By Vassar Quarterly

Touch Football

Just finished reading the most recent Vassar Quarterly and was delighted to see the touch football photo [Vassar Yesterday, Fall 2009]—our class of 1963 had such fun and enthusiasm! I’d told my father (a dentist in State College, Pennsylvania) that we played touch football senior year, and he suggested a match to Rip Engle, then coach of the Penn State football team (yes, there was a coach before Paterno!). Coach Engle said they’d be glad to play Vassar, but, of course, that was as far as it went—they were probably afraid of being embarrassed!

Anyway, great to see the photo with Babs Currier Bell and Betsy Wilbur Miner on the offense.

Dede Nieman Rothenberg '63
Mount Kisco, New York

Vivat Academia!

Our reunion last June was wonderful—the campus looked beautiful and the students we met were impressive, courteous, helpful, intelligent—all one could ask. I am hoping to have at least one grandchild at Vassar before too long. Our class program was excellent.

But many of us felt there was one glaring omission—there was no college-wide singing of the centuries-old academic anthem “Gaudeamus Igitur,”always sung during our own college years. Our class sung it anyway. This is a link both to the past and to colleges and universities throughout the world and, as such, is important. In our fast-changing world today, we need all the tradition we can get.

Helen Forve O’ Leary '49
San Rafael, California

Prizing the Pulitzer

I would like to congratulate Alexandra Berzon ’01 on a terrific accomplishment and Matt Brelis ’80 on an interesting and comprehensive interview [“High Stakes in Las Vegas, ”Fall2009]. It’s rare for one journalist to honestly interview another, and with none of the self-congratulation one might expect, given that both professionals were awarded public service Pulitzers at such young ages.

Quite a contrast from recent interviews of reporters working in Haiti by their TV anchors—they were invariably aimed at “humanizing” the reporters. Nothing news worthy about that.

Here is a courageous young woman taking a huge risk in reporting on a powerful industry’s serious problem, seemingly white washed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Good for you, Alexandra. I may even start reading the Wall Street Journal.

Robert Weiss '80
New York, New York

I greatly enjoyed reading the interview conducted by Matthew Brelis with Alexandra Berzon...for many reasons. As someone in the New York City construction industry for 28 years, I find it criminal when companies are permitted to take shortcuts where the safety of workers is concerned. There truly is no excuse, and articles like Ms. Berzon’s are what is needed to bring this problem to light.

I was happy to hear that Berzon thinks first about how her reporting might directly affect the people she is interviewing. I am sure that many reporters bend to the pressures of their editors in order to get a story, not caring about the ramifications.

Finally, I was thrilled by how Mr. Brelis brought it all back to Vassar. He made me think about how my own experience as a Vassar urban studies major helped to shape my career. Well done.

Todd Phillips '80
New York, New York

As a former Misc staffer, I enjoyed my classmate Matthew Brelis’s interview with Alexandra Berzon. It was so nice to see our Pulitzer Prize winners comparing notes on the reporting, the winning, and the aftermath.

When I was at Vassar way back in 1978, I was lucky enough to have another alumna Pulitzer Prize winner, Lucinda [Franks] Morgenthau ’68, for a composition professor. With all of the budget issues, I hope bringing such talented people to campus will still be possible.

I agree with Berzon’s point that no one at Vassar really tells you how to get a journalism job or an internship at the Washington Post — but not being handed these things is, in part, what makes a good journalist. Reporting is about knowing how to get things from all angles. So I guess it is no surprise that Berzon not only found her place, but did such excellent reporting. While the methods of distribution may be changing journalism, getting to the facts and telling a story remain the same.

Diane Asadorian Masters '80
West Lafayette, Indiana