Letters to Editor, June 1995

March 1995 Columns

Credit Where Credit's Due

In reading the excellent article The Age of Dissonance, about Alzheimer's research being done at the University of Washington, I think Jon Marmor did a very nice job of describing the exciting changes and opportunities in this field and the front line work that is being done by several of our faculty members.

I was terribly distressed, however, to see that there was absolutely no mention in the article that any of the work or that any of the participants were sponsored by the VA Medical Center. In fact, the full salaries of all three participants are totally covered by the VA Hospital and several thousand feet of research space and accompanying research dollars are provided by the VA for this important research. Since the reporter's interview with Dr. Tom Bird was done at the VA, I am sure he was aware of the role of the VA in this endeavor. Because the VA is a very active partner in the teaching and research missions of the University, I think it is very appropriate that it be given credit where credit is due.

I bring this issue up not only as a matter of pride and fairness, but as a very practical issue relative to the stability of VA funding for research and education. As is the case of many other federally funded programs, dollars that come out of the federal budget to support research and education are constantly under attack. The VA research and education budget in particular has been under attack because of lack of visibility in the local and national press regarding the good things the VA does do. We would appreciate your helping us maintain this level of funding by adding your support to getting the message out to the public, which includes our alumni, when appropriate.

Associate Dean Charles B. Smith
Chief of Staff
VA Medical Center

Editor's Note: Dr. Smith is correct in pointing out our omission. The VA Medical Center is a vital partner in Alzheimer's research at the UW.

Nuts, Bolts and Sex

I am sure many read and appreciated Rose Pike's article about Pepper Schwartz Sex, Truths and Videotape. Alarms sounded, however, when I read of her studies on relationships. The first alarm rang with her apparent singular praise of the egalitarian relationship.

Let me illustrate a marriage as the union of a nut and a bolt. Two different things come together to make one functional unit; two pieces that were designed to complement each other; two parts that, because of their differences, can contribute to the required task in separate ways; two halves which see the same job from different sides. There is quality of importance but not equality of strengths and weaknesses. Marriage is a oneness that can only be achieved when complementary parts are joined.

On the other hand, two bolts have the same design. Bolts are important, but two bolts cannot fasten anything together because they are alike, not complementary. Egalitarian relationships in same-sex couples are more easily achieved because of the similarity of the two parts that make up the couple.

To hastily throw away traditional roles, and use the egalitarian relationship as the ideal, can frustrate the marriage relationship as much as using traditional roles as an excuse for abuse.

The second alarm sounded when the concern was raised about a boyfriend's love-making style. Style is not the issue when about 2,000 babies were killed in this country today before they could see the light of day. About that many more were born to people unprepared for parenthood. And why are sexually transmitted diseases rampant today? And why are long-lasting, satisfying marriages built on trust, fidelity and good health so difficult to achieve?

I found little in this article which encourages me to support the views apparently being taught by Professor Schwartz.

Mike Rorabaugh, '76

Islam and Female Rites

I would like to clarify a point Rose Pike made in "Sex, Truths and Videotape" that appeared in the March Columns. Specifically, Pike describes a student nurse's question to Professor Pepper Schwartz regarding a "Muslim woman who had undergone a genital circumcision." The rationale for female circumcision is given as a "coming-of-age and religious ritual elsewhere." As a Muslim nurse, I would like to explain that Islam does not require female circumcision in any form. According to Dr. Nahid Toubia, an international expert on this subject, the practice of female circumcision is a custom of some African countries that crosses cultural and religious groups including Christians, Muslims, Jews and followers of indigenous African religions. However, neither Christianity, Islam nor Judaism require female circumcision.

Sedighen Kunkel
Albuquerque, NM

Stronger Seasoning Needed

Regarding the Pepper Schwartz article, I think it fell far short. I read the first two pages intently word for word, and, not being up to the total task, scanned the third just for content. I did not see that there was much there. Page three did drop some hints of good stuff that could have been developed or followed up. "She organized a sex education group in her basement when she was 10." Precocious child? Extremely enlightened parents? The riddle to her energies and success? Sadly, none of that was followed up.

... So the Pepper mystique is still without salt. ... It was not even a good read. And Ms. Schwartz is a fine lady, or being non-sexist, a fine person, and she does speak out, putting the ivory tower back on Third and Pike where it belongs. But I am wondering, are there others on campus who also think or even say it better? What is she really saying?

Wesley Johnson, '56

Remembering 'Ernie'

Late one afternoon in the spring of 1976, Ernie Conrad made his annual journey into the HUB to welcome the new ASUW president. I was floored. Who was this old geezer and what the hell was he doing here? He displayed the character of a genius, a saint that cared and could easily laugh at his mistakes.

He was a teacher. We walked back to the Administration Building where Conrad stopped inside the main entrance to have a chat with a gentleman waxing the floor. He asked that janitor about members of his family by name. Conrad then turned to me and said, "Remember, everyone is just as important to themselves as you are to yourself."

There's a lot more. Quiet wisdom, hard work and honesty. Goodbye Uncle Ernie. Thank you.

Remember, everyone is just as important to themselves as you are to yourself.

Chris Pearson, '77
San Diego

Editor's Note: Ernest Conrad, '40, served the UW for 32 years, 11 of them as vice president for business and finance. He died Nov. 21, 1994..

Treadgolden Memories

I was saddened to find the notice of History Professor Donald Treadgold's death in the March 1995 Obituaries I took Dr. Treadgold's class in the History of Christianity. I look back on that class as the best example of teaching that I encountered during my undergraduate career. Faced with a classroom full of people who ranged from fundamentalist to agnostic, Treadgold somehow managed to push us through all the contentious issues with his dignity and message intact.

...I was used to full professors who appeared only in front of a lecture room. Therefore, for a department chair such as Dr. Treadgold to spend the hour after class having a cup of coffee in the HUB in order to converse with his students was a pleasant shock. Several of those conversations are still clear in my mind.

...I returned to Seattle for a visit in 1987 and stopped in at the UW to see whether any of my favorite professors were still around. I found Professor Treadgold in his office, and to my surprise he remembered me. It seemed he had nothing he would rather do than spend the better portion of an hour having a chat with me.

It is hard to know that he is gone, but it is certain that he left something of himself behind.

Rev. Blaine Hammond, '79
Vancouver, Wash.

Letters to the editor are encouraged. Brief letters are more likely to be published; longer letters may be edited due to lack of space. Please address all correspondence to: Editor, Columns Magazine, 1415 N.E. 45th Street, Seattle, WA 98105. You may send e-mail to columns@u.washington.edu or send a fax to (206) 685-0611.

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