sentiments are shared by many alumni, some of whom may not write.

Margaret Clarke Littleton, Colorado

Cuba Revisited

Thank you for posting my previous long letter on your Web site and for the chance to comment on the article about Cuba quoting Professor Susan Eckstein (“Explorations,” Summer 2007): that country has been ruled by a gory dictatorship for half a century, prompting a veritable diaspora, notwithstanding the tyranny’s U.S. intellectual apologists. Pre-Castro Cuba, despite its admitted faults, did not suffer mass emigration; on the contrary, it welcomed millions of immigrants (like my father), and far more Americans lived there than Cubans in the United States. But communist Cuba’s “party line,” uncritically adopted by Eckstein, trivializes the escapees’ endless flow as tantamount to ordinary economic “emigrants” from any country. 

My Chilean-born wife, María, a college professor, and I resent the sociologist’s parroting of the anachronistic regime’s cheap propaganda.

Eckstein is entitled to her biased opinion. But we are shocked by her insensitivity to a struggling Hispanic minority. Perhaps Bostonia might be more perceptive in future reports, though we long for the day when Cubans will need not flee in order to enjoy the basic freedoms denied to them by the Castro brothers’ brutal

Anthony Martin (MET’67) Mullica Hill, New Jersey

Forced Labor

When my wife, Ellen (Johnson) Razgaitis (CAS’04), started midwifery school, I bought her a button that said, “Birth is not a medical condition!” At the time, I was entirely unfamiliar with the birth process, and the statement seemed ridiculously elementary.

As I’ve come to learn through my wife’s experiences, mothers are often transformed into patients, and their natural behaviors are turned into emergencies and reasons for dangerous interventions.

Cynthia Buccini’s interview with Jennifer Block (“Perspectives,” Fall 2007) brings to light a very important issue. Birth seems to have become a taboo subject, and I’ve been surprised at how many women are uninformed about the birth process.

As a midwife’s husband, I’ve absorbed enough information about birth to consider myself more informed than many of   my female colleagues.

I’m glad to see that Bostonia is willing to take on the topic of birth and to shed light on how “unnatural” a process it can be.

Darius Razgaitis (CAS’02) Bronx, New York

Pulp Lives

In true pulp fashion (“Sex, Crime & Videotape,” Winter 2007–2008), I am cranking this letter out in under five minutes.


As a true pulp crazy (reader, historian, you name it), I have sold a few pulps to Bob Lesser and have had Ryerson Johnson as a house guest. I also have two pulp-history books in print: Sports in the Pulp Magazines and Pulp Western.

There was no end to the ingenuity of the pulp storyteller. Case in point: a well-known pulp writer using the name Borden Chase (acquired from a glance out the window, where he saw a Borden Milk truck parked by the Chase Manhattan Bank) wrote what has been called one of the finest Western yarns ever: Red River. The plot was “borrowed” wholly from Mutiny on the Bounty. Instead of a sea voyage to carry breadfruit trees, a cattle drive; instead of horses, a ship; and so on. A genuine mutiny in each case.

Pulp is still alive and doing well, thanks to the subterranean world of the collector and the help of fanzines and annual conventions.

John Dinan (SED’52) Topsfield, Massachusetts

Stormy Weather

I read with great interest Chris Berdik’s “Bracing for the Storms” (Winter 2007–2008). It is very apparent to me that until scientists, researchers, even reporters stop thinking inside the box, there will never be the breakthrough everyone is looking for. Thinking only according to “operative laws of physics” limits our vision and does not free the mind for the abstract.

To me, the great ones did not think; they imagined. The top IQs of all time belong to artists, imaginers.

Debby Sapper (SED’75) Oakland, Florida

The Problem with Parents

I’d like to respond to the letter from David Saroff (CAS’79) (“Letters,” Winter 2007–2008) about the article “The Really Long Good-bye” in the fall issue, which he concludes by saying, “And you really do not want to mess with the Bear family.” I must agree. I never wanted to see parents.

