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      I read with great amusement a letter from alumnus Mark Seifert in the May-June issue, in which he states that Duke's extension of benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of Duke employees is "pandering to the homosexual lobby." "Duke's new policy," states Seifert, "is a ludicrous embarrassment to Duke and Duke graduates and alienates the university from the moral compass used by most Americans."

      While I understand that even Duke graduates can occasionally turn out to be narrow-minded, it distresses me to see an intolerant minority claiming to speak for "most Americans." Some social conservatives, it seems, would like to have it both ways: On the one hand, they continue to denounce gays and lesbians for their perceived promiscuity (a myth propagated by homophobes); on the other hand, when gay couples in lifelong relationships attempt to celebrate their monogamous commitment to each other, they are denounced as "unnatural unions," to use Mr. Seifert's language.

      Mr. Seifert, regardless of your opinion about homosexual orientation (although any gay male or lesbian will tell you that they made no "choice," rather, homosexuality is simply their natural orientation), don't you believe that any two individuals who love each other and plan to spend the rest of their lives together should be concerned for each other's welfare? If you had a lifelong partner who had no health insurance, wouldn't you make every effort to ensure that your partner would be taken care of if he or she had a serious illness or accident?

      This is the main purpose of the domestic partnership movement. Promoting such benefits gives universities, corporations, and other entities an opportunity to have their employee policies reflect social reality rather than the Radical Right's idealized view of what the family should be. According to the 1990 U.S. Census, only 26 percent of all American households consist of a two-parent family with minor children living at home. This means that 74 percent of American households consist of other types of family structures. These other family structures include millions of same-sex couples with a profound commitment to each other.

      Believe it or not, Mr. Seifert, more and more companies are recognizing their employees' domestic partners each year. When I first began my senior thesis on domestic partnership benefits in 1992, approximately seventy national, public, and private employers recognized same-sex domestic partners in their benefits policies. Today, hundreds of employers are doing so.

      Although Duke does so at the potential risk of losing contributions such as Mr. Seifert's, it is another example of the university standing up for its principles in the face of opposition from the ignorant and the intolerant. I am proud of my alma mater for once again doing that which is just, rather than doing that which is politically expedient. I have also met many Duke alumni, both straight and gay, who share this view.

      You can be sure that Duke's move will be a definite plus in terms of my expected contributions to Duke, as well as the contributions of many other alums. My sincerest regards go out to President Keohane and the board of trustees. May we continue to demonstrate in the future that Duke is a leader of social norms rather than a follower of them!

      Darren Spedale '93
      Washington, D.C.

      The letter writer co-chairs the D.C. chapter of the Duke Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association


      Robert Plummer's complaints about a so-called immoral agenda and rejection of Judeo-Christian morals at Duke (July-August "Forum") just plain stuck in my craw. Jesus' second commandment is "Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself." He didn't qualify this statement ("thy heterosexual neighbor") and neither should we.

      Your incisive and compassionate coverage of important issues of our time and the Duke policies and actions mentioned by Plummer are clearly in line with the mission of the university and the highest moral standards. Keep up the good work.

      Mark Smith B.S.C.E. '73
      Chapel Hill, North Carolina


      In response to Robert Plummer's letter in the July-August issue ("Immoral Agenda"), I wish to say: I am a gay man, I am an alumnus, and I DO NOT AGREE! Equality, fairness, tolerance, and inclusiveness, these are the terms which, in my opinion, define true morality.

      In my view morality is also found in commitment, sincerity, and loveŃthings which I share with my partner. These values are exactly why the university is doing the right thing when it reaches out to treat gay men and women equally and fairly. I hope and pray that President Keohane will stand strong against ignorance and hate. And I urge the university to continue on its very moral course!

      Loren B. Mark J.D. '84
      Omaha, Nebraska


      In its most recent issues, Duke Magazine has published two letters that oppose the changes in university employee benefits. The authors believe President Keohane is leading Duke away from its mission toward immorality by supporting benefits for partners of homosexual employees. This is an insulting conclusion.

