Expectations Readjustment Needed
I was surprised that I had a reaction, of any kind, to “Pressure & Proof” [Mar|Apr 2017], considering I was never diagnosed (or misdiagnosed) with ADD/ADHD and have no children as of yet for whom this could potentially be an issue. I do have experience, however, with the stress-inducing pressures of an ambitious, overbearing parent (sorry, Mom), as do many (if not all) of my fellow Penn alums. Maybe the means to tackle this problem of over-diagnosis begins at home, by readjusting the expectations we have for our children. Maybe if the pressure to “succeed” (whatever the hell that means) was kept out of mind—and out of our medicine chests—there could be a more organic path to proper diagnosis.
Lily Stone C’07 Philadelphia
Article Ignored Benefits
We were very disappointed with the unbalanced ADHD cover story in the Mar|Apr issue. We do not disagree that ADHD may be over diagnosed, but we felt that the article seemed to purposely ignore the great help that can come from a proper diagnosis. In addition, the article’s bias seems apparent by the failure of the author [Gazette senior editor Samuel Hughes] to seek directly the views of the pharmaceutical companies regarding their actions. That is not quality reporting worthy of the standards of your publication.
Unlike the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) doctors that the article mentions, when we met Peter Jensen, our NIMH doctor in the early 1990s, he recommended the use of positive reinforcement techniques, therapy, and Ritalin. Our ADD son Robbie thrived with this approach, went to Penn, served on the board of the Office of Student Disabilities, and graduated in 2008. Without Dr. Jensen’s diagnosis and judicious use of Ritalin, we feel that Robbie would have had little chance of getting the accommodations that he needed to excel in his studies and to have a successful career.
Betsy Gifford Gross W’76
David A. Gross C’76 Bethesda, MD
Samuel Hughes responds: I appreciate the Grosses’ point about the very real benefits that their son and others have received from Ritalin and other ADHD drugs, using a proper diagnosis. That’s why I made sure to quote Alan Schwarz’s acknowledgment that “only the cruelest of critics would deny that many children were benefitting” from the diagnosis and the medication. I asked John Prendergast to make sure that sentiment was included in his editor’s column. (“Schwarz made it clear that ‘ADHD is real’ and that drugs often do help those who are correctly diagnosed.”) The key, as always, is a careful diagnosis, and I’m glad their son got one.
I also respect the Grosses’ concern about not giving the pharmaceutical companies a chance to respond, and those companies are certainly welcome to weigh in with one. Given the explosive growth in diagnoses and prescriptions, though, I submit that my presentation of Schwarz’s well-documented findings represents a modest and overdue nudge toward a better diagnostic system.
I do not recall an issue of the Gazette with as many interesting articles as the Mar|Apr issue, or as many highly emotional letters-to-the-editor from all sides of the political spectrum. The emotional highlight of the issue for me, however, was Dave Zeitlin’s masterful article, “Good Ghosts,” about the Palestra.
My first visit there was over half a century ago with my dad. We sat in the last row in the corner, but the view was still great and the atmosphere totally immersive. Later, as a student, I attended games with my two best friends (who are still among my closest friends) and was often hoarse before the game even started.
Zeitlin captured perfectly what the Palestra embodies, and I am grateful to him for reminding me of some of my fondest memories.
David Machlowitz C’74 Westfield, NJ
Thank you for the homage to the Palestra at 90 [“Good Ghosts,” Mar|Apr 2017]. My favorite Palestra memory is the time I was an usher in April of 1966 for an NBA playoff game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics that was moved from Convention Hall due to a scheduling conflict. As a substitute, my position was at the last corridor near one of the baskets. It turned out to be the best place to watch Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain—two of the all-time greats of basketball—fight it out under the rim. As a Boston-bred Celtics fan, the pleasure was doubled as the Celtics won the game, and I was even paid a few bucks to watch!
Another notable Palestrism was the tradition of banners with clever sayings that were rolled out in the stands—often dissing opposing teams that were seated opposite from each other. Once they started getting too raunchy—perhaps due to Yale featuring the Ivy League’s first female cheerleaders—they were banned. (Banners were the real tradition—to heck with TP tossing.)
