Readers weigh in on sexual misconduct and Oxy's endowment

Life's Lessons

As an Occidental graduate, I wish to respond to the email I received concerning sexual misconduct charges at my alma mater.

Except for extraordinary gross vio­lations of clearly defined and universally understood Occidental school policies, student behavior can reasonably be expected to follow prescribed and well-understood standards. Unfortunately, the "door" of gross violations that is left ajar stems from the school not having a zero-tolerance policy concerning coed dorms; opposite-sex visitations; and dorm and fraternity-sorority parties that tolerate alcoholic beverages, marijuana, and drugs. Any attempt to sweep such behavior under the carpet is therefore irresponsible. 

The problem now confronting Occidental appears to be symptomatic of an alarming trend that is affecting many students heading to universities and colleges today. In addition to furthering educations, many students (even parents) expect their experience to include such permissive behavior as part of "growing up." And these attitudes are becoming increasingly prevalent. To resolve this problem it is essential to understand why this is happening. And we must ask why are students embarking on their Oxy experience without a firm underpinning of high ethical and moral standards? The answer must come from experts who understand these alarming sociological questions.

As long as administrations turn a blind eye to such behavior schools must expect such lapses. Unfortunately, the fact that this incident happened at Occidental College is not an anomaly. It is becoming a plague on campuses across this country.

We must accept the fact that student attitudes are formed by many influences, and not always in a positive manner. And young adults who enter our colleges may not always have benefited by well-taught life lessons from teachers and mentors truly concerned about their charges' moral standards.

All this places a great onus on faculties and administrations of colleges and universities, including Occidental. If we are to truly help the students in our care become responsible adult citizens and leaders, we must ensure that our charges not only receive a quality education but also learn to how to adapt and deal responsibly with life's challenges. This was the essence of Dean Benjamin Culley's philosophy.

John White Jr. '56
Narberth, Pa.

No Quick Fixes

From a letter sent to President Veitch in May:

Through a mutual friend I knew of Roger Magyar '66's letter regarding the endow­ment before it appeared in Occidental ("Running the Numbers," Fall 2012). In my opinion, Magyar has done the College a great service by getting into the open an issue of tremendous importance to the future of the institution, and in doing so invited community-wide discussion and confrontation with the issue. I served for several years on the Senior Accreditation Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and have seen how prolonged financial limitations can erode the quality, strength, and morale of an institution.

When Magyar's letter was published, I assumed that the next issue of Occidental would include your response. When it did not, friends suggested that I write you and urge you to respond. I said I would give you one more issue in which to respond. That issue is now out, and there is still no word from you.

When you considered applying for the presidency of Occidental, I am sure that you surveyed the College's financial viability. You almost certainly had a plan, or the beginnings of a plan as to how to improve this. In my opinion, it is time to make yourself heard. The College community looks to you for leadership and an outline as to your take on the financial situation and your ideas as to how to address it. I urge that the next issue of Occidental include such a presentation.

David L. Cole M'48
Professor of Psychology Emeritus

A History of History of Civ

To clarify a bit of reporting from "Character Building," last issue's history of Thorne Hall: History of Civ was taught in Johnson Hall 200 from fall 1947 until spring 1962, and in Thorne Hall from fall 1962 until the course was discontinued in 1971. Thanks to Warry MacElroy '60, Alan Freeman '66 M'67, Barbara (Jimenez) Parrott '63 and her Gamma buddies, and Oxy's special collections staff for helping us puzzle out that timeline.