Letters

Your Turn

Readers write, react and respond. (March-April 2016)
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The Undocumented
Your story about Allegra Love ’03 is very inspiring [“Law and Border,” January/February]. I live in Santa Fe and have adult children born in Guatemala and adopted by my wife and me as infants. The civil war there, 30 years long in duration, was clearly genocide against the indigenous Maya population, fomented by anti-communist rhetoric out of our own country. Although that has died down, the Zetas from Mexico have brought gang violence with similar results to Guatemala City. Asylum is warranted for Guatemaltecos who have made the treacherous journey to the United States to escape abject poverty or death. These are good people who, given the opportunity, will make our nation better—not worse.

William Condit, Adv’78
Santa Fe, New Mexico

 

Love’s work is critical and praiseworthy. But we shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back just yet. Neither undocumented students and alumni, nor students and alumni whose families are undocumented, are guaranteed equal opportunity. Until Congress fixes this nation’s broken immigration system, undocumented Dartmouth undergraduates, their families and the more than 11 million aspiring Americans, as well as more than 16 million individuals who belong to mixed-status families, face perilous uncertainty. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has jurisdiction in Hanover because of the College’s proximity to the border. If ICE agents want to apprehend a student on campus, they can.

Having an expired visa or entering the United States without one is a civil offense, not a criminal one. This means the 430,000 immigrants held in the 250 ICE detention facilities across the country are not read their rights or offered attorneys. With more than 1,100 deportations every day (more than 400,000 deportations every single year), it’s a miracle that 65,000 undocumented students a year graduate from high school. Roughly 1.4 million do not. 

Almost one-fourth of those who are deported have U.S. citizen children. Each year more than 3,000 kids are placed into the foster care system because a third party has determined it is better for them to remain in the United States following their parents’ deportation. U.S. citizen children of undocumented parents can be, and are often, deported—4,000 U.S. citizen children attend school in Tijuana alone. Tens of thousands of U.S. citizen children, without citizenship in their parents’ country of origin, are unable to register for school, much less sign up for healthcare. 

Unai Montes-Irueste ’98
Los Angeles

 

I note in your article your continued use of the term “undocumented immigrant” to describe persons who have entered the United States of America illegally (the term “undocumented families” is used once.) 

Does undocumented mean that written legal authority for such entry exists, but the documents have been misplaced or lost, or is that phrase a slick way to reduce opprobrium and gain acceptance and sympathy for such law-breaking?

Quentin L. Kopp ’49
San Francisco

 

In Search of Evidence
Your campus story, “A Change in Policy” [January/February], explained that Dartmouth will no longer apply need-blind admission consideration for international students.  Provost Carolyn Dever said, “The decision is data-driven and designed to yield an even stronger, more diverse student body.” Won’t such a change more likely reduce diversity?

Tuition aid to international students is approximately $3.7 to $4.9 million. That’s about one-tenth of 1 percent of Dartmouth’s endowment. Adding $5 million to the financial aid pool for U.S. students would accomplish the same as diverting that amount from international students.

Without saying how this policy change would achieve the stated goal, we have just an unsubstantiated claim. Dartmouth professors would downgrade students’ papers that make vacuous arguments. Shouldn’t the administration live up to the same expectations as students?

This change should be rescinded until a clear plan is shared with students, faculty and alumni. In the interim, the admissions office should address the disparity in economic diversity. Nationally, according to the 2013 census, 94 percent of families earn less than $200,000 per year, yet at Dartmouth only 41 percent of students come from families of such means [“Campus,” May/June 2015]. Is Dartmouth trying to create a diverse student body or a wealthy alumni class?

Phillip C. Schaefer ’64
Grantham, New Hampshire

 

Good Quote Spoiled
Thank you for a good article about professor Brendan Nyhan [“The Truth is Out There,” January/February]. I’m sure he is brilliant and his courses sound fascinating. I love the idea of a whole term dedicated to wading through the quagmire of political spin and misperceptions and will look for his New York Times blog.

Unfortunately, the article ends with a bit of its own journalistic misperception. The last paragraph attributes a quote to Mark Twain: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” This quote is often attributed to him. It’s a great quote, and I use it frequently. However, it was almost certainly not Mark Twain, but Josh Billings, who said it.

Phil Gibbs ’81
Eastford, Connecticut

Editor’s Note: Although many politicians—and most recently the Oscar-nominated film The Big Short—have attributed the quote to Mark Twain, the Library of Congress book Respectfully Quoted cites it as an often misattributed witticism of Billings.

 

Gun Culture
I was surprised but pleased by the piece on Jennifer Carlson ’04 that appeared on the back page of the January/February edition of DAM [“Continuing Ed”]. I had just about given up any hope of seeing any real diversity of opinion appearing in any organ of the Dartmouth family, except for letters to the editor. Now this faint glimmer of light appears and I must reconsider my thinking!

