Enter the debunking article
Letter by letter
As an avid letters-to-the-editor reader of my alumni magazines from
both the University of Chicago and Harvard, I decided to compare
the two groups of letter writers and the contents of the letters
in the two most recent magazines (Chicago’s August/04
issue, Harvard’s September/04 number).
Each magazine has about 15 or 16 letters to
the editor, with the mean graduating year of Chicago alumni as 1958
and the Harvard alumni graduating on average ten years later. This
was based on the first degree earned.
University of Chicago alumni spoke of the past:
of the trains, the chapel, and the teachers of yore. Two letters
on current issues were framed in past arguments on the meaning of
a university and its disciplines as John Henry Cardinal Newman would
debate the issue. The Harvard letters offered comments on current
debates on terrorism, stem-cell research, obesity, fluoride intoxication,
and legacy admissions.
I was surprised at the findings, as my assumption
was that the older Chicago group would offer, with the benefit of
more hindsight, solutions to present problems. Although Harvard’s
letter writers may not have the solutions, at least they were outlining
the beginning of solutions to today’s very difficult problems.
Leonard R. Friedman, AB’56
The University of Chicago Magazine
welcomes letters. Letters for publication must be signed and may
be edited for space and clarity. In order to provide a range of
views, we encourage writers to limit themselves to 300 words or
less. Write: Editor, University of Chicago Magazine,
5801 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637. Or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.