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Letters to the editor


Alumni disagree on hip hop appointment

I found the article about the hip hop artist Mr. Bambaataa (“Beat Poet,” Currents, January/February 2013) very disturbing. How Cornell, with its long-standing history of academic excellence, can welcome such a culture to campus is baffling to me. I sometimes think I am living in another world, perhaps one of the Forties with its big bands led by Artie Shaw and Glenn Miller, World War II, hard work, and veterans only too happy to return to campus and get on with their lives. This has nothing to do with race—Duke Ellington was held in the same regard as the other musicians mentioned.

I would be curious to know if the reaction of the younger alumni is much different than mine—realizing, of course, that times change.

Herbert Lobdell ’48
Trumbull, Connecticut

Ed. Note: Most of the feedback we’ve received about this article has been positive, including these comments at our website:

I’m so glad Cornell is beginning to recognize the validity of the African American tradition. — Judith Hamer ’60

An interesting article, project, and appointment. . . . Well done, Jim Catalano!  — Roger Davis ’78

As a witness to (and sometimes participant in) plenty of racially based protest and disharmony on campus, it’s so intriguing to see this appointment! It gladdens me—and I had no idea that CU has curated such an archive. The march of time and the arc of justice. Go Big Red. — Lee Lightbourne ’77, BS Eng ’78

Just Say No to Hazing

Re: “Anti-Hazing Rules Approved” (From the Hill, January/February 2013). In 1959 I pledged a Cornell fraternity. During initiation, we were required to wear an onion around our necks on a string, drink some strange punch, and get paddled with a paddle of our own making. After a day of this, the pledge class decided they’d had enough and walked out. We said we would return only to be inducted into the fraternity. The fraternity officers balked and negotiated—but, in the end, gave in to our demands. We were inducted the next day, and the fraternity seemed to be none the worse for it.

Stephen Gottlieb ’62, BArch ’69
New York, New York

Ed. Note: See President Skorton’s column for an update on recent efforts to eliminate hazing in the Greek system.