Letters to the editor


Author: Readers

Editor’s note: Letters that appeared in the spring print issue are marked with a double ##.

Missing letters

I just opened the Winter edition and was disappointed to find that the “letters to the editor” section was nowhere to be found. So many of us enjoy reading about the feelings and reactions of others to the stories presented. It also keeps the editors accountable. Posting the letters online just isn’t the same. Please bring them back in print.

Maureen McFall
Via email

Bummer – no letters to the editor! Way too much info about food service…. And a picture of a guy riding a bike without a helmet. Tsk, tsk.

W. D. Hohmann ’58
Via email

That milk riot, the real story

##The paragraph on the “The Great Milk Riot” in 1951-52 is quite inaccurate. I was there ducking flying glass like everyone else. The whole thing came about due to lack of communication with the students.

Without warning, at lunch one day they started serving 8-ounce glasses intending that there would be five 8-ounce glasses per day. Same total: 40 ounces. The immediate reaction was that we were being cheated (so to speak). At the same time there was a blood drive going on and soon there were signs saying, “No Milk-No Blood.” It all calmed down in a day or two, and I don’t remember ever going back to the 10-ounce glass.

Ed DeBoer ’53
Signal Mountain, Tennessee

##I was pleased — and simultaneously chagrined — to see the 1951-52 Great Milk Riot included as a sidebar in the entertaining and informative “Everything and the kitchen sink” cover story.

We were juniors that year, and Mike McKinstra of Freeport, Illinois, is widely believed to have instigated the glass-breaking spree. He was sincerely upset over the 2-ounce per serving reduction. However, as I recall, McKinstra (who later was ordained a priest for the Rockford Diocese) “accidentally” bumped his empty 8-ounce glass off the table, shattering it on the tile floor. As planned, we quickly followed.

I do not remember a glass smashing against the wall. We had enough common sense to realize shattered shards of glass likely could cause significant injury.

Thomas C. Murphy ’53
Green Bay, Wisconsin

Mystery meat and misery

##I worked as a “grubber” who cleared the remains of meals from dining hall tables, so I have an intimate knowledge of the fare that was dished out in the ’50s. Today’s ND students are missing out on what to us was a key part of the Notre Dame experience — rubbery eggs and mystery meat plopped upon one’s plate by servers who seemed delighted by our misery.

Ed Ricciuti ’59
Killingworth, Connecticut

Chewing glass

##“Everything and the Kitchen Sink” celebrated the improved quality and quantity of food service at today’s Notre Dame. In 1957 in the campus cafeteria, I found quite a few pieces of glass in my chili at dinner one night. I took them to a cafeteria supervisor standing at the end of the food line (we only had one food line). He took them and, with great disinterest, tossed them over his right shoulder against the back wall. He said, “Thanks,” and stared straight ahead. Obviously ND students then were much tougher than the coddled ND students of today.

Bill Fanning ’58
Hudson, Florida

Close to the source

##I’m glad to see that sourcing and sustainability are real topics and vital pieces of the community food conversation. Compliments to all those involved in serving it up.

Aldo Leopold once observed that everyone should know where their food comes from and where their heat comes from. Having some appreciation of the total work effort behind all the colorful items on the buffet line might give consumers more pause to consider. People sometimes ask why maple syrup is so pricey, but those are some long days in the sugar house and outside on the frozen hillsides. Syrup production can be a year-round job, it’s a lot of work, but it builds on the notion of good stewardship. Why would one bring damage to the land that provides sustenance.

Some years ago a speaker described America’s relationship with the land, pointing out that for nearly two centuries we chomped at the bit to get off the farm and break our dependence on the land. Get an education and brighten your future, the thinking went, rather than remain behind, tied to the land. But on occasion, sentiments shift, and Americans in significant numbers flock back to the land. I see some good and some hope in that.

Mike Bald ’88
South Royalton, Vermont

Allergy relief

##My husband and I were absolutely captivated by the recent edition, and we would like to express congratulations and thanks to Jocie Antonelli for the work she is doing. Our daughters have food allergies, and they are very extensive for the oldest. Until recent changes, fueled in part by the explosion in celiac disease, it was inconceivable that our daughter would be able to attend a residential college. We have been waiting, watching, praying and worrying . . . and cooking and cooking and cooking . . . for 15 years. Little did we know there was an ally in South Bend. Thank you, Ms. Antonelli!

Mary Agnes McAuliffe Rogers ’84
Silver Spring, Maryland

Thank you for the fabulous “Having coffee with Jocie Antonelli” in the Winter issue. When I was an undergrad, I didn’t know a single classmate with food allergies. I can still picture the dining hall salad bar with open tubs peanut butter, hard-boiled eggs and a variety of mysterious concoctions.