      What irks me most about these letters, however, is the lack of focus on the central issue. Instead of addressing the policy itself, the authors launch an undisguised attack on homosexuals. It is easy to toss a moral hand grenade from the safe distance of a letters column. It is far more difficult to look the lesbian or gay employee in the eyes and say, "Sorry, but in spite of your contribution to Duke, you are not worthy of full employee benefits."

      So let me direct the discussion back to the central issue: recognizing the value of compensating employees for their contributions to Duke University. Under the traditional policy, the spouse and children of a heterosexual employee were given benefits. Why would Duke spend resources on people who didn't provide a direct contribution to the university? Answer: Traditional wisdom and experience tell us this resource allocation is good because it adds to the overall well-being and security of the Duke employee. If your family is happy and provided for, so are you. The changes to the benefits policy simply acknowledge that this well-being and security should be extended to every Duke employee, regardless of sexual orientation.

      I suggest that President Keohane has deftly separated the emotional issue of homosexuality from the issue of social fairness in university policy. Traditionalists should take comfort in this because she has replaced moral relativism with a policy that is timeless.

      Atis V. Zikmanis '80
      Simi Valley, California


      In response to Robert L. Plummer's recent letter condemning the university for recognizing and accepting homosexuality on campus, I'd like to say that I for one commend President Keohane for the direction in which she is leading our school. In our society, where politics has become hate-based and some prominent national religious leaders are increasingly preaching those politics of hate, it makes me proud that Duke has risen above the fray to accept people as they are and as they want to be, and to allow those views to be represented on campus. Despite Mr. Plummer's claims, this is neither antithetical to Duke's religious foundations, nor dangerous to the morals of society. Duke alumni should stand tall knowing that the Duke community reflects the diversity and culture that make up not only our nation, but the world.

      In his letter, Mr. Plummer cites the basis of his argument as the plaque in the center of Duke's campus. The plaque sets out the aims of Duke as "to assure a faith in the eternal union of knowledge and religion set forth in the teachings and character of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." What Mr. Plummer seems to forget is that Jesus Christ was a loving, forgiving man who taught and preached those ideals. Those teachings, coupled with the quest for knowledge and a broad-based education, demand that Duke accept the ideas, philosophies, and experience of everyoneŃnot just Christian heterosexuals. What a narrow, close-minded institution it would be if Mr. Plummer's interpretation prevailed: There would be no Islamic, Buddhist, or other non-"Judeo-Christian" religious studies, and we would only be exposed to the experiences of straight, white males.

      In my view, what President Keohane and the university are doing is precisely the goals the memorial plaque in the center of campus extol. I congratulate Duke for living up to all my high expectations.

      Karin Newman Kreuger '87
      Arlington, Virginia



      I would like to offer a resounding second to many of the thoughts in "Sharing Paths Never Imagined" in the July-August issue. Six women from the Class of 1963 (Meredith Parsons Reeder, Carol Ramsey Turpin, Betsy Miller Fuller, Phoebe Welt Kent, Sherer James Easa, and Amanda Wright Smoot) have been sharing our own reunions. We represented two sororities at Duke (Kappa Kappa Gamma and Alpha Delta Pi), two dormitories (Bassett and Pegram) where we were suite-mates, and we were equally divided between Yankees and Southerners. We knew we had "bonded" at Duke, but we had no full knowledge of the depths of our friendship until we started gathering as grown women.

      Our first reunion was in 1985, twenty-two years after graduation. We had kept in touch with each other, some of us had seen each other, but we had not been togetherŃall six of usŃuntil then. We relived the joys and hilarities of college days, but quickly moved on to who we were in 1985, and found that we loved each other even more than we had at Duke.

      We had two more reunions in intervening years and kept in closer touch with round-robin letters in between. Our most recent reunion was just last July. This one would prove to be a watershed experience for all of us.

