Letters

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OUR NEW LOOK 

Columbia Magazine Summer 2016

The redesigned summer issue of Columbia Magazine is a home run! The articles were interesting, well-written, and illuminating. The new format and features kept me reading to the end — I think it’s the first time I’ve read the magazine from cover to cover. I always complained that my husband’s alma mater, Princeton, produced a far more interesting alumni magazine. But now I am proud to say that ours is as good or better. Roar, Lions, Roar for a job well done.

Sandra Jerez ’92CC
Seattle, WA


Summer’s when I cart off a sack full of unread material and plow through it on getaways, and this year the standout was the wonderfully modern and refreshed Columbia Magazine.

It’s a compelling and great-looking read — with alluring illustrations and terrific photos. Everything is interesting and easy to find. It’s going to be one of my must-reads going forward.

You’ve turned this proud alumnus into an avid reader of Columbia Magazine.

Mark Kaminsky ’81GSAS
New York, NY


I got the most recent issue and was pleasantly surprised to see what looks like an entirely new magazine. First off, the new design is just great: clean, modern, and inviting. I usually find I read some of the magazine, but this time I literally read everything and it was all superb. I thought the writing throughout was first-rate, and each and every story was compelling and thought-provoking. Great job! 

Michael Bendit ’91BUS
New York, NY


So now Columbia Magazine represents itself in hot-pink type, blows up a picture of the cutest market-researched youngster for knee-jerk sympathy, and prints a generic, elbow-in-the-ribs Shakespeare quiz?? You can change your name from Columbia to Generic-but-Hip Intellectual.

Wade Dizdar ’84CC
McAllen, TX


COVER GIRL  

I was just so moved when I read the cover story about Myrrah Shapoo. I am very proud of all the staff of the Columbia University Medical Center. Please convey my good wishes to them. May God bless them all.

Afshan Imtiaz ’11GSAS
Allama Iqbal Town, Pakistan


MYRRAH’S STORY  

I am a scientist and have worked actively in developing genetic-testing services in India akin to the one described in your cover story on Myrrah Shapoo (“Meet the Girl with Gene NUP214-ABL1,” Summer 2016). I wanted to congratulate you on bringing out such a great story. It explains the scientific and technical challenges of exome sequencing very well for the lay reader, and retains the humane aspects of the story. Indeed, it is heartening to read about how PIPseq led to a positive outcome for Myrrah, as the field actively debates the costs and benefits of these as yet investigational tests with a lot of unknowns.

Kudos also to the medical and scientific teams at Columbia for making this happen!

Nandita Mullapudi
Bangalore, India 


SWEET HARMONIES 

Thank you for publishing that lovely story about Art Garfunkel and Sanford Greenberg (“Old Friends,” College Walk, Summer 2016). I was about seventeen and an upperclassman at Forest Hills High School, in Queens, New York, when my mother said to me: “Bobby, those two boys who come over and go downstairs with you to play music — I like the tall one, Artie. He has good manners and does well in school, and I can tell he will make something of himself, so he can keep on coming over here. But that other one, Pauly, with the leather jacket and the DA haircut, he’s just a bum! I don’t want you to hang around with him any more.”

This was how my mother saw Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. I have told this story often (too often) and preceded the telling with the admonition that sometimes you should not listen to your mother. After reading about Art’s wonderful caring behavior toward his classmate who lost his sight, I realize my mother had more insight than I knew (at least about Art!).

Robert D. Blank ’70DM
Southold, NY


Reading the article by Paul Hond about Sandy Greenberg and Art Garfunkel’s return to Columbia last March stung me with much gratitude and more than a little guilt.

In the spring of 1962, during my junior year, I, like Art, read assignments out loud to Sandy for several government courses in which we were both enrolled. I remember one evening asking Art, then Sandy’s roommate, what studying architecture was like, since he was enrolled in the program. Art suggested that the best way for me to get an answer was to come to the drafting studios in Avery to see what students were doing there. 

Not long after, I climbed to the top floor of Avery. Art kindly and quietly showed me around. I was fascinated by what I saw. The next fall, I enrolled in Columbia’s four-year architecture program while completing my major in government. This decision resulted in my career as an architect, one I have never regretted. Hence my considerable gratitude for the fortuitous connection I might otherwise have never made.

My guilt, however, arose because Sandy needed more reading than I could provide, as I struggled to complete assignments and take exams while holding down three part-time jobs. I have always felt bad, especially since I benefited so much from the discovery of my interest in architecture.