Marc L. Cooper EE’66 WG’68 Boston
When Kennedy Took the Floor
Dave Zeitlin’s Palestra reminiscence in the last Gazette brought back some Palestra “Ghosts” of my own, although not basketball-related.
My first introduction to the Palestra came as a Penn freshman in the fall of 1966, but it was as a new member of Ted Nash’s freshman rowing team, not basketball, that first took me there.
In those days, before those of us with no previous rowing experience were allowed out on the Schuylkill in those high-end Swiss racing shells, we had to first earn our stripes in the steamy, Stygian basement of the Palestra, where our rowing seats were mounted to the cement floor as we thrashed away with our (wooden!) oars in giant stationary rowing tanks. I expect that I wasn’t the only one down there daydreaming about ancient Roman galley slaves!
A year and a half later, as a sophomore, I had a much different experience at the Palestra. Accepting invitations from both The Daily Pennsylvanian and Penn’s Young Democrats to speak at Penn, Robert Kennedy addressed a standing-room only crowd in the gym on Tuesday afternoon, April 2, 1968. At the time, Kennedy was campaigning to become the Democratic candidate for the presidential election later that year, and his topics during his address included the ongoing Vietnam War, the need for more progress on civil rights, and his view that college student draft deferments should be done away with as discriminatory.
Only two days after Kennedy’s Palestra appearance, Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis. Then, barely two months later, Kennedy himself was assassinated in Los Angeles.
I was in the Palestra during Kennedy’s speech there, almost 50 years ago, and took a photo. I don’t get it out and look at it very often. My own father died unexpectedly that June, and this photo has always been a somewhat painful reminder for me of that difficult, formative year of 1968.
Thomas Davis III C’70 McDonald, PA
The Palestra Goes to War
Thanks for the nice article on the Palestra, but you neglected to report that it went to war during World War II. I was accepted into the Navy’s V-12 officer training program and assigned to Penn in July 1943. Earlier that year our West Philadelphia High School team played for the city championship. We were not permitted on the sacred floor in street shoes. Imagine my shock when we marched into the Palestra for our first meal and saw hundreds of dining tables with swivel seats screwed to the floor by Horn and Hardart, the caterer!
Oleg Dudkin ME’48 Berwyn, PA
“Good Ghosts” omitted mention of Coach Fran Dunphy’s spectacular career at Penn basketball. He compiled a 310–163 overall record and won 10 Ivy League titles in his 17-year career. Dunphy’s 310 wins are the most by any Penn coach and are second all-time in the Ivy League. His Quaker teams won 48 straight Ivy League games and four consecutive league titles from 1992 through 1996. He is also the all-time winningest coach in Philadelphia Big 5 history. He is highly esteemed both locally and nationally for his character, community service, mentoring, and excellence as a coach.
Sharon Pastor Simson Gr’73 Villanova, PA
The building’s history was the focus of our story, but it’s always nice to be reminded of Penn men’s basketball’s amazing run under Coach Dunphy. —Ed.
Franklin Would Be Ashamed
In its Jan|Feb 2017 issue, The Pennsylvania Gazette faced a certain editorial crisis that might have existed for alumni magazines of other Ivy League universities and many, but not all, liberally-minded colleges and universities across the nation. Like all institutions of higher learning, Penn is of course openly proud of its most distinguished graduates.
On November 8, 2016, a Penn alumnus was elected president of the United States.
However, The Pennsylvania Gazette barely noted Donald Trump W’68’s achievement, in spite of him being the only Penn graduate ever to be elected president, and then it reported it only with a certain grudging ambiguity. I realize that most Penn alumni, many of them living on the East Coast, did not vote for Donald Trump. I also know that the Penn administration and faculty is overwhelmingly liberal. I have been aware for some time that Penn, like most colleges and universities in America, subscribes to what is usually called “political correctness.” Anyone can draw their own conclusions about all of this, and should. It’s a free country.
In its Mar|Apr 2017 issue, the Gazette proudly announced the appointment of former Vice President Joe Biden to its faculty. Penn should be proud about that. But the editors of The Pennsylvania Gazette could only manage a few ambivalent words about the election of a Penn graduate as president of the United States. I think that Ben Franklin, the first editor of the Gazette, would be ashamed of their lack of courtesy to the man and to the office he now holds.
