CONTINUING THE QUEST
I find it very unfortunate that you did not mention Gina Coleman ’90, the former associate dean who convinced the Williams administration to join QuestBridge (“Begins the Quest,” summer 2017). I was in the second class of Williams students admitted through the program, and I know from personal experience how much time, effort and genuine care Gina put into starting and cultivating the QuestBridge contingent at Williams. I attribute much of my success to how involved she was in the admission process, and I know I am not alone in feeling this way.
—BRITTNI MICHAM ’10, MAUMEE, OHIO
Being Muslim was difficult at Williams when I first entered in 1999. “The Face of Sacrifice” (summer 2017) typifies how it might continue to be so today. Sacrifice and scapegoating is far older than Afghanistan or Islam. These phenomena go back to Leviticus and Ancient Greece. A poorly framed case study of Afghanistan is used to isolate Islam as problematic. Furthermore, according to the University of Chicago, the first suicide attack in Afghanistan (since 1974) happened in 2001, resulting in two deaths. What changed in the Afghanis’ methods of violence/resistance/war-making until 2001 versus 2002 onward? Why is the rest of the Muslim world not as violently suicidal? By essentializing what demands nuance, sacrifice fly balls in America become sheep in some external, imagined Islam, as if Eid-al-Adha is not commemorated by sheep’s slaughter by adherent American Muslims. A stronger example of surrogate victimhood would be the twin invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in response to 9/11. It was distasteful to draw a direct line from the mujahideen of the ’80s to ISIS without mention- ing Western (particularly U.S.) involvement. This simplistic treatment could have been avoided with a simple phone call to any scholar of Islam.
—KHURRAM AHMED ’03, LOS ANGELES, CALIF.
DOC: NOT INFLUENCED
I read about economics professor Matthew Chao’s research in the summer 2017 issue (“Docs: Under the Influence?”). As a private practitioner in the D.C. area for 35 years, I was treated in the 1980s and 1990s with gifts and royalties by the big pharmaceutical companies but only because I had high volumes of prescriptions belong- ing to the company before I was selected as a candidate. I used the drug because it proved in multiple studies to be superior to its competitors. I wanted the best for my patients. There was no influential carrot placed in front of me. Today, we rarely see drug representatives anymore. Most insurance companies have clamped down on the use of brand drugs. So many of our prescriptions are generic (cheaper, but many times not the best drug). Fancy (and many times great) drugs that you see on TV are too expensive for insurance companies to pay for. Don’t worry, America. Most physicians, I believe, are ethical and not gullible. We are not under the influence.
—MICHAEL D. DARDEN, M.D., ’74, GLENN DALE, MD.
MAKING FRIENDS WITH THE ENEMY
Thank you for the story of Jack Platt ’58 and Gennadiy Vasilenko (“Making Friends with the Enemy,” summer 2017). However, I don’t enjoy seeing Williams succumb to popular culture dumbing down. St. Basil’s cathedral in Moscow is a church. It is an iconic symbol of Russia located in Red Square but, despite the constant media portrayal, should not be used to symbolize the Russian government.
—MARGARET WALTON ’80, NEW YORK, N.Y.
Six pages of well-drawn, celebratory Trumpismo-brand patriotism is far from the ideal way to represent Williams. There’s always been a slightly odoriferous Williams-CIA link—in the 1950s I was felt out about “interest in national intelligence” by the chair of the history department—but no more than people need to know how Williams grass gets cut and snow gets cleared… There are a surfeit of other Williams stories and figures worth illustrator Raoul Allen’s skill. Please keep things on the intellectual plateau where the college belongs.
—D.E. STEWARD ’60, PRINCETON, N.J.
Here’s a follow-up to the story about the Center for Development Economics (CDE), “Developing Economies” (spring 2017). In 1980, Williams awarded an L.L.D. to then Vice President of Botswana Quett Masire.
The next month, he became president following the death of Botswana’s first president, Sir Seretse Khama. Masire held office until 1998. As finance minister, Masire created, managed and oversaw Botswana’s highly successful economy (world’s fastest growth rate from mid-1960s through 1990s). He was aided by a host of Ephs—Ken Matambo, now minister of nance, was the first to graduate from the CDE in ’75. Ken and Blackie Marole, CDE ’82, were the first black African directors of DeBeers. At one point the top civil service workers in finance and planning, budget, and mineral resources and the top economist advising the president were all CDE graduates. The late Professor Earl McFarland and I were consultants to Masire and his successors in finance for many years. Dr. Gaositwe Chiepe, one of Masire’s key ministers, once said to me, “You know, Steve, we think of Williams as our college.” Not a bad record for a small program at a small college.
—STEVE LEWIS ’60, ST. PAUL, MINN.