George B. Terrien ’63CC, ’66GSAPP
Rockland, ME


RAINBOW POWER 

Kudos for your Summer 2016 article “Under the Rainbow,” about the 1966 emergence at Columbia of the first college LGBT organization. I casually knew its founder Robert Martin (AKA Stephen Donaldson); he seemed weird to me at the time because I was sexually repressed and would not come out until after the Stonewall riots of 1969. Author Bill Retherford is to be commended on his research and encapsulation of the personal pain and triumph of a gay trailblazer as well as our society’s movement toward equality in the decades since.

Russell Needham ’68CC
New York, NY


Thanks for such a fine article on Stephen Donaldson and LGBTQ history in the summer issue. Do more!

Allen Young ’62CC, ’64JRN, ’64SIPA
Orange, MA


I was the executive vice president of the University Student Council in 1966–67, when I was a senior at the School of General Studies. One day the president, David Langsam, said to me, “You probably don’t know this, but you are on the committee that recognizes student organizations. A group of students want to start something called the Student Homophile League. Usually such groups would be approved pro forma, but for this group, because of its nature, the vote is split two to two, and you will be the deciding vote.” He told me that the committee consisted of a faculty representative, the coach, the chaplain, and a University vice president. And of course, as I had just learned, there was a student representative — as it turned out, me.

We met. Two of the students organizing the group attended the meeting: a man from the College and a woman from Barnard. For the petition to be approved, there needed to be five bona fide student signatories. I asked the University vice president if the signatories were registered as students. He said yes. So I said we should approve it.

Why? I saw it as basic civil rights. All we were doing was affirming that a legitimate number of bona fide students wanted to start an organization. General Studies students are different; they have been out in the world. My world was then the East Village, mostly, and a little of the West Village, where there were many gay people living as happily as any of us might be living, definitely out of the closet. Friends and neighbors, even roommates had been gay; that year, living near Columbia on the west side, my landlords, who lived in the building, were a gay couple who had met in a foxhole during WWII — or so they said. Who cared? It was their life, and it had no negative impact on mine. And while I did not appreciate getting hit on by men, sometimes even in classes at Columbia, this seemed to me to be a separate issue entirely.

Soon the committee reconvened. One of the signatories was now missing from the list (the result, I imagined, of a heart-to-heart with a parent). Now there were only four. I sat there thinking. The charter of the Student Homophile League specifically stated that its purpose was to encourage openness and acceptance; there was no requirement that one be gay to be a member.

That meant I could be a member. If needed, I decided, I could be the fifth name. So once again, I voted for recognition. To their credit, the other members of the committee accepted this decision.

It was only later in my life, as I heard stories of attempted and successful suicides, as I learned how unaware I was of the many people who lived in closets, as I understood the story told to me by a fellow student about his incarceration by his parents in a mental hospital to straighten him, that I came to appreciate the good we had really done. 

Walter Jonas ’67GS
Milton, MA


The time has come to abandon the ever-increasing array of letters used to account for a great range of human sexuality and individual practice. The “Acronym Acrobatics” sidebar to “Under the Rainbow” undertakes to explain five common classifications (L, G, B, T, and Q), and then adds another five. There is apparently no end to the complexity of the subject. We recognize human diversity in many aspects of our being, and in our best selves work to accept and honor diversity and the rights of others whose appearance, habits, and outlooks do not match our own. We fuel our own divisions by accepting and endlessly attempting to justify and explain LGBTQ — and five more. 

Joseph Schaaf ’48CC
Bennington, VT


WISH FULFILLMENT

I was baffled by some of the college abbreviations in the summer issue, and after rummaging through the magazine twice for the key concluded you had ditched it. Please bring it back, even if it is in very small type, or I will have to clip out an old one and paste it on my fridge.

Andrew Nemethy ’73JRN
Adamant, VT

Letters Fall 2016


HEART OF A LION

Thank you for your eulogy for Bill Campbell (Bulletin, Summer 2016). Some of us remember Ballsy best as one of the founding members of the Columbia University Rugby Football Club, still going strong fifty-five years later. Roar, Lion, Roar. 

George D. Carey ’64CC
Boise, ID


Thanks for a very nice sendoff for and respectful tribute to “the Coach.” Bill was indeed a titan of Silicon Valley. He was known by many, even those outside the tech world. 

My son, Walker, played flag football under Bill at Sacred Heart Prep, the school where his memorial services were held and where he coached for many years. Bill, purposefully or not, called our son Walter (rather than Walker) and it has stuck: “Walt” remains his nickname to this day. 

Scott Barnum ’82BUS
Menlo Park, CA



 Questions? Comments?

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Columbia Magazine 
Columbia Alumni Center 
622 W. 113th Street, MC 4521 
New York, NY 10025

Or e-mail us at:
magazine@columbia.edu



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