Now my three kids each have life-threatening allergies to multiple foods. One bite of the wrong food can trigger an anaphylactic reaction, requiring an injection of life-threatening epinephrine and a trip to the ER.

I have heard horror stories about students forced to leave other colleges mid-semester when the institutions were unwilling to accommodate their needs. I have fretted many times about whether I could send my kids off to college and still sleep at night. Would they be relegated to forgoing a meal plan and cooking for one in a dingy dorm kitchen? Or playing Russian roulette with cross-contaminated cafeteria food?

Your profile of Jocie Antonelli put my mind completely at ease. I don’t yet know whether Notre Dame and my kids will choose each other, but if they do, I now know they can not only survive, but thrive.

Kay Paulus ’98
via email

More on local food

Thank you for the Food for Thought issue and its photo articles and layout design. The cover photo is impeccable, while the Stillpoint photo addresses food choices and students as well as furniture and floor. The building and its tables and chairs are about 85 years old. I believe the students dining , about all, could be seated at once.

I also liked the details in the articles such as the 2006 inception year for the local program, the current five-state local designation and the number of farms reviewed and utilized.

Robert Hafel ’69

I was a little disappointed not to find a mention of Edible Michiana, our new local food magazine, in your food issue. Several ND faculty have written for it (myself included), but that’s not why it’s important: what’s great about it is that it’s supporting local food and sustainability year-round in our corner of the world. Give a nod to a great local resource that has in fact broken MANY local food stories in its short existence!

Sarah McKibben
Notre Dame, IN

Why Catholic?

##Michael Garvey’s eloquent apologia (“Still Catholic”) for staying in the Church reflects winsome liturgical piety. But the logic of Christian belief ultimately rests on the Bible’s historical record. What are we to make of the criminal God of the Old Testament who repeatedly recommends killing, rape and plunder of Jewish enemies? Or of the Jesus who seems to err in prophesizing the imminent end of the world within his own generation? Or of the differing Jesus genealogies, birth places and crucifixion dates among the four Gospels? To some modern biblical scholars, the “Thou Art Peter” mandate originates not from Jesus but from second century Christian leaders propping up the fledging church. Can all these passages be read as history or only as metaphor? These examples, among others, raise questions about inerrancy, infallibility and reliability that Notre Dame’s theologians might well address as a prerequisite for piety.

Rudy Gerber ’71J.D.
Encinitas, California

I really liked Michael Garvey piece.

Kevin P Gildart
Via email

The issue was all about food. Right? So why didn’t Michael Garvey mention it in his article titled “Still Catholic”? Three times Peter was asked by Jesus to feed His sheep. We go to His Church to be fed. His Church isn’t broken, we are broken.

Tom Wich ’63
Clarendon Hills, Illinois

As a reader for many years, I was particularly struck by Michael Garvey’s article “Still Catholic.” I also lived off campus on Angela Boulevard for nearly 30 years and have often wondered if anyone could truly explain what is mean by “The Spirit of Notre Dame.”

When Garvey described his daily jaunt through campus to attend Mass and describes the inevitable background music as “angelic or wondering if it was coming from the local Burger King,” he hit the nail on the head. A wide variety of life and experiences, just as in the Church in all its glory, Notre Dame, as its very heart is a holy place (even on Saturday) because of the Eucharistic presence of God in every spot on campus.

As Catholics, we should be very proud of the Catholic character that emanates from Mary’s home on the lake. I for one would say to Michael Garvey: “Well done, good and faithful servant of ‘God, Country and Notre Dame.’”

James R. Jones ’57
Tempe, Arizona

Global development

##I was pleased to read Steve Reifenberg’s excellent article on international development. As a practitioner and “_accompagnateur_” myself during the past 20 years, I appreciated Steve’s perspective from both the classroom and his decades working internationally.

International development is many things to many people; its history is replete with both successes and failures. Some of the successes, like immunizations and the green revolution, were brought about largely due to the technical and political leadership (and financing) of the U.S. government. Today, the United States still leads in providing prevention, care and treatment for HIV/AIDS and malaria, combating chronic malnutrition and food insecurity, mitigating the impacts of global climate change, promoting good governance and reducing preventable maternal and child deaths.

Yet all of the money the United States spends on development assistance represents less than 1 percent of the federal budget. Not a bad investment considering the millions of lives saved and millions more brought out of poverty. After 9/11, development overseas became one of the “three Ds” of national security, along with defense and diplomacy. That explains why development programs and the Foreign Service officers who manage them have such a large presence in many countries with ongoing conflicts.

While not widely reported, development successes are to be found even in places such as war-torn Afghanistan. In 2002, there were few children and no girls in public schools in Afghanistan, and the public health sector was nonfunctional. A decade later, of the 8 million children attending primary school, nearly 40 percent are girls. We know from rigorous evaluation and research that educating girls improves child survival, lowers population growth, raises family incomes and spurs community development. In the long-term, educating millions of Afghan girls will have a greater impact on Afghanistan’s transformation than possibly any other effort made in the history of international engagement in the country.

