Arab Uprisings

I was greatly unsettled by Steven Cook ’90 and Glen Johnson’s article on Egypt in the Winter 2012 issue. Nowhere is it mentioned that 15 percent of Egypt’s population is Christian (mostly Coptic Orthodox Christians, the ancient indigenous church), and it is they who are in the greatest danger of what could become a genocide if an “Islamist” regime takes over.

I lived in Cairo from 1978 to 1984 and remember well how bad things got in 1980 when one single word in the constitution was changed: from “Sharia law is ‘a’ source of law” to “Sharia law is ‘the’ source of law.” My significant other, Mirrit Boutros Ghali (founder of the Society for Coptic Archaeology and a Coptic member of the Shura Council, also a former cabinet minister), protested in Parliament in vain.

It is imperative that people in the West be aware of the precarious situation of these millions of Christians.

Leslie S.B. MacCoull ’65
Senior Research Scholar
Society for Coptic Archaeology
Tempe, Arizona

Vassar and Boxing

Imagine my surprise when I opened up the latest issue of the VQ [Winter 2012] and read about my celebrity brother (Brian Burke) in the boxing article! Frank Bergon did a great job of getting at what’s ineffable about the sport, especially in the feedback from students who felt inspired by the experience. His observations about boxing’s nobility and its place in the culture provided that larger, big-picture view. Let’s face it, boxing can be brutal and somewhat insane. Who would want to hurt and be hurt? It’s so counterintuitive. Still, his article made me want to put on the gloves—for a couple of seconds.

Marianne Burke ’80
Maplewood, New Jersey
Editor’s Note

We were saddened to hear of the passing of Anne MacKay ’49, author of the seminal volume Wolf Girls at Vassar: Lesbian & Gay Experiences 1930–1990, this April. Anne was a pivotal figure in Vassar’s LGBTQ history and a beloved figure to her class and the closely associated Class of 1948. VQ has received several letters about Anne since her passing, including this one, which aptly describes her personality:

I first met Anne MacKay at a conference of the Lesbian and Gay Alumnae/i of Vassar College more than 20 years ago. Within hours, I loved and respected her. Anne was strong, colorful, and wise. She was, first and foremost, a teacher, giving us strength by grounding us in our collective history. Whether speaking of her beloved Class of ’48/’49, advocating for women’s and lesbian rights, or reaching across the divide of coeducation to express pride in “our boys,” Anne believed in the best of us, and invited us to rise above the cynicism.

On a gorgeous early fall day last September, my partner and I visited Anne at her home on the North Fork, where she spontaneously broke out into some of her own bawdy songs. Anne was amazing. She was the best, and we will miss her terribly. But, as with our best teachers, she will always be with us.

Jeff Goodman ’82
New York, New York

In response to our Winter 2012 article on the Sesquicentennial Sukkot project, which included a panel discussion about the history of Jewish life at Vassar, Elinor Heller Crandall ’50 filled us in on an important, but missing piece of the puzzle—how the first Hillel student group came to campus. For an independent study course in 1949, Heller interviewed 50 students—25 Jewish and 25 non-Jewish—about whether there should be a Jewish student group on campus. Respondents were largely in favor. Armed with these results, she presented her findings to the college administration, and Vassar’s first Hillel group was started the following year.