Does the Greek letter chi
stand for Chicago?
We are not contributing to the College Fund this year.
We received three mailings this past fall emphasizing the efforts
of the College in enhancing extracurricular activities. The last,
from former Dean Wayne C. Booth, AM’47, PhD’50, suggests
that if “life outside the classroom” were “less
dry and dull” there might not have been the “sequence
of sit-ins” in the Sixties.
Not only is this view of history absurd, it is insulting to those
of us who lived through the period with a mix of what we thought
was conscience and concern. Both of us taught at the University
of California during many of those years. Many University of California
students, at no small risk to themselves, participated in various
political and academic actions even though they surely had no lack
of extramural diversions.
Any university that needs extracurricular activity in the name
of distractions will not be needing financial help from us. There
are too many other institutions, academic and otherwise, that deserve
our sympathy and support.
Murray M. Schacher, SB’62, SM’63, PhD’67
Lance W. Small, SB’62, SM’62, PhD’65
Del Mar, California
Wayne Booth replies:
The letter from Murray Schacher and Lance Small is one of several
I’ve received expressing deep annoyance with my clumsy letter
of solicitation. As I reread my appeal now, I regret that it seems
to blame students for having “plagued”—a terribly
wrong choice of words—my years as dean. I don’t blame
the students. What “plagued” me was the war that led
to the protests. And I was wrong in suggesting that all students
were bored with “life outside the classroom”; the protesters
were not bored but angrily and rightly engaged with serious issues.
That’s why I was usually on their side.
Though I wish I could cancel my letter and write another one, the
writers do misread one main point. Having left the College five
years before I became dean, they mistakenly say that I think the
cause of the sit-ins was that “life outside the classroom”
was “dry and dull.” What I hoped to say, when talking
of the neglect of “fun” outside the classroom, was that
we did too little to stimulate genuinely engaged discussions of
all important issues: that kind of intellectual fun. My guess is
that the College is far livelier in that respect now than it was
If they had been around during my five years, they would never
have read the letter as suggesting that if “life outside the
classroom” had been “less dry and dull” there
might not have been the sit-ins in the Sixties.
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