      Sherer James Easa had been fighting breast cancer for several years. Now we knew we would have to say goodbye to her. We met in the mountains of North Carolina, but she was too ill to come to us, so we drove to another mountain town a few hours away, where she was being tended to by her husband and sister. It happened to be her fifty-fourth birthday. In spite of her weakened condition, we CELEBRATED. We had cake and presents, but mostly we had the joy of making her laugh at our remembrances. We shared silly gifts that we always bring to reunions, we showed her pictures of our families, and we were able to hug her and stroke her and compliment her on the way her hair was growing back.

      Then the five of us would go back to our hotel and cry, but we would also laugh, be silly, and tell jokes. Mostly we gloried in the way friendship was moving to a more profound level than ever before. We were literally in the middle of a life-and-death struggle and we were loving each other through it and taking strength from our companionship.

      We left Sherer on Saturday, July 21. Little did we know that only a week later she would be mercifully released from this life. The five remaining ones had recognized that we have been partners in a life-changing experience. We are determined to keep our reunions, and we know that when we meet, we will still be six because Sherer is so much in our hearts.

      Amanda W. Smoot '63
      Radnor, Pennsylvania



      I was fascinated by Taylor Sisk's article about Dick DeVenzio ("Pay for Play?") in the July-August issue even though spectator sports have little interest for me. As an undergraduate, I attended only one football game and left at half-time. I missed the basketball season altogether.

      I now encounter collegiate sports only through the problems they raise in the university where I teach. There is an ongoing discussion about admissions standards, behavior in residence halls of student athletes, the cost of training facilities, the need for new stadiums, etc.

      The consistent answer to the obvious question "Why have intercollegiate sports programs?" is divided into three parts: 1) Inter- collegiate sports provide a pathway to a better life for disadvantaged inner-city African Americans; 2) The public relations value to the university is so significant that enrollment surges are often explained by the success of teams in national championship play; and 3) A well-managed sports program brings significant revenue to the university.

      Setting aside the "pathway for the disadvantaged" for a moment, public relations value translates to "free advertising," and, if advertising is essential to a university, then we are back to revenue. So, two-thirds of the reason for sports is income, and Mr. DeVenzio is right on target.

      The first point is much more interesting to discuss. It is, of course, obviously true that an African-American child who grows up in an inner-city neighborhood and who is able to attend college and go on to attain personal satisfaction and garner financial awards has accomplished something remarkable in a society where the leading cause of death among its young men is homicide. Do intercollegiate and professional sports contribute to such success stories in significant numbers relative to the size of the population?

      I think it is instructive to examine the image of the professional athlete as a role model for pre-teen children to see whether aspects of that role model reinforce the values that help children respect the academic setting. Do we see athletes off the courts and playing fields reading books, entering into informed discussions about the issues of the day? Do their televised performances rely on some intellectual achievement or mastery of a body of knowledge acquired in the classroom? Do they work effectively in groups? Do they enjoy mathematical games and puzzles? The laughable nature of such questions provides a quick answer.

      Professional sports hold out the artificial promise that if an above-average person plays ball well, he will get a lot of money and have nice clothes, fast cars, and an exciting and glamorous life. Professional sports cannot support very many athletes and do little if anything to encourage students to persevere in the classroom. It is more likely that they encourage students to look for shortcuts or an easy path to wealth.

      Perhaps someday we'll have all the sneakers and T-shirts we can use, the office betting pools will have made everyone rich, and beer production will be unable to keep up with demand. Then, perhaps, people will find other ways to use their capacity to have interesting lives besides watching sports on television. Until then, why not pay the student athletes what they are worth? Let them have agents and unions and lawyers. In some small way, an open financial system as described by Mr. DeVenzio will bring some truth to academe, where it ought always be welcome.