Barry Casselman C’64 Minneapolis
I totally and completely object to this misplaced piece of liberal political propaganda appearing on page 21 of the Mar|Apr issue of the Gazette [“Penn Will Not Bend”]. It is extremely unfortunate that Amy Gutmann has chosen to use the presidency of this university as the pulpit for a political diatribe against President Trump. Her comments have no place in a university magazine.
Moreover, and importantly, they reflect no understanding, none, of what President Trump is trying to do, namely, protect America from terrorism. The university should operate in a non-partisan manner. If President Gutmann wants to be a politician, she should resign from the University and run for office. In that way people who disagree with her—and there are indeed many—can voice their opposition.
Arnold G. Regardie W’56 San Diego
What Would Ben Do?
Alfred Bacon’s letter, “Immigration Laws Have Purpose,” in the Mar|Apr 2017 issue, brought a wry smile to my lips. He asks how the University administration and President Gutmann can make a policy of not cooperating with the law enforcement agencies of our country; do they really support civil disobedience; do they advocate selective enforcement of our laws? Then he imagines the chaos that would occur if everyone obeyed only those laws he or she agreed with.
Substitute “Ben Franklin and the Founding Fathers” for “University administration and President Gutmann,” and those sentiments could well have been penned by King George III and dated around 1775. It seems we didn’t completely defeat the Tories after all. Thanks to President Gutmann and the University administration for having the courage and moral convictions of your Founder.
David B. Harris C’66 North Adams, MA
US President, Not Penn’s, Sets Immigration Policy
The Mar|Apr 2017 issue of the Gazette proudly mentions President Gutmann’s public criticism of President Trump and his immigration policy. Clearly, she is entitled to her opinion. However, the President of the United States has the constitutional (Article 2) and the statutory (S1187F) authority over immigration policy. The President of the University of Pennsylvania does not.
We are a country of citizens, not immigrants. The US president’s primary responsibility is to protect the lives and interests of the former, not the latter. President Gutmann’s position, although well-intentioned, is arguably illegal and unconstitutional. Consequently, she may be exposing the University to government financial sanctions and retribution. One of the primary responsibilities of a university president is to safeguard the financial well-being of the institution. Good intentions are fine, but we must be aware of their unintended consequences.
R.D. Stabile CGS’02 Philadelphia
Immigration Order Protects US Citizens
I first commented about Trump early in the campaign, before he was the nominee, and asked if the University and the Gazette were prepared for the possibility of a graduate becoming president. There was no answer until finally I received a response that it was not the policy of the Wharton School “to comment or engage in public dialogue, including social media, about students.”
Fair enough. But in the current issue, we have no less than Penn President Amy Gutmann doing just that, criticizing President Trump’s immigration order [“Gazetteer,” Mar|Apr 2017]. She mentions that she is the daughter of Jewish immigrants and how immigration strengthens the fabric of our nation and that immigrants constitute a precious natural resource. Well said and certainly true, but in recent years a major part of the immigration population are refugees from countries that are at war and have virtually no effective government.
Back in the day when your president’s parents immigrated, there was no “vetting,” or need to vet, except for health concerns—that was the only check made. Now we need to be concerned about those who do not wish us well, and may be entering to plan for or do us harm.
The decision by the judge (actually two decisions) stops Trump’s order and, in effect, grants US Constitutional rights to refugees, despite the fact they are not US citizens. This is regrettable and will undoubtedly be overturned by the Supreme Court.
Just as “Penn Will Not Bend” the USA will not bend in making sure that all citizens are protected and kept safe from those who wish us harm.
James Lincoln WG’69 Alexandria, VA
Extreme Insult and Censorship
As were many readers [“Letters,” Mar|Apr 2017], I was quite surprised that, for the first time in history, a Penn alumnus was elected President of the United States and there was absolutely no mention of it in the Jan|Feb 2017 issue of the Gazette. One letter-writer referred to it as “poor journalism,” but I’m afraid it is far worse than that. At the very least, it is an extreme insult to a graduate of our University, but more disturbing, it is an example of censorship that has no place at Penn—or any other institution devoted to learning and truth.