Erik Janowsky ’87
U.S. Agency for International Development
Washington, D.C.

Steve Reifenberg’s article in the Winter 2013-14 edition of Notre Dame Magazine ranks among the best I have ever read. Professor Reifenberg not only made great substantive points on efforts to improve the quality of human lives, but presented them in a positive and accessible way, with fitting quotes the Scripture. Bravo!

Bob Boldt ’95J.D.
Los Angeles

The other side

##Thank you for publishing Carolyn Shivers’ “Tell me he’s in heaven.” I found her strength in recounting that story to be inspiring, and I was especially touched by the words of the kind seminarian: “God reaches out to all of us in our darkest times. Sometimes he doesn’t catch us until we’re on the other side of this life.” I will remember and repeat those words for a long time.

Matthew Miller ’94
Leawood, Kansas

Land of the free

“The Land of the Free” concludes that we should view immigrants as “our fuel for innovation, our labor force to spur economic growth, even a critical tax base.” Proponents of high rates of immigration, like corporations who profit from increased sales volumes and the downward pressure on wages, have always attributed these magical economic powers to immigrants – powers which, by implication, the American populace must lack. But the evidence speaks otherwise. It’s not as though immigration is something new. The U.S. has admitted more than a million new immigrants every year for decades. Yet, our halting economy is kept out of recession only by massive, unsustainable stimulus spending and quantitative easing.

Immigrants arrive with no such economic powers. They are merely people, no different than the rest of us. In the final analysis, the only effect of immigration is to grow our population. Any debate on immigration is pointless unless it centers on the question of the wisdom of growing our population further. Does our labor force really need more workers? Do we really need more urban sprawl and traffic congestion? Do we really need more oil consumers and more carbon emitters? Should we ignore the fact that this “critical tax base” will swell the ranks of social security beneficiaries in the future?

Any economic model that depends upon population growth to keep it going is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme, ultimately doomed to failure. Given our decades of rampant immigration and given the state of our economy, perhaps the time has come to consider that our liberal immigration policy may actually be exacerbating our economic malaise.

Pete Murphy, ’71
Clarkston, Michgan

Great issue

Loved the Winter 2013-2014 issue “Food for Thought.” Fascinating info about how all of the food on campus is “created.” Also loved the “Young Alumni Essay Contest Winners,” so real and touching but heartbreaking, at times. Thank you for all that you do.

Peggy Griffin, mother of Molly Griffin Lalonde ‘06 and Mitchell Griffin’12
Via email

What a delightful magazine you put out. I’m the spouse of an alum and can’t believe how much I enjoy the mag of a university I didn’t even attend. Top quality writing, subtle insights, interesting in-depth pieces. Truly, a pleasure to read. Makes me wish I’d attended ND.

Nancy Brown, wife of David A Brown ’91

When would you fight?

Very interesting article about the “What Would You Fight For?” series. However, it didn’t answer an obvious question: Why aren’t the ads filmed further in advance of their air dates?

Gerry Swider
Via email

Farewell, Father Dunne

I did not fully enjoy much of my time on campus while at student at ND. Loneliness, depression and high school burn-out took their toll on me before I had even set foot in Farley Hall. However, I found immense meaning from a year abroad in Angers, France, and especially from having taken John Dunne’s class that made up for any lack I left the university with.

I obediently stood in line to sign up for Father Dune’s class in 1971, while rumor had it that others were fighting in line to take a course in nonviolence.

For me it was Dunne’s humanity that drew me to his spontaneous teaching style more than to any kind of spiritual trait of his which one can always be in awe too. As a teacher myself, I can appreciate how much of his teaching he had bravely left to spontaneous insights that gifted him right in front of our eyes. I will always remember those special moments. We were truly blessed to witness his teaching artistry.

I owe it to Dunne’s teaching that I literally “passed over” to other religions and spiritually artistic activities when my Catholic faith hit many bumps and lapsed for good in the 1980s. I tried on Buddhism, agnosticism, TM and tai-chi, performance art, sculpture and painting until finally settling on art-making and the Baha’i faith, of which I have no doubt is the religion being born today. I know that Father Dunne would be proud of me for struggling through such a circuitous route to finding my heart’s desire. I believe the Bab in the 19th century announced the imminent coming of the Messiah Baha’u’llah, whom all religions have been awaiting. He is every bit God’s messenger and promised one as Moses, Abraham, Zoroaster, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna and Muhammad were.

Finally, Father Dunne taught us something no other priest would dare to speak, let along write, and that is, “We are not made in God’s image, but rather He is made in ours.” That one single statement is something I will never forget, as his words propelled me to become a passionate learner, an original artist and an independent thinker. Thanks, John, you have given me more than you ever could have imagined.

