Letters to the Editor

Letters: November/December 2017

We welcome readers’ letters, which should be mailed to Letters Editor, Yale Alumni Magazine, PO Box 1905, New Haven, CT 06509-1905; e-mailed to yam@yale.edu; or faxed to (203) 432-0651. Due to the volume of correspondence, we are unable to respond to or publish all mail received. Letters accepted for publication are subject to editing.

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I love the “Smorgasbord” issue (September/October): best ever! The articles and photos are outstanding. Keep up the excellent work.

Sandra Jee ’92
Rochester, NY


“Eating at Yale Has Changed—Drastically” (September/October) is a terrific article about a great dining plan that has evolved with true direction with regard to dietary health, diversity, vegetarianism, sustainability, and general wholesomeness in dining service. Congratulations and keep up the good work.

Jeff Trombetta
Guilford, CT


Your September/October series on food begins: “Whether you eat to live or live to eat . . .” It is pretty much the last time there is any mention of concerns affecting the six-sevenths of the world still eating to live. Instead, for the hero of the lead article—Rafi Taherian—sustainability “encompasses food that is locally or regionally sourced and produced in ways that support ‘environmental and food-system resiliencies.’” This simply dresses up “small is beautiful” in twenty-first-century marketing claims; it is a disservice to Yale and Yalies to cheer food fads without ever discussing one of the world’s great challenges: feeding a still largely hungry, malnourished world.

Moreover, some food-fad claims get carried away from facts on the ground. For example, science suggests that grass-fed beef is likely more climate-forcing than concentrated-feed diets because of prolonged animal methane emissions. Cage-free eggs are too costly for the vast majority of the world, the science on its “humaneness” remains unsettled, and it is clearly less hygienic for product and hen alike. Local sourcing rests on a new discredited argument about “food miles,” and its endorsement of local self-sufficiency builds a high-cost food system the resiliency of which offers little food security for those not well off. It also ignores the environmental dividends of a global food system built on specialization and comparative advantage. The series, in a word, ignores the really important “food-system resiliencies.”

There was a time when a food discussion at Yale would begin at the Economic Growth Center and the challenges of feeding the billion people suffering food insecurity and the billions more in the throes of wrenching economic development. Now it seems to celebrate food as the latest fashion industry for the well off. Someone at Yale should be teaching students more about eating to live; it is at least as important as learning about living to eat.

Rob Johnson ’68
Wayzata, MN


Melinda Beck’s article “Eating at Yale Has Changed—Drastically” revealed the remarkable creativity in the current Yale dining enterprise. For generations, the free exchange of ideas and the social interaction which takes place in the dining halls has been an important component of the Yale experience, enhanced by the current care and attention to the food offerings. It should be pointed out that these offerings are now curated and made more accessible by the Yale Dining app and by the Yale Menus app, created by Hopper suitemates Eric Foster ’20 and Jacob Malinowski ’20 and described in a column by Sammy Westfall ’21 in the Yale Daily News on September 18. The Yale dining experience has been enhanced by information technology.

Raymond F. Crystal ’60
Short Hills, NJ


I read with pleasure all the articles on food at Yale and New Haven. I was disappointed that you never mentioned one important connection between Yale/New Haven and great food—the Culinary Institute of America. My grandmother, Frances L. Roth, was born and raised in New Haven. She went straight from Hillhouse High School to NYU Law School, the last person to be admitted without an undergraduate degree, and the only woman in her class.  She had a successful legal career in New Haven, but after World War II sought a new challenge. She and Katherine Angell, the widow of Yale president James Rowland Angell, started the CIA, which was housed in what is now called Betts House on Prospect Street. Yale gave the CIA a boost to get started, helping finance the mortgage on the building and also using the CIA’s catering services for a variety of events. 

My grandmother never earned a Yale degree, although her brother, both her daughters, her son-in-law, a grandson, and numerous other relatives did. But she ran the CIA from its beginning in 1946 until it was moved to its much larger current campus in Hyde Park, New York, in 1972. The CIA’s contribution to the food culture of the entire United States is immense, and it all started in New Haven, with Yale’s help.

