Letters

William Diaz
Deer Park, New York


SHUTTLE DIPLOMACY

In Norah Vincent's Higher Ed column ["Standard Issue," May 1], she suggests that the political left has taken control of the academy, and that this transformation has resulted in the diminishment of standards and distinctions made on meritocratic grounds. As someone identified in the column as a possible "hoarse voice crying in the wilderness," I think it's worth noting that grade inflation, lowered student workloads, and textbooks that read like they've been edited by Reader's Digest are likely the result of market-driven factors, not the political orientation of the academy.

Sure, the Woodstock generation has had a loopy influence on universities and colleges. But our lowering of expectations is quite another kettle of fish. It's principally the result of viewing the student as a consumer of a costly product rather than as an apprentice. In this new view, the customer is always right, and deans and presidents have become avid consumer advocates. The idea that college exists more for social and economic accreditation and less for education is a fashionable one today, and like the "little black dress," it is a fashion worn by both the political left and right.

Stuart Rojstaczer
Associate Professor of Hydrology
Duke University
Chapel Hill, North Carolina


CHANGING TIMES

Michael Musto was right on the mark in his review of Aleshia Brevard's autobiography ["Trans Mission: Memoir of a Sex-Change Trailblazer," May 8]. It is rare in this day that somebody actually cares about and makes an attempt to understand what it means to be transsexual. Musto is able to capture the joyous, sassy side of our world, but is still grounded enough to understand what we go through.

Brevard's book is hilarious, disturbing, poignant, intelligent, trashy, but more than anything informative. As one of Dr. Harry Benjamin's NYC girls of the late '60s, I fit the stereotype of thin and pretty, but as Brevard so elegantly states, that was the image expected of all women then, and we conformed as best we could. Some of us found it harder to pass as boys, while other sisters had a hard time period.

Brevard's book gave me insight into my post-op transsexual life. I never realized why the family embarrassment—me—was accepted after surgery. Musto understood what points Brevard was making, and explained them in his inimitable style, which is always a little tongue-in-cheek, campy, but sensitive. A rather engaging style that I find highly enjoyable yet sadly missing in much of the print press today. Musto recognizes that sometimes things really suck, but that doesn't mean there isn't humor in it.

Name Withheld
Nashua, New Hampshire


FIGHTING WORDS

I was very upset after reading Chisun Lee's "Fun With China" [May 1]. People of every color should watch Schindler's List to see how far dehumanizing one particular group of people can take us.

I have been trying hard not to feel bitter about racist remarks made by members of the media, like those featured in the article. Human rights organizations should look at such comments and take action where necessary. As a first-generation immigrant living in the U.S., I have learned that we have to stand up and fight for our rights.

I hope that Asian Americans will read Lee's article as a reality check about how we are viewed by some people in this society. While we are working hard to take care of our material needs, we should also nourish our spiritual needs for respect, dignity, and equality.

Min Lu
Manhattan


YO-YO MAW

I just finished reading Sinclair Rankin's article on the New York City Yo-Yo Open Tournament ["Kings of String," May 8]. Most of it was interesting. However, the part where Rankin pokes fun at "roly-poly" individuals is insulting, uncalled for, and extremely useless information that should definitely have been left out. What justifies publishing insults and rude remarks about people, just because they don't match the "ideal" of what your writer thinks they should be?

Also, yo-yoing is not [as one young fan was quoted as saying] a "game for lazy people." It requires countless hours of practice and lots of skill.

Kyle Weems
Houston, Texas

Sinclair Rankin replies: I had hoped to convey quite the opposite of what Weems inferred. Namely, that it was a most welcome change to see a sport in which a buff physique wasn't a prerequisite for participation.


FOUL BRAWL

In "Flagrant Fouls: The College Basketball Real-Life Top 25" [March 20], Brian Dunleavy makes some rather flagrant errors himself.

The item on the University of Florida Gators describes me as a "summer coach." I've never been a summer coach. I'm an attorney and business adviser.

Dunleavy wrote that I gave former Gator Mike Miller a $50,000 line of credit. I did no such thing. He also claimed that I referred Miller to agent Andy Miller. Again, that is not the truth. These are simple facts that could have been checked through a phone call. They weren't. I would have expected higher journalistic standards.

Bret Bearup
Atlanta, Georgia

Brian Dunleavy replies: If Bearup has a beef with how I've presented his relationship with former UF star Mike Miller and agent Andy Miller, he should have similar complaints with papers across the U.S., which have described him in the exact same way. Also, the item did mention his role as a "financial adviser."

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