Re “A Smug Education?,” by Andrew Delbanco (Op-Ed, March 9):
John W. Gardner, former secretary of health, education and welfare, observed that our colleges and universities have always had “uncritical lovers” and “unloving critics.”
Mr. Delbanco is a wise, passionate, loving critic of American higher education. He is right to remind the nation’s most distinguished institutions that elite higher education is a precious commodity with moral overtones and that humility and modesty will always be in short supply when selective institutions serve as gatekeepers to social mobility.
For his part, Rick Santorum has chosen the role of an aggrieved unloving critic. His politically charged comments bashing elite colleges and universities as arrogant, self-indulgent indoctrination centers, though fueled by the raw emotions of an unforgiving primary campaign, represent a deeply ingrained, anti-intellectual strain in American life. Such a view ignores the vital public interest played by all higher education institutions in nurturing what Thomas Jefferson called the “natural aristocracy” of talent and virtue.
EUGENE M. TOBIN
New York, March 9, 2012
The writer is a former president of Hamilton College.
To the Editor:
I have no desire to dispute Andrew Delbanco’s views of the smugness of the Ivy League, including his employer and my alma mater, Columbia University. But I fear that both Professor Delbanco and Rick Santorum fall into a similar trap: thinking of college entirely as the Ivies or as four-year universities.
At the community college where I teach, hubris exists, but mainly among academic administrators and select faculty members.
The students are too busy trying to make a living, put food on the table, tend to their children and get to the classes that will help make them better people and better workers — no thanks to Mr. Santorum and those of like ignorance who deride colleges as elitist or as indoctrination camps.
Las Vegas, March 9, 2012
The writer is a professor of history at the College of Southern Nevada.
To the Editor:
There is a potent antidote to Andrew Delbanco’s fears that our most prestigious colleges’ elitism encourages smugness among their students.
If each Ivy League college committed to accepting transfer students from community colleges for 1 percent of their junior classes, privileged students would begin to encounter students from the other 99 percent. Research confirms that low-income and minority transfer students, after being transformed by a community college education, graduate at the same or higher rates than students who began at the same college.
Making transfers a part of the elite colleges would provide living proof that intelligence, drive and achievement are not the sole province of students born with good fortune, but are as alive as the American dream among strivers at community colleges.
GAIL O. MELLOW
LaGuardia Community College
Long Island City, Queens, March 9, 2012
None mention the very system of shadow government pervasive in practically every college- that of "Fraternities" with their emphasis on one's ability to get drunk and agreeable to absurdity for that ticket to get ahead.
To the Editor:
Andrew Delbanco says “the charge that elite college culture encourages smugness and self-satisfaction contains, like Mr. Santorum’s outburst, a germ of truth.” A germ?
Has he ever been to a sports event where one team is an Ivy League school and its entire student section engages in the chant “Safety school! Saaaaa-fety school!” at the opponents?
STEVEN J. GRUBER
Glenshaw, Pa., March 9, 2012
Questions that voters overwhelmingly fail to ask include the percentage of elected officials and candidates for such who belong to fraternal organizations.
To better understand political dynamics, consider fraternalism:
http://books.google.com/books/about/The_faces_of_fraternalism.html?id=IJeFAAAAMAAJAnd yes, Santorum belongs to a college fraternity:The Faces of Fraternalism is the first comparative sociological study of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan. Brooker focuses on the very similar and highly unusual social policies of these three regimes. He uses the term "fraternalism" to describe their unique social policy of attempting to instill in a modern society the primeval type of social solidarity found in clans and tribes, and known to sociologists as "mechanical solidarity." He describes the implementation of this policy by examining the three national or racial solidarity-building cults-National Socialism, Fascism, and State Shinto--and the dozens of indoctrinating organizations used to propagate them. This original examination throws fresh light on the efforts of three major twentieth-century powers to create and maintain social solidarity, and will enhance our understanding of the phenomenon of fascism.
The faces of fraternalism: Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and imperial Japan
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/01/rick-santorum-frat_n_1312924.htmlSo the real message of Santorum is not an honest one against elites but rather being one while pretending otherwise
Long before he was a leading presidential candidate who had assumed the identity of a culture warrior, Santorum was just another fraternity brother at Tau Epsilon Phi. "He wasn't so outspoken," Vondercrone says. "It seems to be his identity in the race right now. I didn't think of him as that way ... We talked about sports, our classes."
He says Santorum regularly attended the house's Monday night "low-stakes" poker games that included watching "Monday Night Football." He remembers Santorum smoking cigars. And drinking beer. Santorum was an "all-year" sports fan, Vondercone recalls. He was a Pittsburgh fan whether it was the Pirates or the Steelers.
U.S. Congress is Largely "Greek"
"Fraternalism"- Continuing Counter Reformation