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Bostonia: The Alumni Magazine of Boston University

Spring 2009 Table of Contents

Letters to the Editor

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

Second Acts

I enjoyed reading about my fellow BU grads who gave up stable jobs to pursue their dreams (“Act 2,” Winter 2008–2009). I followed a similar path when I gave up a tenured professor’s position to become an acupuncturist and later launched a company of herbal skin-care products. I can say without reservation that there is almost nothing better than doing a job you love. In fact, the only thing that is better is helping others while doing a job you love. Each of your subjects is beautifying the lives of others through their callings. That makes “work” an avocation and a privilege, rather than just an occupation.

Mike Arsenault (CAS'92) Ipswich, Massachusetts

These are all wonderful stories about people discovering a new career or their “passion,” but what about people who are not investment bankers or lawyers and may not have the means to easily start their own cookie companies? I’d like to hear more of the struggle in changing careers when you don’t have a well-padded savings account, especially in this economy.

Andrea Acevedo (CFA’02) Student, Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, London, England

Thank you for your excellent article “Act 2.” It is refreshing and encouraging to read about my fellow alumni considering what has purpose and meaning and following that lead in their professional lives.

I too left my first career for more fulfilling work. I practiced law for eight years before moving into business consulting; my practice now focuses on counseling leaders in business to make the best decisions they can and to be more effective, productive, and satisfied.

When I was a young lawyer, a mentor once told me that no one ever on his deathbed wished he had billed more hours. There is more to life than generating revenue. Even if we enjoy our work, if we do it only for profit, it will grow old quickly. Personally I liked my work as a litigator, but I made the choice to pursue work that is more aligned with my skills and purpose. I encourage my clients to consider what they enjoy about their work and what they want their contribution to be, and then use that as fully as possible to be most effective in their careers and in their lives.

The bottom line is that my fellow alums and I are fortunate to have options — and have the courage to exercise them — as we move toward what is meaningful.

Andrew Cohn (CAS’86) Wynnewood, Pennsylvania

PTSD and Military Culture

Reading in “When Mommy Comes Marching Home” (Fall 2008), about post-traumatic stress disorder in women from military sexual trauma (MST), that MST is nearly epidemic in the armed services and that in VA screenings for MST mandated since 1992, 20 percent of servicewomen report sexual assaults or threatening harassment compared to only 1 percent of men, it feels very much like reading about treatments for a vaccine-preventable disease while ignoring the need for vaccination. From anecdotal reports, it is obvious that the military turns a blind eye toward sexual abuse of women and that like excessive alcohol drinking, it is seen as part of the military culture. There has been plenty of time since 1992 to affect the culture. If there were zero tolerance for harassment and sexual abuse of women in the armed forces, those rates would fall. There is no excuse for tolerating a preventable trauma to servicewomen.

Ruta Jordans (SON’78) Lubec, Maine

Have any PTSD researchers considered that perhaps those individuals who can wage war without just cause, kill and maim to further the political agendas of rich men hiding behind desks, and then return to normal life without batting an eyelash are the deranged ones? PTSD victims are experiencing a sane human reaction to what they have seen and done.

Rachel Lerner (CAS’85) Sicklerville, New Jersey

The News vs. the Freep

In Caleb Daniloff’s informative profile of Stephen Davis (CAS’70) (“From Axl to Zep,” Winter 2008–2009), he refers to the BU News as a “predecessor” of the Daily Free Press. Not so; the only relationship between the two publications was mutual hostility. The Free Press was aligned with the University administration and was published in the College of Communication’s building at 640 Commonwealth Avenue. The News sharply opposed the Vietnam War, the prevailing culture, and the University administration and was told to leave BU property in 1970. It set up shop in an abandoned gas station across the street from the George Sherman Union and continued to publish thoughtful diatribes, brilliant photography, and proto-Onion satire.

It’s worth reading Famous Long Ago by Ray Mungo (CAS’67) to get a sense of the people who made the News the unique BU institution it was. News staffers who came after Mungo and Davis had great examples to follow.

David Frail (DGE’71, CAS’73) Monroe, Connecticut

Knowing Oneself

Andrew Bacevich is not only brilliant, but he is dead-on in his social commentary (“Freedom Isn't Free,” Winter 2008–2009). He can provide inspiration to all in terms of his courage in looking at our individual self-interest and our self-interest as a nation. It is not possible to grow without self-reflection and self-criticism. As a people and a nation, we merely delay the inevitable by avoiding those tasks.

Rick Shapiro (CFA’78) West Hartford, Connecticut

Cheering Parker

We’re so fortunate that we have had Jack Parker as the coach of BU hockey (“The Iceman Stayeth,” Winter 2008–2009). He has made the winters here a lot easier to take (if that is possible) for all BU supporters. I don’t think Jack has received all the recognition he deserves in the local sports press since we have to put up with this “pro and BC town” mentality. However, because of Jack and the great success he has brought to the hockey team, many more people know about BU nationally and even internationally. Whenever the Beanpot is on, I hear from alumni in other states about the large number of people who watch it across the country. And, with the Internet, more and more people worldwide can follow Terrier hockey. Thanks to you, Jack, we now have the best hockey facility and maybe the best arena in the country. I’m sure I speak for thousands in thanking Jack for all he’s done for us and maybe the top college hockey team in the country. Go BU!

Clark Broden (CAS’64) Framingham, Massachusetts

European History

As an alum living in Poland, I feel compelled to respond to the last comment in William Prince’s letter (“Letters to the Editor,” Fall 2008). Perhaps he isn’t keeping up with recent history. Democracy has been in Eastern and Central Europe for almost twenty years already (with the exception of Belarus and Russia), and we aren’t “stuck listening to a socialized version of the Best of Abba on our car radios.” What’s new and hot is here, not to mention that there are a lot of awesome musicians in this part of the world doing original music in Polish, Czech, Ukrainian, and English. A few of them are even BU alumni.

I would also like to say that Caleb Daniloff wrote an inspiring obituary for Allan Macurdy (“Faculty Obituaries,” Fall 2008). After reading it, I was very sorry that I never had a chance to meet such an amazing person. It’s too bad that such a distinguished and active voice for the disabled has been stilled — humanity in general needs a perspective on life such as Macurdy’s. He was right – we are a society that only counts what’s on the outside, and as a result, we often miss true beauty.

Sheri Torgrimson (CFA’89) Warsaw, Poland

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