Jonathan Wallman ’64
Alexandria, VA


For more on the subject, see “Angell of the CIA” in our January/February 2008 issue.—Eds.


Borrowing my husband’s copy, I read with great interest your description of food at Yale: nutritious, tasty, environmentally sound. But alas, the cost: $6,800 per academic year! No wonder after freshman year “more than half of all upperclassmen now live off campus and many cite saving money on food as a key reason.”

My concern is that Yale may become a two-tier system: affluent and full-scholarship students live in the colleges and thus have many contacts there; students with less financial resources are thus discouraged from living on campus. If one goal is to broaden exposure to the diverse range of students who enroll at Yale, the existing food plan seems at odds with that goal.

Virginia Williams
Hillsborough, NC


Because of an editing error, the article overstated the percentage of students living off campus. According to the provost’s office, 26 percent of juniors and 40 percent of seniors live off campus, or 17 percent of all undergraduates. (First-years and sophomores are required to live on campus.) We regret the error.—Eds.


More alums in food

I was thrilled to see that your September/October issue featured alumni who have made careers around preparing and studying food. However, I want to make you aware of an important omission that I felt detracted from the issue. Ashley Rose Young ’10 is employed as the historian of the American Food History Project at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Not only has Ashley’s work revealed interesting connections among transatlantic food cultures and among immigrant communities within the United States, but much of her research has centered on the food of the American South as an engine for equity in the region. She has made extensive efforts to highlight the work of, for example, Lena Richards, a woman of color whose televised cooking presentations predated those of the esteemed Julia Child.

Ashley’s research comes at a time when food movements and social justice movements are inextricably linked, and her rigorous academic approach to these issues past and present cannot be overlooked. I hope that you will see fit to mention Ashley’s work in a future issue of the magazine. She is a shining example of the kind of worldly, inclusive scholarship espoused by Yale College.

Sarah Dewey ’10
Seattle, WA


As an alum and New Haven–area resident and frequent enjoyer of food and drink, I read your September/October issue with interest. I was disappointed that my classmate Blair Potts’s business, Potts Chocolate, did not merit a mention. I have been a fan of Potts’s potables since I sampled his brewing from Elm City Brewery. I was very impressed with the eatery they added to the brewery. Alas, all good things come to an end, and Blair left the area, making it far harder for me to enjoy his work.

But happily, his current endeavor involves shippable chocolates and so, once again, I can sample his output, which is as excellent as everything else he has done. In fact, his chocolate tasting at our last reunion was a highlight. I strongly recommend ordering a box of the salted caramels as research to confirm my claims.

Brendan Hemingway ’84
Branford, CT


Students who served

The caption for your photo of the Pierson dining hall in 1940 (“Residential College Dining When It Began,” September/October) declares with regard to dining hall servers that “students never held that campus job.” In my freshman year (1959–60), most of us receiving financial aid were absolutely required to perform this loathsome duty. Of course, it probably provided more character development than classes and sports.

Sky Magary ’63
Litchfield, CT


I worked in Timothy Dwight College in 1949–50. We did not wait on tables, but we dished out food in a cafeteria line. One of my classmates (he shall remain nameless) came to dinner in Commons one night without a tie. He was not admitted. He returned a few minutes later with a jacket and a tie, but no shirt. I have no idea where he ate that night.

Michael Lazare ’53
Hollis, NH


Many Yale students through the decades have worked in the dining halls, busing tables, washing dishes, or ladling food onto plates. But we heard from two pre–World War II alumni who had actually worked as table servers in the residential colleges—even though, as we reported in the article, the gift that established the bursary system was intended to prevent scholarship students from having to wait on their peers. For more on the subject, see From the Editor, page 2.—Eds.