When Donald Trump was elected President, I remember thinking, “How is Penn going to deal with that?” Well, I never dreamed that Penn’s way of dealing with it would be not dealing with it at all. What an embarrassment to the entire university community!
Perhaps most troubling, is that this also suggests a culture of repression and intimidation at the Gazette. I cannot believe that at least a few members of the editorial board did not express how completely bizarre it would be for an alumni magazine not to at least mention the election of one of their alumni to the office of President of the United States. Where are their voices?
Thomas E. Miller C’78 Mamaroneck, NY
Farce Would Become Tragedy
I could restrain myself from commenting on the silliness of stuffed animals for students distraught by the election results, and I could easily withhold comment on President Gutmann’s public stance against President Trump’s Executive Order on immigration as it resonated with my personal history, but seeing that the editors of The Onion have infiltrated the Gazette demands a comment.
How else can one explain the hilariously ludicrous words ascribed to Gutmann that “Joe Biden is one of the greatest statesmen of our times,” or the laughable reference to “his unsurpassed understanding of diplomacy and far-ranging grasp of world issues”? As former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates observed of Biden, “I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
I call for the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate The Onion’s manipulation of the Gazette’s editorial board. Of course, these could be President Gutmann’s sincere views on Mr. Biden, and farce would become tragedy.
Edward G. Stafford C’79 Brigantine, NJ
Gadzooks! I didn’t realize how fragile President Gutmann’s Penn had become. After 277 years, in just 90 days: educational opportunity, intellectual discovery, and global engagement all weakened.
Hold those donations; it’s too late!
Steve Sovis WG’70 Marblehead, MA
Values and Standards Eroded
As I anticipate my 50th reunion this May, I have observed closely how values and standards have eroded or been turned inside out, especially at my alma mater.
Joe Biden has been described by Amy Gutmann as “one of the greatest statesmen of our times.” This is simply silly on its face. Clearly, he has been invited to Penn for the ideological positions he represents. It cannot be for his academic or character credentials. In fact, Biden is one of the greatest plagiarists of our time. There was a time when this would be a total academic disqualification.
The first documented case is when he received an F in a course at Syracuse University Law School for plagiarizing a paper. Subsequently there have been numerous well-known plagiarisms of other politicians, most notably a speech of British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock. When this and other like issues were disclosed, Biden had to withdraw from the 1988 race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
I assert that in 1967 a person of Mr. Biden’s “qualifications” would not have been given a teaching position at Penn.
I have kept this brief as a “letter-to-the-editor.” Further documentation of these and numerous other incidents are easily discoverable. I cite the August 25, 2008, issue of Slate magazine. This can hardly be construed as a right-wing hatchet piece.
Bill Lohmeyer W’67 WG’73 Smyrna, GA
Having read your recent letters relative to Post Inauguration Stress Disorder (PISD), the root cause of people’s consternation seems to be the integrity and surety of our national election process. So, I would suggest the following law for national election candidates (this mirrors the process for hundreds of thousands of federal employees):
• Establish minimum criteria. I would suggest a PhD in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) for president and Senate; and degrees in Law, MBAs, and relevant fields of study for the House;
• All candidates should have a full field background investigation consisting of criminal, credit, motor vehicle, income tax, and resume verification checks;
• Adjudication of results should be managed by a politically independent organization, such as the FBI or Secret Service;
• Polygraph examination that would focus on national security and lifestyle (such as “have you or any member of your family financially benefited from your political office, aside from your basic salary?”); and,
• Investigative elements should be reinvestigated on a five-year cycle.
Out of our current 536 national politicians, only two hold advanced STEM degrees—very sad. I would postulate that these standards would eliminate the majority of national office candidates, but once we go through one cycle of this application, stuff in this country would be straightened out, right quick. I have worked for STEM PhDs for the last 25 years, and know this to be true.
John Piper G’00 G’06 Haymarket, VA
It is good to see that The Pennsylvania Gazette finally showed its true colors regarding Donald Trump; or perhaps it took that long to accumulate so many negatives.
