June 2009 -

Letters to the Editor

June 2009

The Big Picture
The Husky Women's Cross Country team goes undefeated, dominates the NCAA championships, and Coach Greg Metcalf is named National Coach of the Year, yet these accomplishments are barely acknowledged with a tiny photo and paragraph in the sports roundup ["Husky Sports Roundup," March 2009]. Conversely, on the adjacent page is a full-page article about the new coach of a football team that lost every single game last year. Of course football generates millions of dollars, but those cross country runners are every bit as dedicated to their sport and equally deserving of our support and accolades. Congratulations, Husky Women's Cross Country Team.

Laurie Kutrich, '82
Thom Kutrich, '88

Why We Needed Art
Thanks for introducing the work of Ellen Dissanayake to so many of us ["Why Do We Need Art?" March 2009]. I found it fascinating, likely because she has integrated so many fields of study. The article took me back to the first four years of McMahon Hall, then an upper-division and graduate dormitory. It was filled with bright, creative students, including Ph.D. candidates from many departments. No matter our majors, we were interested in artistic things—music, dance, painting, photography, sculpture and movie-making. In early 1967, some of us on the eighth floor of McMahon got involved in making a film eventually titled Epitaphium Bubonis. The 14-minute film was inspired by the Beatles' movie HELP! We did a lot of chasing around in Seattle and on campus. The musical soundtrack on magnetic tape included many sounds of the day. I am not sure what role Dissanayake might say it played in human evolution. Perhaps it was just a distraction from studies necessary for maintaining our individual sanities.

Richard Kangas, '69
Selma, Calif.

"Only" Disconnect
I enjoyed reading about Ellen Dissanayake and her research in the March issue. I was upset, however, to read that she "has only a master's degree for a credential." Not only that, but she "doesn't even have a Ph.D." As if that were not enough, she is also "a self-taught scholar" (emphases mine). The implication is that a master's degree is virtually worthless, and doesn't make you a master of anything. Is that the message you want to send to all your alumni? If a master's degree is worthless, then what is a bachelor's degree worth? I assume substantially less than nothing. I wonder why all those students have labored for years and sacrificed so much. Do you seriously think that it is an unusual occurrence for someone with only a master's degree to accomplish something? Please think more about the implications of what you print.

Arn Slettebak, '81

Editor's Note: We received many letters objecting to the phrase "only a master's degree," a choice of words we regret. Our intention was not to practice academic snobbery but to profile an independent scholar who had prevailed in the face of it.

Painful Memories
I'm very disappointed with your decision to include a picture of the self-immolation incident in "Red Square" ["First Responders," March 2009]. There was no need to include this picture. For those who were there, it simply brings back painful memories. For those who weren't there, I'm sure your description was adequate. Please show more sensitivity in the future.

Aaron Hoard, '94
Lake Forest Park

In the March 2009 issue, photographs accompanying the article "Lifelines and Vital Signs" should have been credited to Kathy Sauber, not Mary Levin. The article "Why Do We Need Art?" incorrectly referred to "rock art of the American Southwest . that predates the Lascaux cave paintings [in France] by thousands of years." Experts currently date the oldest Southwest American rock art to 5,000-7,000 years after the Lascaux paintings. The article also misquoted Ellen Dissanayake, referring to "sing-sings" as Sri Lankan singing competitions. Sing-sings are a tradition in Papua New Guinea and are non-competitive. Due to an editing error, James R. Orr, '71, of Lander, Wyo., was included in the "In Memory" section. He called to say that "Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." (Another James R. Orr, who attended the UW but did not earn a degree, died on Nov. 7, 2008.) The editors of Columns regret the errors.


Letters to the editor are encouraged. Brief letters are more likely to be published; longer letters may be edited. Please include a daytime phone number.

Editor, Columns Magazine
1415 N.E. 45th Street, Seattle, WA 98105
fax to 206-685-0611