The Ohio State University Alumni Association

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We welcome your letters, which we ask be limited to 250 words or less. Please send them to Letters selected for publication typically address topics raised in Ohio State Alumni Magazine, although the editor reserves the right to make exceptions. All published letters appear online, and a selection appears in our print edition. We edit letters for space, clarity, accuracy and civility. When readers’ published views prompt others to write, the latter submissions are the last published on a particular topic. All letters represent the opinions of the letter writers, not those of the magazine team, alumni association or university.

We must face the facts of racism in America

After reading two letters in the winter issue — stating “In the 1950s and 1960s, we ended Jim Crow and segregation” and “No, the United States of America is not a systemically racist country. Parts of the country once were, but we fought a war to resolve that and we amended our great Constitution to ensure it would not return” — I must vigorously object on the basis of the facts.

To be clear, systemic racism involves cultural and institutional systems and structures with procedures or processes that disadvantage people on the basis of race. In the United States, those most widely affected are African Americans.

In 1966, I was hired as a teacher/coach at Columbus City Schools’ Monroe Junior High, where I worked until 1981. It was among several schools at all levels of the system that were segregated.

Segregation of Columbus schools was a result of systemic racism — period. As Ohio History Central notes, “Circuit Court Judge Robert Duncan ruled in Penick v. Columbus Board of Education that schools in Columbus, Ohio, were segregated and that the Columbus Board of Education knowingly kept white and African American students apart … by creating school boundaries. ... Duncan cited evidence that this policy had existed since at least 1909. The judge made his ruling on March 8, 1977.” Immediately thereafter, “white flight” to the suburbs began. Fact.

Lest we forget, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was a landmark 1954 Supreme Court case in which the justices unanimously ruled that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Columbus schools were ordered to be desegregated 23 years later, not desegregated voluntarily in compliance with the law. That’s a fact. I “lived segregation” for my first 11 years at Monroe Junior High and witnessed first-hand its negative impact on the education of all students.

Data today clearly shows continuing inequities in education, housing, employment, wealth and representation in leadership positions. Facts. Yes, things are certainly better since the Civil War and passage of civil rights legislation, but there’s still much to do. To deny that is to deny the facts.

Robert W. Marsh ’72 MA
Sun City, Arizona

Education and logic lead this reader to a different conclusion

I am extremely grateful to Ohio State, where I majored in philosophy, for giving me the ability to think intellectually. There, the demand is that opinions do not ignore contrary evidence, debate considers all relevant facts and views, and conclusions conform to logic.

That is not the case with two winter issue letters that prompted this one. Facts run contrary to the assertion that “white men, Christians, conservatives, Republicans and others … can be discriminated against without fear of retaliation” when government power at all levels rests prominently in the hands of members of those very groups. Similarly, the management of large corporations and practitioners of upper-income professions are predominantly members of those same privileged classes. In our uniquely American pursuit of a more perfect union, our primary focus must remain firmly fixed on those who are denied equity and justice in public and private life. Any factual reading of current demographics indicates that substantial disparities in representation, treatment and rights are ubiquitous, and it is right to call them systemic, entrenched in the very structure of society.

Jim Crow is still in limited practice, as evidenced by widespread attempts to suppress minority vote, by requiring voter ID and by limiting voter locations, among other raced-based strategies.

There is no evidence-based reason to believe Ohio State has view-suppressing policies or practices or that students are indoctrinated in any way. In an open and free society, higher education diminishes polarization, since the classroom requires acquiring the skills of conflict-free communication and debate. To the extent that individual attitudes lead to institutionalized paralysis, I would offer a page from my education at Ohio State: Avoid labeling and demonizing those with whom you disagree. History has shown that the most productive road to progress lies in joining the process of respectful listening and responding to competing opinions.

Richard P. Wirth ’75
Bryson City, North Carolina

Recent magazine evokes a range of memories

The winter issue brought back both happy and sad memories.

The picture of the Rose Bowl Special reminded me of my 1958 trip to the Rose Bowl on the “Brown Train.” It took the northern route via Salt Lake City, San Francisco and on to Los Angeles. The Buckeyes won a hard-fought victory over Oregon 10–7. On the way home, we stopped at a snow-covered Grand Canyon.

The craziest place I’ve run into a Buckeye? About five years ago at a nice lodge in the back woods of Alaska, I saw a gentleman in an Ohio State sweatshirt at breakfast. I asked him if he was a graduate. He was. I introduced myself, and he looked at me and said my name twice before he mentioned his name and reminded me he was one of my Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) fraternity brothers. I hadn’t seen him since I graduated Dec. 16, 1960. That happy day turned to sadness when I learned my fraternity roommate of several years, another TKE and four other Buckeyes perished in a collision of two airliners over New York City.

I am very proud to have earned my degree and be an alumnus of Ohio State.

Joe Lovering ’60
Williston, Vermont

Buckeye football long has been a community affair

While reading the winter issue, I came upon a photo of the Ohio Staters Rose Bowl “Gray Train.” I was a member of the 1954 football team who hailed from Martins Ferry, Ohio.