Thomas W. Burnham W’67 Ruskin, FL
Ending with a Bang
PBS broadcast a biography of Trump that stated that as a young child when sent to birthday parties, he started food fights. In working with children, many with special needs and emotional disturbances, for going on 50 years, I have never heard of such savage behavior. Trump was then sent to the toughest military school they could find in upstate New York, where he thrived on the discipline. To me there is a good deal of sadomasochism in the cultures of military schools. Clearly Trump identified with the sadistic culture. One distant flyover was about the fact that he attended the Wharton School at Penn. Given the obscene videotapes where he proclaimed his proclivity of assaulting women sexually for fun, small wonder that it was not thought appropriate to include such details of his youth.
While working with his father in the construction business, Trump had a “mentor,” the notorious Roy Cohn, who ran witch hunts for Joe McCarthy with Trumped-up (pun intended) “evidence” provided from the “secret” files of J. Edgar Hoover. So effectively, Trump is channeling three of the most evil, destructive men in the US during the mid-20th century.
Roy Cohn’s style was to attack, never admit a mistake, and to be as aggressive as possible. Sound familiar? At one point, Trump and his father were charged with discrimination for not renting to African Americans. The Trump “team” response was to sue the federal government for $100 million. My guess is that somehow the charges went away. Such a response is consistent with Cohn’s relentless, remorseless aggression. A group of women came forward publicly during the election campaign and accused Donald Trump of having assaulted them sexually. His response was to say that he did not recognize or know any of them—which is a segue into his mental functioning now.
Trump’s father was grandiose in his old age and died at 83 of dementia. At 70, Donald is not too young to be exhibiting symptoms of dementia, as he has inherited genes for the disease. Donald confused 9/11 and 7/11, meaning that he was disoriented to time, place, and name, the three spheres of reality-testing evaluated during assessments of mental functioning. He tweeted that Paris is in Germany and asked voters to cast their ballots for him on 11/28.
Trump has refused to attend daily security briefings, as he said he did not want to listen to the same words every day for the next eight years, suggesting that his memory and language functions are limited to recognizing a few words and phrases, but neither context nor narrative. Another example is his preferred mode of communicating via Tweets, demonstrating that his attention comfortably lasts for the duration that it takes to produce 140 characters.
Now Trump has announced an open-door policy, so anyone who wishes to speak with him can walk in. As Trump’s capacity for attending, memory, and language use are so limited, such unpredictable interruptions assure that he will understand even less than the severely limited information he can process already.
As he continues to outdo himself, Trump asked in March for an inquiry into his allegations that Obama had phones tapped at the Trump Tower. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has opined that such an allegation may rise to the level of the Nixon/Watergate scandal, if not beyond, as a president accusing another president of a crime without any evidence is considered to be a felony. FBI Director James Comey, who smeared Hillary Clinton during the campaign, requested that Trump’s request for an investigation be disregarded, in and of itself a graver lapse in protocol than when he provided Hillary’s emails to disrupt her campaign.
Of course Trump is going to be aggravated because the information he can remember and process is mostly personal and emotional, as opposed to being factual in nature. So, he expresses anger, acting on pure emotion rather than presenting any reasoned facts. I will insert my personal opinion here: 140 character Tweets constitute a severely impaired standard for logical, reasoned dialogue.
I invite those who wrote to the Gazette opposing the tone and facts of the articles and letters to consider Trump’s observable, describable actions and ask themselves if they feel safe knowing that we’re talking about someone whose fingers rest on the Noo Kyuh Ler button. That’s ending with a bang!
David Herman G’71 Elkins Park, PA
Keep It Quiet
I think it would be best not to emphasize Trump’s connection with Penn. As his presidency moves towards barking madness, it is not in our own self-interest to dwell on his matriculation at Wharton.
Julian Grauer GCP’77 SW’77 Philadelphia
Pennsylvanians Should Be Proud
It is disappointing to read your current issue of the Gazette and not see anything about the current president of the United States. Notwithstanding your political persuasion, you should recognize the fact that a graduate of our University was duly elected to the office, and we should be proud Pennsylvanians.
