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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
Winthrop, Massachusetts

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:



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