As a student living in a dorm at Fashion Institute of Technology, I am outraged by the facts presented in Tom Robbins's article "High on the Hog" [April 10]. Must FIT president Joyce Brown waste school funds to improve her penthouse? I'm certain it was very livable before she moved in. With an annual income over $140,000, she could have spent some of her own money renovating it. Tuition keeps rising every year. FIT needs money to improve student housing, computer facilities, and campus facilities. How greedy can one person be?

Fatima Patel

I'm a former FIT student. I worked in the computer labs, and I know that FIT needs more advanced computer technology so that students will be able to compete in the real world. To me, the money spent by Dr. Brown on her penthouse is very offensive. This money should have been spent wisely on the students.

Renee Garrecano
Valley Stream, Long Island

As the parent of a FIT student, I was enraged by the information in the article on Dr. Joyce Brown. Under the school's new guidelines, my daughter has been unable to secure dormitory housing for more than two consecutive semesters—which means we must find affordable housing for her during her final year. Not an easy task! These outrageous expenditures on the president's penthouse space are appalling.

I.E. Jackson
Staatsburg, New York


Re Tom Robbins's article "High on the Hog": So that's what all the clankety-clank-clank was last August. We lowly dormitory residents were awakened, sometimes at 7 a.m., while Dr. Joyce Brown installed $8000 in kitchen appliances and such. Maybe Dr. Brown should come downstairs to visit us paupers who don't have such lavish things. She lives in the 18th-floor penthouse; I live on the 11th floor in the same FIT building.

Kakia Johnson


Tom Robbins's article has FIT up in arms. All I can say is: brilliant! Imagine what the school could have done with that money to help the working-class student body instead of putting it to use on things like the $20,000-plus spent on new wooden doors for the president's apartment.

It was also interesting how all of this week's issues of The Village Voice were missing from their on-campus racks. Hmm.

Matthew Cassel


Re Tom Robbins's article "High on the Hog": In June 1998, we put before newly appointed FIT president Dr. Joyce F. Brown a daunting task: improve the campus and facilities, increase the number of full-time faculty, extend student services, and develop curriculum.

It is board policy to require the president to live on campus full-time. In order for Dr. Brown to conduct business as a college president, and to assist her in meeting her mandate, the renovation was necessary and appropriate. FIT's Board of Trustees initiated this work and takes responsibility for it. The fact is, the apartment needed significant renovation—there was water damage from roof leakage, there were very few furnishings, and the space needed to be conducive to fundraising and college activities. That Robbins considers this investment in college property an extravagance is a matter of opinion.

As one of the nation's preeminent colleges for design and business, FIT is an important asset to the City of New York. Tens of thousands of our graduates are leaders in industries integral to the city's economic vitality. The college serves the $25 billion fashion industry, fuels the $20 billion toy industry, and prepares managers and executives in merchandising, advertising, public relations, and manufacturing.

FIT is a proud public institution that provides training to over 11,000 full- and part-time students, who come from all parts of New York City and New York State as well as from around the country and the world seeking our special brand of education. The Board of Trustees fully supports Dr. Brown and her talented students, faculty, and staff.

Edwin Goodman
Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Fashion Institute of Technology


While I agree with the general thrust of Richard Goldstein's article about anti-gay prejudice in the criminal justice system ["Queer on Death Row," March 20], the piece contains one serious misinterpretation of language. Mr. Goldstein writes that Calvin Burdine's lawyer "had no problem calling the co-defendant in the case a 'tush hog.' " Clearly, Mr. Goldstein thinks that this is an anti-gay slur. It is nothing of the kind.

Although "tush" is a common slang synonym for "ass," it has another, entirely different meaning. It is a synonym for "tusk," derived from an older English usage, which survives in the dialect in some parts of the American South. If you read the first chapter of Animal Farm you will see the word used by George Orwell in exactly this way, describing Old Major as a boar whose "tushes had never been cut."

Thus, in Southern dialect, a "tush hog" is a dumb and belligerent man—the sort who will start a fight for no rational reason. I suspect Burdine's lawyer may have used this language to describe his co-defendant in an effort to shift culpability for the murder away from his client and onto the other man by portraying him as unpredictably violent—not to slur him as homosexual. Mr. Goldstein needs to be reminded that New Yorkese isn't the only form of English spoken in the U.S.

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