Mickey Littmann W’56 New York
No Trump Cover, Please
I am writing to commend you for your reason and restraint in refusing to do what some sorely deluded letter-writers suggested [“Letters,” Mar|Apr], namely, feature the current president on the cover of The Pennsylvania Gazette. Although Trump attended the Wharton School, I surmise that he applied what he learned from his father, and the fortune he inherited, rather than what he learned from America’s best business school.
As president, Donald Trump has demonstrated the humanity of a toad, and the intelligence of a person afflicted by Alzheimer’s or worse. Would that America had cared enough and had the will to impeach him for incompetence.
Lorrin Philipson Willis CW’68 Cary, NC
Liberal (and Unacademic) Prejudice
With all honesty and objectivity, please accept my congratulations for producing an outstanding magazine!
With that said, I belong to the 50 percent of Americans who voted for an unconventional Republican and Wharton alumnus to disturb all of the Washington establishment, and attempt to rectify partially the pitiful performance by our government over the past eight years.
It would seem to me that a person and staff of your talents and innovative abilities, in spite of the monotonous liberal (and unacademic) prejudice the Gazette and University continue to endorse, could find a genteel, objective way to acknowledge the presidency of a Penn alumnus.
Edgar H. Hendler CE’50 Lansdale, PA
Thank you for not showcasing the odious Donald Trump. Contrary to several readers who chide you for ignoring what they regard as Penn’s biggest current story, I regard him as an embarrassment to the University, the United States, and the civilized world.
Less than two months into the White House, this so-called president yells, brags, insults, and lies unabashedly in crude, thuggish speech that in no way represents any of the refined professors I knew. Do you suppose that his classmates remember him with fondness? Not likely.
I look forward to returning to the campus in May for my 65th Reunion with classmates who are still among my closest friends. With luck, we will survive this psychotic administration and reune in another five years proud to have elected politicians who are a credit to our nation.
Emily Pritchard Cary CW’52 Scottsdale, AZ
To the Point
Here’s a response to the letters in your Jan|Feb 2017 issue from Joe Ryncavage C’76, Jim Scott G’98. and Marcia Hirtenstein W’77: Piffle.
Stu Mahlin WG’65 Cincinnati
You opened the Mar|Apr “Letters” by commenting that “most of the letters we received for this issue …”
I counted those letters published in the issue and saw:
One letter from a 1940s alum; two letters from 1950s alums; four letters from 1960s alums; 12 letters from 1970s alums; two letters from 1980s alums; and one letter from a 2000s alum
So, I wonder:
Would it be accurate to conclude that alumni from the 1990s to 2016 seldom write to you? Or are the “older” graduates simply more interesting observers of general interest topics? Do the opinions expressed by “older” graduates reflect today’s viewpoints?
Suggestion: make an in-depth analysis over several issues of the Gazette and write a story about alumni letter-writers.
George W. Nordham L’52 Orlando, FL
Keeping the Record Straight
“Protecting ‘Negative Heritage’ in Rwanda” [Jan|Feb 2017] mentions “the collapse of the World Trade Center” and “Flight 93,” while omitting the fact that they were both the result of the 9/11 terror attacks. Someone reading the article in another century might wonder if the disasters were caused by structural defects in the WTC and mechanical failure in the plane.
The article also erroneously states that “the home of the girl whose murder inspired ‘Megan’s law’ was razed … and turned into a park.”
Correction: the home that was razed was that of the child-rapist and murderer who lived across the street from seven-year-old Megan Kanka’s family, and which was also the scene of the brutal rape and murder. Thank G-d we haven’t reached the moral bankruptcy of razing the homes of victims, but if we continue in the rosy path of avoiding mentioning crimes and their perpetrators, and blurring the distinction between criminals and their victims, we might get there.
Aaron Kadron W’86 Modiin, Israel
We deeply regret the error with respect to Megan Kanka’s family home; it was indeed the house of her killer that was razed. As to the reference to the World Trade Center and Flight 93, while it’s impossible to predict what will happen in a century, today those terms are indelibly associated with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and it seems highly unlikely any reader would be unaware of that fact. Deliberate falsehoods and conspiracy theories spread on the internet regarding the events of 9/11 are another matter.—Ed.