Letters to the Editor

Recognizing Bravery

Reading the latest edition of Holy Cross Magazine about the events of Dec. 12, 1969, brought several thoughts to mind. The first was the obvious bravery of Ted Wells, my classmate Art Martin, and the other student leaders, as they put the bigger issue before their own separate well-being. The next was how the opposite views of Fathers Swords and Brooks evolved into one opinion that led to resolution. Fr. Brooks likely risked as much as the students by standing up and speaking out. My own regret is that in December 1969 I was more concerned with applying to law school and avoiding Vietnam than I was with the plight of my fellow students. After reading the excerpt from Diane Brady's Fraternity, I was embarrassed at my own inability to recognize the racism in the midst of our Christian community. I consider Brooks, Martin, Wells and all the other students who voted with their feet as real heroes for taking their stand and challenging the racist nature of the administration, the local press and many of us students. I hope that the students who walked away have forgiven us for not walking away with them. Most of all, I am glad that they all came back.

              Bernard Monbouquette '70

              Omaha, Neb.

 

Seeking Justice

Reading the "Special Report: Fraternity and Diversity" brought a mix of feelings and a question. I felt pride and delight recalling the courageous resistance of black students and in Fr. Brooks' wise compassion in the pursuit of justice. The commitment to diversity and multicultural competence expressed by administrators is encouraging when open hostility against diversity is too widespread.

As the story of the "Walkout" explains, a disproportionate number of African American students were singled out for punishment because they were "highly identifiable." A maddening irony interrupts when the highly identifiable "elephant" goes unnamed in Diversity: Where We Stand Now. If, as the mission of the College states, we are "to seek justice within and beyond the Holy Cross community," when will Holy Cross explore how good white people remain complicit in racial inequities that not only endure but are widening in health, housing, income, wealth, education and criminal justice? Naming and interrogating this reality goes to the heart of the mission of the College and would pay a fitting tribute to the 1969 witness of the Black Student Union and Fr. Brooks.

              Alex Mikulich '84

              New Orleans

 

The ROTC Perspective

In the Fall issue, our excerpt of Chapter Nine: "The Walkout," from Diane Brady's new book, Fraternity, describes the emotions and events that stemmed from the Black Student Union's walkout following punishments meted out after a 1969 GE recruitment incident. The chapter begins with general statements about protests and tensions of the Vietnam era on campuses across the nation. There, Brady's description of most Holy Cross demonstrations as passing "without incident" stirred alumni to respond with their own assessment of that turbulent time:

As members of the 1970 NROTC and AFROTC class who chose to go into the Marines upon graduation we couldn't disagree more with Ms. Brady, and any objective analysis of what occurred on campus that year will clearly show that the organization which was most discriminated against was the ROTC and some of the students involved therein.

Once the Administration barred the Marines from recruiting on campus, the Semper Fidelis Society set up a table in the Hogan lobby and referred any interested student to the Marine recruiters who established an interim office at the Holiday Inn. The Administration could bar the recruiters, but they couldn't stop the Society, as we were a recognized student organization. This did not sit well with the SDS, so they marched on Hogan, overturned our table and threw ammonia on our recruiting literature. According to the November 21, 1969 edition of The Crusader, "a container ... filled with ammonia, was broken near the Semper Fidelis table, and its contents spilled to the floor." This is not how we recall the incident. We knew the people involved and lodged a complaint with the President's office, yet he refused to take action. In The Crusader, the head of the SDS acknowledged the dispersal of the ammonia but said, "...the ammonia incident was an accident," and that it had been brought along to hinder any recruiters on campus, but was not intended to be used against students. This stretches incredulity to its maximum.

Additional anti-ROTC incidents transpired that year, including the SDS attempt to burn down the AFROTC building and other acts of violence that were dismissed by the Administration as pranks. For the first time in the school's ROTC history, future ensigns and lieutenants were not commissioned at graduation; moreover, they weren't even allowed to wear their uniforms at commencement, but were forced by the Administration to wear gowns over the uniform. Yet throughout these incidents, the ROTC students maintained a stand of non-violence, and followed the rules set forth by the College for reporting acts of violence and discrimination levied against them.

In his dissent of the 2003 affirmative action case of Grutter v. Bollinger, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas '71, referring to a speech Frederick Douglass delivered to abolitionists decades earlier, stated, "Like Douglass, I believe blacks can achieve in every avenue of American life without the meddling of university administrators." During the 1969-70 academic year, the College administration meddled but refused to address the bias where it so palpably existed, and it is a stain on the College's history that has yet to be redressed.

              Jim Leonard '70 (Battalion Commander, NROTC), Peachtree City, Ga.   

              Pat Glynn '70 (Commander, AFROTC), Philadelphia                           

              Paul Atanasio '70 (NROTC and President, Semper Fidelis Society), Breezy Point, N.Y.

Author Diane Brady responds: "ROTC members faced numerous challenges in 1969, including protests that made recruitment a near-impossible task. But my research indicates most of these demonstrations were essentially peaceful. The BSU walkout was a reaction to black protesters being disproportionately punished. Other groups may have experienced bias, too."