Along this line of truth seeking, I hope that professor Brendan Nyhan follows his line of critical observation in studying and teaching whenever he happens to set his sights on the issue of gun control. According to “The Truth Is Out There,” he is concerned that “you still hear and read things that are not supported by evidence.” We of the NRA have long suffered from just such misinformation created and promulgated by the anti-gun community. As the organization’s retired executive vice president and CEO, I welcome an honest revealing of the true facts regarding this important matter.

J. Warren Cassidy ’53
Mirror Lake, New Hampshire

 

I don’t agree with Carlson’s research subjects that carrying a loaded gun in public is responsible or promotes safety. Growing up, I was mentored in the safe handling and use of firearms for hunting and target shooting. None was transported or stored while loaded. Today so-called good guys carry loaded handguns to defend against remote dangers. My Colorado pistol permit instructor predicted that in doing so we would most likely shoot ourselves, shoot a bystander or misjudge when lethal force is legally justified.

The unlikely risk of being targeted in a gun-free zone pales in comparison with the very real risks of gun ownership. Firearms cut a lethal swath through the nation’s youth while enabling suicides and causing accidental injury and death. The NRA, which once counseled the safe and responsible use of firearms, now encourages and enables thousands of inadequately trained people each year to carry loaded handguns in the home and in public.

The task at hand is to regain control from the bullying gun culture and restore safety and reason to the role of firearms in our society. As Pogo famously said: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Blair Wood ’63
Dillon, Colorado

 

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 33,600 deaths by firearms occurred in the United States in 2013, more than 60 percent of them suicides. States requiring handgun permits had lower death rates and lower rates of suicide by firearms than states not requiring permits for gun ownership.

If an unknown agent caused this many deaths per year—every year—our nation would, one hopes, act to reduce these deaths. Here are a few modest suggestions: tighten regulation of gun dealers (including those at gun shows), ban dangerous and unusual weapons such as machine guns and armor-piercing bullets, require training for gun owners, and continue federally funded research on firearm-injury prevention.

If these mild suggestions were adopted by all our states, we would have fewer handgun deaths of all types. I wonder if Carlson would have any problems with any of these proposals?

Ted Tapper ’61, DMS’62 
Merion, Pennsylvania

 

Mistaken Identity
Your latest edition of DAM contained a letter by Steve Katz ’57 [“Your Turn,” January/February], detailing his struggle with bipolar disorder. Having met him a few times, knowing what a fine person he is, I am writing only because some classmates have contacted me expressing concern. We do have the same name, and occasionally got each other’s mail while at Dartmouth, but I am actually Col. Steve Katz ’56 (U.S. Air Force, retired).

Steve Katz ’56
Rancho Palos Verdes, California 

 

REMEMBERING JOHN RASSIAS (1925–2015)
COMMENTS FROM DARTMOUTH ALUMNI MAGAZINE
S FACEBOOK PAGE

I doubt that anyone at Dartmouth has inspired as many students. He embodied the very essence of education. (And, thanks to him, I could have easily made my comment in French.)
Paul H. Johnson ’73

He always said hello to all: the person sweeping to the person in the suit.
John Hendrick

Truly one of the greatest people I have ever known…his inspiring and effective notion of nonjudgmental creative learning is the underpinning of much of the progress in teaching in the past 40 years.
Nick Lowery ’78

A great loss to our Dartmouth family. Never to be forgotten.
Tai Antoine ’01, Adv’05

A true pioneer and a great person.
Merle Adelman ’80

Visited his classroom on my recruiting trip—loved his passion!
J.D. Optekar ’91

Professor Rassias was a shining star of Dartmouth. 
Ronald King ’74

I’ve never met anyone who understood how to use emotion to enhance learning like John. He had our class performing Greek drama in French in the dead of winter on the steps of Dartmouth Hall. He was a crucial part of my Dartmouth experience, as he was for thousands of others. He will live on through his teaching and his institute.
John Aronsohn ’90

A class act.
Andre Junior ’96

Thirty years later and I still know my Russian grammar without thinking, thanks to the Rassias Method.
Molly Walpuck ’83

Definitely one of the most compelling—and most fun—professors of any subject I have ever encountered. One of the most outstanding Dartmouth faculty members for a generation!
Robert M. Cohn ’66

The best.
Jay Weed ’80

He was a true leader, inspiration and visionary.
Jessica Grabarz ’01

I actually liked French class in 1980. I despised language before Rassias taught me to enjoy it and thrive. What a blessing.
Ford Allen ’84

Such a committed teacher.
Amena Saeed Lone ’96

What a legacy he left! Rest well and may ye snap wherever ye choose, language genius!
Kristin Burdge ’04

As the Greeks say: May his memory be eternal.
Alexander Nikas ’95

Good night, dear friend. You were the best part of my Dartmouth experience.
Veronica Wessels ’81

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