I recently resigned my professorship at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro after thirty-one years to take a job in a nonacademic institution. When I first started teaching in the 1970s, there was no parental interference at all. I remember my department head telling me to deal with a student complaint about the cost of course materials, which I did handily: “Don’t complain to the head. She is not your mother; I am your mother. Complain to me.” Problem solved, without Mommy or Daddy.

About fifteen years ago, I had a complaining call from a student who earned an F in one of my courses and failed to graduate. I offered to have him take the final exam again; if he passed the second time, I might consider changing his grade, but I couldn’t guarantee that he would graduate. He declined. Again, no parents.

Two years ago a senior who was advised not to take one of my classes took it anyway and failed, and failed to graduate. This time, the student’s mother called to complain. The department head said the student could walk at graduation but would not get a diploma. The mother said that was not good enough and requested a meeting. The head and I agreed that the student should make the appointment. The mother replied that the student could not see us for a month, since she was vacationing in Central America — a graduation present from Mommy and Daddy.

She finally made an appointment to see us in the middle of the summer.

It went like this. Student: “I demand a C.” Me: “No, you earned an F.” Student: “That is unfair.” Me: silence. Department head: “Thank you for coming in to see us.” End of meeting. I later found out that a decision was made to allow the student credit for the course she earned an F in, so she could get her now completely worthless diploma.

Mark D. Gottsegen (CFA’74) Cleveland, Ohio

Pass It On

I appreciate the recent changes in your magazine. Previously, when I received Bostonia, I would browse through it, reading one or two articles, and then dispose of it, because I didn’t feel it would be of interest to anyone other than BU graduates.

In this latest issue, I read most of the articles, which I found very interesting.  I’m also planning to include it with the other magazines I give to our local library. Many of the articles will be of interest to others.

Marianne U. Buddington (SED’61) Culpeper, Virginia

Why They Hate Us

Husain Haqqani, with his Pakistani heritage and diplomatic experience (“Explorations,” Winter 2007–2008), sounds like an excellent candidate for serving the next president of the United States. He has posed questions that, when answered, could lead to solutions to the unrest and violence emanating from the Muslim world. Haqqani’s question at the end of the article, “How can the United States and other Western powers build relationships with the Muslim world without understanding what happens in the Muslim mind?” is one I have been asking myself. The way our government approaches foreign policy with other non-Western governments is bound to fail until a supreme effort is made to reach out with understanding and compassion and not with, “We have the answers to your problems, so just do it our way and you will be fine.”

Marjorie Maher Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Distracting Design?

I have always looked forward to reading Bostonia. It was a study in good journalism and all that that implies. It was as good a read as any literary magazine I receive. Your new format is so distracting, with its two colors on each page and its harsh, unappealing type, that I find it virtually unreadable. I hurried through it skimming the stories and hoping it would change on some page. It is more reminiscent of People than of Bostonia. Is this the future?

LaVerne Kayne (SED’54) Roseville, California

A Job Well Done

One of the things I most enjoy about receiving Bostonia is the wonderful glimpse of Boston it offers. Although I now reside in Atlanta, I still enjoy seeing the Boston landscape and skyscrapers. I also love to read about what students are doing, and it keeps me in touch with my fellow alumni. Keep up the good work.

Renee Atchison (CAS’80) Atlanta, Georgia

Let it Snow

I was seated at my fifteen-year-old word processor composing a letter thanking you for the article “The Search for the Missing Ice Age” (Winter 2007–2008), which suggests that one of the greatest scams of all time, man-made global warming, may be caused by something other than man-made (read: American) pollution, when my wife called me to watch the news on television.

There, on NBC, on January 11, 2008, was snow in Baghdad! First time ever!

Carl Campagna (CAS’52, LAW’53) Roseville, California

Reporting an Abduction

What has happened to the collective noun, the third-person singular, and the subjunctive “might”?

Robert Kelley (STH’80) Reynoldsburg, Ohio

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