 

Curran Fan

I was happy to see that a leadership award has been established to honor Bob Curran '48 ("Honoring Leadership," Page 45, Fall 2011 issue). Bob was a great motivator. He was coach of the freshman basketball team in '65 when we played Boston College at Worcester Auditorium. A sell-out crowd turned out to see what was regarded as the best recruiting class in basketball history. New BC coach Bob Cousy '50 had landed four high school All-Americans, among them Jimmy Kissane, a six-foot nine-inch scorer from Chaminade on Long Island. Miraculously, we were up by six or eight points at halftime. In the locker room, we were all pretty pleased with ourselves. Coach Curran wasn't. He turned to me: "Akstens, you might want to try playing some basketball in the second half-instead of standing around out there while Kissane reads you his press clippings." No player of Bob Curran's ever rested on his laurels. I loved that guy.

              Tom Akstens '68

              Bakers Mills, N.Y.

 

Rugby's Start

The article on Holy Cross rugby in the Fall 2011 issue omits mention of Jim Sheridan '63. With a couple of well-used rugby footballs and a love of the game, he organized the first club, obtained the services of an Englishman to coach and taught the importance of rugby's "third period." Thus started the program now 50 years old.

              Rick Varco '63

              St. Paul, Minn.

Editor's Note: Thank you for that additional information, Mr. Varco. Since the rugby story appeared, we've heard from several alumni readers who have been able to fill in some of the blanks uncovered in Mark Sullivan's piece. Another reader informed us that No. 45, the player reaching for the ball on Page 44, is Tim Grossnickle '68. And when cardiologist Bob Gatewood, M.D., '70 saw Tom Cadigan '02 from Alumni Relations at a reception in Buffalo recently, he revealed that he is the quick-moving player in the small color photo on Page 42.

 

Remembering Prof. Murphy

I just saw the news of Religious Studies Professor Frederick J. Murphy's passing, and wanted to send a note in his memory. I took two courses with Professor Murphy during my time at Holy Cross. He played such an important role in shaping my critical thinking and writing skills, and I treasure the memories of being in his classroom and participating in lively, challenging and engaging discussions. He made me a better student, and that continues to impact my life every day, now five years out from Holy Cross.

              Katie Stuart '06

              Somerville, Mass.

 

Editor's Note: Other students of Professor Murphy, including Christina Koutoudis '08 and Caitlin LoCascio-King '06, sent us essays in honor of their beloved mentor and teacher. Koutoudis writes, "I went to the Holy Cross homecoming after his funeral. I stopped by his office for the first time in three years since graduating, and for the first time saw his door closed. I wish more than anything that I had just one last chat with him." To read the entire tribute, visit this issue's Web Exclusives. A full obituary for Professor Murphy appears on Page 67 of the Winter issue.

 

A Dear Classmate

On behalf of the Class of 1948, I am submitting a post script to an obituary of Vincent Zuaro '48 that appeared in the Fall edition of Holy Cross Magazine. May he rest in peace.

Vincent had an extraordinary career after he graduated from Holy Cross in 1948. It had to do mainly with his contributions to the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team. One of Al Smith's favorite expressions was "Let us look at the record," and Vincent's record was impressive: A noted and admired official, he referreed five Olympic Games, 34 World Championships and six Pan-American Championships in addition to 30 years of national and collegiate tournaments. In 2010, he became the first American referee to be inducted in The International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) Hall of Fame, an award Vincent accepted with great emotion, declaring: "The induction is like the 'PhD of wrestling.' There is no way to go higher." (Of course, Dr. Vincent Zuaro had also earned a  a PhD in philosophy from New York University in 1973.)

In 1984, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame honored our classmate as a distinguished member. In a recent tribute to Vince, the executive director of that group, John Smith, wrote, "Because of Vince Zuaro, America knows the rules. Through half a century of Olympic endeavor, USA wrestlers were handicapped by unfamiliarity with the international styles, the techniques, the rules and their interpretations. ... Today, America's officials, coaches and athletes, know the international rules better than some of the people who wrote them, largely because of the U. S. Wrestling Officials Association founded by Zuaro in 1970 and the USA Wrestling rule book which he authored for 20 years."

In my humble opinion, the recorded achievements of Vincent Zuaro place him in the pantheon of sports heroes on a world-wide basis. The effect that he had on his sport is startling.

Thomas Costello '48

Bronx, N.Y.

 

Errata

In the Fall issue, an incorrect photo accompanied the obituary of Associate Professor of English John D. Boyd (1941-2011) that appeared on Page 66. The photo of the smiling, bearded man with a pipe is actually that of Carter Lindberg, a contemporary of Professor Boyd, who taught in the theology department at Holy Cross and, who is now professor emeritus of Boston University's School of Theology. Lindberg is the author of several books, including The European Reformations (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009).

The late Professor Boyd taught English at Holy Cross from 1974 to 1992 and then moved to Athens, Ga., where he joined the faculty at the University of Georgia. Professor Boyd, whose scholarly work focused on the British Victorians, was also a serious music lover. An accomplished pianist, he enjoyed performing in choral groups, including the Worcester Chorus, from 1975 to 1992, and the Athens Master Chorale, from 1992 to 2007. Professor Boyd is survived by his wife, Anne; and a son.

Holy Cross Magazine apologizes for this error, which was due to a photo labeling mistake that occurred at the time the photos were taken.

Also in the Fall 2011 issue, the photographs of new Holy Cross Alumni Association President Brian O'Connell '71 on Page 54 and Rev. Philip Rule, S.J., on Page 55 should have been credited to John Buckingham.