Eric Pino ’72

Inspiring … or not

The special reflections comprising the ‘Notre Dame Inspires’ article from the autumn issue were touching. The two very personal stories from my fellow LGBT alumni really moved me. Thank you. The inclusive spirit of the article was very inspiring indeed!

Brian O’Connor ’01
Via email

About the time I was a Notre Dame student, David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the KKK, ran for president. Imagine he won and was the most pro-KKK president in history. Imagine racism was alive and well across the country, and lynching was a daily, common occurrence. Imagine the president refused to take a stand against this evil act.

Now imagine the University of Notre Dame invited this president to be the commencement speaker at a graduation. Imagine that the students gave him a standing ovation and he was awarded an honorary degree. Then years later, an alumna wrote to Notre Dame Magazinein the Autumn 2013 issue to say that this was her most inspiring moment at ND, ending her letter by saying, “Open hearts, open minds, we are ND.” Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

Notre Dame has much to be proud of, but when the most pro-abortion president in history visited the university in 2009 it was not our finest moment.

Larry Hau ’85


I read the brief article in the Autumn 2013 “seen & heard” that undocumented students will now be welcome at ND. I get that this fits with the Catholic tradition, but how does it fit with the point that “undocumented” means “within this country without verifiable legal status?” Does this not put the University at odds with the federal government of the United States? More words are needed on this point by “seen & heard.”
Chris Barlock ’82
Via email


I greatly enjoyed the article “Degnan’s Rules” in your Autumn 2013 edition. The recipe for good writing as prescribed in Professor Degnan’s “clinic” was strong medicine, even for talented writers: rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Although some of my professors at Notre Dame encouraged me to do the same, I resisted, like many young people do, the repetitive task. Rather I confided in the ray of genius that I thought I had, sent to me straight from Mary’s outstretched golden hand on the top of the Dome. Handwritten comments in capital letters by my professors I disregarded; I was inspired and determined to write. Thankfully, I met my own Degnan in graduate school, when I was ready to listen to sage advice. This teacher reminded me over and over that writing is a difficult task. He told me (and still tells me) that putting words worth reading on a page is a test of endurance, requiring much patience and humility. My mentor, like Professor Degnan, is never unwilling to read and correct, to return to my fraught pages and comment on my repeated errors. Thank you for reminding me that despite our culture’s obsession with flashes of brilliance and sparks of genius, the continually burning low flame produces more radiant light.

Liam Brockey ’94
East Lansing, Michigan

Sacred spaces

I opened the Autumn 2013 magazine to the second page, and the scene of the campus I found there caught my breath. As I looked at the full two-page spread of the campus where I only spent four years but which still feels like home to me, I was surprised to notice tears welling in my eyes. Every morning of my senior year, I would wake up in Breen-Phillips Hall and look out my west-facing window at the dome and at Mary, and I would feel the palpable presence of God. The four years I spent at Notre Dame — in so many sacred spaces on campus — helped me to feel that God is alive in the world. Something of what you captured in this lovely photo brought that back for me and I am so deeply grateful.

Jennifer Tilghman-Havens, ’95
Seattle, Washington

Priests and the law

In your Letters to the Editor on Page 5 of the Autumn 2013 edition of your magazine, Mr. James J. Rakowski of Bremen, IN hit the nail on the head when he says: “There may have been an attitude fostered in the Church that priests are beyond the law,” I agree wholeheartedly. Transferring a pedophile priest from one parish to another parish is definitely not the right thing to do. God have mercy on them all. And people wonder why I’ve stopped going to Mass on Sundays?? Thank you for your attention.

Roberto Concepcion ’’78

Is the education worth the cost?

(A response to the Summer 2013 article): When I graduated in 1961 I had a total debt of $300 owed to the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) Loan Program. I lived off-campus my last two years, worked in the kitchen at St. Mary’s, worked nonstop in the summers and did without anything I didn’t absolutely need. My parents sent me $50 a month during the school year.

What do you do with an English major? I saw my professors living lives devoted to reading, thinking, talking and writing about literature. President Eisenhower said that a teaching career contributed as much to military preparedness as any other form of service. I applied to graduate school, UCLA, earned a Ph.D. and had a career as an English Professor.

I have spent my life at the table first set in Plato’s Symposium. I have been in continuous communication across time and space with the writers, chiefly poets, who have shaped our spiritual and intellectual habitat. I have introduced at least two generations of students, maybe three or four, to this community, and I now see some of them on Facebook still living the life.

I run a blog called EnglishMajors.org, and there we think we are the leaven in the loaf of English-speaking (and writing and reading) culture.

It has been worth everything to me, and my skills have always been for sale, putting me in a long line of scribes sitting in stalls at market corners.

Keep an eye out for us. We will always be there.

Lyn Relph ’61
Via email

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