Forum: November-December 2008

Show Them the Money

Kazu Nitta

Show Them the Money

I read with interest "The Best, the Brightest, and the Neediest?" Robert J. Bliwise's article about recent increases in financial-aid programs at the nation's top universities [July-August 2008]. Although it is exciting to see Duke making itself affordable to families with annual incomes under $60,000, Duke is still out of reach for the large swath of students who come from middle-class families earning more than $60,000 per year, but decidedly less than the $250,000 annual income of over a quarter of Duke students' families.

As a Duke freshman in 1991-92, I learned that my parents would not be able to foot the bill for another year at Duke. A financial-aid officer showed me the figure that my parents were expected to contribute, an amount that would have required them to take a second mortgage on their home and would have drastically limited higher-education options for my siblings.

When I explained that this wasn't affordable, she told me that there was simply no alternative formula that took into account parents' inability to pay the amount the accepted formula dictated—a clear acknowledgment that the accepted formula was flawed. While offering additional aid to families below the $60,000 mark is helpful, it doesn't begin to address the problem faced by so many middle-income families, who must choose between maintaining a financial safety net and sending their kids to private universities.

A year after I transferred away from Duke, I was deemed an alumna and started receiving Annual Fund requests. The sad thing is, I had loved my year at Duke so much that I momentarily considered contributing! I did eventually return to Duke for law school, happily putting myself into debt and finally getting my four full years on campus. I shudder to think now how much larger my mountain of debt would be had my parents managed to fund the rest of my undergraduate education there.

Jennifer Sullivan '95, J.D.'99, Boulder, Colorado


Nits to Pick

I have several questions about material in the July-August 2008 issue of Duke Magazine:

(1) Are we supposed to be proud that a Duke law professor is arguing against the handgun ban in Washington [Quad Quotes]? Thirty-two years of D.C. crime history should make it clear that banning handguns does not reduce violent crime. D.C. has one of the highest violent crime rates in the U.S., and the law was clearly unconstitutional.

(2) Wouldn't it have been more encouraging to say that conservative Protestants give away a significantly higher (five to ten times) proportion of their wealth than the population overall, than to talk about how little they retain [Gazette]? Couldn't the argument be made that conservative Protestants spend more of their time in charitable pursuits than in pursuit of the almighty dollar?

(3) Why is a Duke department changing [its] name to incorporate the word "evolutionary" at a time when more and more educated and scientific people are questioning macro-evolution due to the overwhelming lack of supporting evidence [In Brief]? Is this political support for a losing cause?

Jim Robinson '75, Norcross, Georgia


Book Lover

I loved seeing Julie Goler '90 as prepared by Catherine Grace [Mini-profile, July-August 2008]. Duke should know that we treasure Julie as a colleague at Beverly Hills High School and as a book-group facilitator extraordinaire. Duke should be proud!

Karen Boyarsky, head librarian Beverly Hills High School, Beverly Hills, California


Straight Pride

Four years ago, I sat through an LGBT session at the University of North Carolina with my daughter and wondered, "Why do these people have to announce it from the housetops that they are gay?" In her dorm, we had to look at gay info sessions posters and be kind to gay people literature on the dorm info boards. I wondered where the heterosexual meetings were being held.

Two years ago, my son was invited to the gay pride parade at Duke's new-student orientation; he attended and wondered also why is it that these people feel they have to announce their orientation to the world. I think Duke has topped Carolina, however, in its redundant coverage of this minority—there's got to be a more interesting crowd out there to write about. I probably will cancel my Duke Magazine subscription.

Rita White P '10, Pinehurst, North Carolina


I am ashamed that Duke awarded a degree to as narrow a mind as that of C. Leon Gibbs [Forum, July-August 2008].

John Marth '59, Edgewater, Maryland


Stickler Identified

I am writing in response to the letter from Robert Clayton '58 in the March-April 2008 issue regarding the Latin professor who pushed to change the wording on the Duke's seal from Universitatis Dukensis, or "University of Duke," to the more accurate Universitas Dukiana—"Duke University."

I wanted to fill in the gap in his memory. Mr. Clayton's Latin professor must have been my grandfather, Dr. Robert S. Rogers, who taught at Duke from 1937 until his death in 1968. My father, David T. Rogers '56, has said that the error in the university seal frustrated his father, the Latin scholar, who, according to my father and his brother, Robert T. Rogers B.S.E '57, always insisted on accuracy.

We all are pleased to know that Professor Rogers is remembered still.

Carolyn Rogers Barrick '85, Georgetown, Texas

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