First class

In your graduation coverage (“Commencement ’17,” July/August), Professor Guido Calabresi said he had taught at Yale since 1959. But his notable teaching history goes back further than he claims. On behalf of my 20-plus fellow class members in freshman Econ 10 in 1955–56, I’d like to claim our historical asterisk as the first Yale students taught by then–Mr. Calabresi, when he was a first-year law student. He taught a great course, so good that other students would sneak into our small class to listen.

Daniel G. Schweikert ’59
Arlington, VA


A Great War memorial

Thank you very much to Jay Winter for a compelling and informative account of World War I, told through particular places and events (“How to Commemorate Catastrophe,” March/April). May I suggest one more? In Frelinghien, France, on the border with Belgium, stands a monument to the 1914 Christmas Truce, when thousands of soldiers from both sides met in no-man’s land for songs, games of soccer, and exchanging trinkets. This moment of possibility stands as a bright contrast to the gloom of subsequent years.

Rev. James deBoer ’11MDiv
Highland Park, NJ


Letters re: letters

In response to the letter in your September/October issue with respect to the appointment of John Kerry to the Yale faculty: the writer, Edwin S. Rockefeller ’48, ’51LLB, is guilty of “swift-boating” Mr. Kerry once again. As a swift boat skipper decorated for bravery in action, Kerry was smeared during the 2004 presidential campaign by a phony group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth claiming that the events never happened. It was like the “Birther” campaign that Mr. Obama was not born in the United States. “Swift boating” became the name used for smearing a person by lying about his service records.

So Mr. Rockefeller should know better than to try it once again against Mr. Kerry by claiming that he was “branded by his US Navy fellow officers” as “unfit for command.” Anyone who has worn the uniform knows that such a determination can be made only by those higher in the chain of command. “Branding” (making public) by such a cabal “of his US Navy fellow officers,” in my view as a former Air Force JAG, may well be a court martial offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which applies to all members of the US Armed Services.

With respect to Mr. Rockefeller’s assertions that Mr. Kerry is a “relentless self-promoter” and a “failure as a secretary of state,” I am quite sure that he could find a group of Republicans to support such claims against him and every other Democrat that served as secretary of state. Of course he is entitled to state his opinion—for whatever that may be worth.

C. J. Lipton ’54LLB
New York, NY


I no longer want to receive the Yale Alumni Magazine. I can no longer stand the letters that you publish from folks who seem to live in an alternate universe. I wanted to reply to them many times over the years, but then I just moved on, after rolling my eyes. The comments in your September/October issue on the article about John Kerry are both out of touch with reality and offensive. Harry Richardson ’51 states: “It is important that we hear from the left-wing liberals [Kerry and President Levin] why they think the American public made a serious error in electing Donald Trump and a Republican Senate and House.” Isn’t the lack of response from the White House to the tragedy that is currently afflicting Puerto Rico enough of an answer? The threat to the medical coverage of millions of Americans? The offensive remarks about women and the disabled? The sheer incompetence? The arrogance?

To make matters even worse, your articles about alumni in food were a veritable festival of animal cruelty that I, an animal rights activist and vegan, cannot tolerate. The horrific photograph of Marc Agger ’86MBA proudly posing with a hook inside a fish’s mouth truly takes the prize.

This is not the Yale that changed my life, where I spent 14 memorable years, learning and teaching. I therefore disassociate myself from the Yale Alumni Magazine and what it stands for. Effective immediately.

Gloria Monti ’85, ’00PhD
Fullerton, CA


Brexit and globalism

I was sorry to see in the address Richard Levin made at Yale-NUS College’s first graduation ceremony (“Preserving the Open Society,” July/August) that he considered the decision of the UK to leave the European Union as one example of a “populist and anti-globalist reaction” to disparities in income and wealth following three decades of technology-led growth and trade liberalization.

The protectionist European Union is hardly a globalist organization, but in any case most of the voters in the UK referendum no doubt wanted, above all, the UK to regain its right to govern itself and to extend its influence globally.

Edward P. B. Muggridge ’50
London, United Kingdom

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