      Maurice Wright '72
      Wyncote, Pennsylvania



      Bridget Booher sabotages the important topic of university finance ("Biting the Bullet," July-August) with whining, illogic, and unasked questions. She states, "Memories of splendid isolation, when students and faculty learned and taught in an atmosphere of genial camaraderie, are obsolete." Such "splendid isolation" is at the core of the problem with universities, which have too often detached themselves from reality. When did "genial camaraderie" replace the omnipresent intellectual tension that has existed at Duke for thirty-plus years? Finally, how has reduced congressional funding cause her idyllic image of campus life to become "obsolete"? The latter question is never addressed.

      Ms. Booher implies that the media share the blame for spoiling the fun, because it provided a forum for conservatives who questioned the direction of education (how dare they!), and also publicized the financial scandals regarding government reimbursement of indirect costs. Rather than provide any rebuttal to these criticisms, she dismisses conservative concerns as "crowing" against "so-called political correctness."

      Her discussion of Duke's efforts to bring administrative costs under control stops short of the mark. No ratios comparing trends of administrative costs to number of students or to tuition dollars over the past twenty to thirty years are presented. Such statistics would put current cost-cutting efforts into perspective. The disproportionate increase in tuition compared to inflation is ignored, as is the problematic lock-step rate of tuition increase among the major private schools.

      If Duke is serious about costs, I suggest that it take advantage of its own resources. What better project for students of the Fuqua School of Business and their professors than to take on the re-engineering of Duke's operational infrastructure? If incentive is required, offer to reimburse Fuqua with a percentage of the savings it creates!

      Separately, Taylor Sisk's article "Pay for Play?" links Joe Smith to UNC; he attended Maryland. UNC lost two sophomores (Wallace and Stackhouse, I believe) to the NBA.

      J. Christopher Smith '72
      Bethesda, Maryland



      It has been a pleasure for years to receive and to read Duke Magazine, but this time in writing I must express my appreciation, respect, and gratitude for publishing those memoirs of Professor Joel Colton ("Occupation and Affirmation: Postwar Germany"). Please forward to Professor Colton this honest statement of mine (being German, at the age of thirteen in 1945, living even at Passau at that time when Professor Colton was there, too).

      Professor Colton analyzes Nazism and Nazi Germany in a very true way, without hurting the better side of Germany. At the same time, he points out the very beginnings of German postwar democracy and growing wealthŃthings that were tiny germinating plants in 1945-46, but clearly seen and described by Professor Colton already at that time.

      Coincidentally at this time, there is running an exposition in Munich organized by the Institute of Bavarian History in the house of the Bavarian prime minister [called] "Freedom, Peace, RightsŃBavaria After 1945," all those things that Professor Colton examines in his article. The aim of the exposition is to remind the old ones and to explain to the younger generation how the restart of integration of Bavaria/Germany into the democratic community of free nations was brought about. In this process, the dominant and graceful role of the United States is recognized and acknowledged gratefully.

      The president of the Institute of Bavarian History is a Rotary friend of mine, Professor Claus Grimm. I sent him a copy of the July-August issue, drawing his attention to the article and asking him to reserve an honorary place in the archives of the Institute for this Duke Magazine on account of Professor Colton's article.

      Hans Karl Kandlbinder A.M. '54
      Munich, Germany



      I am the chaplain of a residential college within the University of Western Australia. During the past eighteen months:

      • my general tutorial group (pastoral group) of freshers has discussed the purpose of university education, using your article on intellectual engagement as a basis;
      • our student food committee is working with our chefs to make a more open comments and complaints system, based on your description of the system the Duke Food Service has implemented;
      • my chaplain colleagues at the universities in the area of Perth were greatly encouraged in our discussions about our role by the May-June exploration of religious values and practice at Duke;
      • our foundations officer has carefully thought about annual giving and bequests with input from material provided by the Office of Planned Giving in Duke Magazine;
      • our small alumni magazine now includes a lead article about a substantive issue in either university education or residential living partly inspired by your approach to lead articles.

      Australians are independent, consciously avoiding copying from other cultures. Our college is innovative, generating ideas for change, and taking ideas from many sources. Why have we used so many of your ideas? Mainly because your stories are relevant and excellently written.

      I am of a similar generation to H. Clifford Brown, whose letter you published in "Forum" in your July-August issue, but I cannot agree with his assessment that you need to raise your writing and editing standards. I usually read Duke Magazine from cover to cover and appreciate the quality of your articles whether or not I can use them in my work. I can also see the care you take to maintain high standards of writing and editing.

      I have no hesitation in sharing your articles with colleagues and I am proud to point out their origin.

      Ted Witham M.R.E. '87
      Willetton, Australia



      As an undergraduate at Duke, I enjoyed your magazine's interesting stories on varying angles of campus life. As a young alumnus, however, I am appalled with your publication's failure to serve what I assume is its primary purposeŃto inform alumni of the issues that face their alma mater.

      I am disappointed by your lack of coverage of certain very real issues facing our campus. Visiting a friend closer to home this weekend, I learned of the expansive restructuring of our campus that has taken place over the last few months. As an alumnus, I was disturbed to learn that indeed East is being turned into an all-freshman campus, that all living groups have been shuffled around with seemingly little regard for its impact on campus life. I learned that a Draconian alcohol policy has been enacted that ends all free distribution of alcohol, even for students of legal age. I was saddened by the apparent loss of the Magnolia Room and the Central Campus Pub, two of my favorite campus hangouts.

      Throughout my undergraduate career, debate raged over the quality of student life. The argument about whether or not kegs are an important part of Duke's social life will rage on forever, and my intent in this letter is not to pursue that issue.

      What cannot be debated, however, is the responsibility of your magazine to inform me and my classmates of these changes so that we can form valid opinions. When we visit for Homecoming, even recent graduates will apparently need a map of the "new" campus. A trivial matter? Perhaps. But to myself and (I suspect) to the rest of my classmates, it is an issue of much greater interest than "Art Quilts," student-athlete compensation pipe dreams, and a reunion in Nova Scotia. Few of us have been to Nova Scotia, even fewer played varsity basketball, and I knew no one in my class who spent much time quilting.

      As a fellow magazine publisher, I wonder if you have lost sight of your mission. When I hear wild stories about angry alumni withdrawing donations and much of a senior class disillusioned with what is being done to its university reneging on gift pledges, I first wonder if these stories could be true. I then wonder why my alumni publication wasn't the one to tell me about it.

      Mike Orren '93
      Dallas, Texas

      The new alcohol rules were described in the May-June 1995 in an article in the "Gazette" news section, "Sobering Policy." The change in housing and residential life, "Residential Rearranging," was covered in the "Gazette" section in the January-February 1995 issue. (We also included a photo spread with information on new buildings, including the new East Campus residential halls.)

      Changes on campus, as in society, involve discussion and process, all of which can't take place overnight. The new policies only began this fall semester. Please refer to the current issue, November-December 1995, for an extensive assessment of residential life; we did want to allow the university at least a semester's experience before delving into such an important topic.

      We are not a parochial magazine, catering restrictively to campus life. Our readers are out in the world dealing with universal issues, which we try to cover for a magazine that reflects the interplay between campus and society.

      Corrections: The Mini-profile "With Honor and Compassion" (July-August) incorrectly listed biographical information about Mary Laraine "Larry" Young Hines A.M. '93. Her father was Baxter Clay "Buck" Young Jr., who attended Duke 1931-33. Also, Hines served in Vietnam for thirteen months, not two years. Duke Magazine regrets the error.

      In the obituary for Angier Biddle Duke Hon. '69 (July-August), the name of his son, Dario Biddle Duke A.H.C. '86, was inadvertently omitted. Ambassador Duke's daughter, Maria Luisa Biddle Duke, also attended the university for a year.

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