The people from Martins Ferry have always been very sports-conscious and supportive. They sent my mom and dad, Rose and Steve Vargo, by train to the Rose Bowl game played Jan. 1, 1955. My parents were well “looked after” by band members in true Ohio State fashion.

Thanks for the fond memories. Your article brought tears to my eyes.

Ken Vargo ’57
Team co-captain, 1955
Nepean, Ontario, Canada

A helpful reminder to wear those bike helmets

The picture of a cyclist on page 6 of the winter 2020 edition clearly shows the rider not wearing a helmet. The article is about winter wellness, and I strongly feel it is extremely dangerous to bike in slippery winter conditions with only a soft head covering.

I’ve demonstrated to youngsters what would happen if you held a watermelon head high and dropped it on a hard surface. The same cracking would happen to your skull and destroy your brain. Last I heard, you need a functioning brain to stay well.

Martin Alpert ’65
Heathrow, Florida

Victories for Columbus

The words of Dr. Pete Edwards ’83, ’84 MS, ’88 MD came to mind as I watched the professional soccer team he co-owns, Columbus Crew SC, win the 2020 MLS Cup in December, only three years after nearly moving from Ohio’s capital city: “Everything you do is built on relationships.”

Edwards shared those words when I interviewed him for Ohio State Alumni Magazine in 2019. They rang true the night of the Crew’s championship victory — because relationships are at the core of why the club overcame long odds and remained in Columbus rather than move to Austin, Texas.

News about the Crew’s possible relocation leaked in fall 2017, prompting fans to gather at an emotional rally that Edwards attended. There, his bond with those supporters — built through his 23 years as the team’s doctor — stirred his soul. He felt a need to do something to help those hurting fans and his hometown of Columbus. His feeling strengthened as the organic “Save the Crew” movement gained momentum in ensuing months.

Edwards and his extended family — including his parents, father Peter Edwards Sr. ’55 and mother Suzanne Edwards ’59 — offered to buy the Crew, and eventually did so in December 2018 in partnership with the Haslam family. The Crew had been saved for Columbus, by Columbus, with Buckeyes doing what Buckeyes do: stepping forward to help others.

Empathy can trigger action, and individual acts can gain unexpected force through a collective spirit if focused on a goal. Sports teams prove this when winning a championship, as the Crew did. And when the club won the MLS Cup, it was a reminder that Edwards’ belief about us being better if we work together is more than a cliché. The collective good is real, he told me in 2019. Indeed. It’s all about relationships. — Todd Jones, Ohio State Alumni Magazine senior writer

Shout-outs to savvy robots, Ohio Staters Inc., Dr. Acton and koselig

Readers of Ohio State Alumni Magazine online shared these comments on stories in the winter issue.

I loved reading about the innovations in medicine [in this story (Know when to Fold Them) about the potential for wireless soft robots that make use of Japanese origami principles to accomplish less invasive surgeries]. To be able to use origami in such a technical way to help people is fantastic. I can’t wait to hear the next steps in this treatment.

Ricki Soloman Rubin ’75
Lakewood Ranch, Florida

Using amazing technology to enhance the delivery of medical treatments is an amazing idea. Thank you for sharing this important idea using origami.

Evelyn Bell ’67

This is obviously a new, emerging technology and adaptation of science to solving real-world problems. I look forward to seeing more on this line of research and development.

Kurt Sauer ’75
Warren, Ohio

Very interesting story. From my area of work [with Ohio State’s Urban Arts Space], I appreciate the connections of art and craft with science and medicine. It really makes me appreciate working for the university.

Chris Gose ’99 MFA
Worthington, Ohio

As a former Ohio Stater, this story (Spirit of the Age) brings back wonderful memories of selling seat cushions from the booth north of the stadium. I take great pride in having earned my spot inside the booth on the mic shouting out, “Be sweet to your seat. Be kind to your behind!” Those sales made possible so many incredible projects that are embedded in Ohio State history.

Marcella Omo ’99
Ypsilanti, Michigan

What a wonderful story about a top-notch organization. Ohio Staters Inc. has done so many good things in and around Ohio State over the years. Thinkers, doers and believers! Thanks for spotlighting them.

Jim Monast ’81, ’85 JD

It was a great — and fun — walk down memory lane to read about Ohio Staters Inc. What a refreshing lift during this unusual time of the pandemic,

Pat Daniels
Norway, Maine

My response to this Ohio Staters article is “thanks for the memories.” The story was well written, the pictures were great and you made all of us Buckeye Proud. Great job!

Thomas Wiktorowski ’68

Love the photos of the past in this Ohio Staters story. Makes me think warmly of my time on campus and the opportunities that my Ohio State education gave me.

Bob Duplain ’69
Dayton, Ohio

Service has always been an important part of Ohio State. I loved the Ohio Staters’ Rally Wagon. You didn’t have to find your phone or push any buttons. The info you needed came flying through the air via loud speaker just as you crossed the Oval.

Cindy Schmidt Wentz ’62
Dublin, Ohio

Dr. Amy Acton [featured in this winter issue Q&A (There’s a Remedy in Kindness)] was and is so relatable to me — on so many levels. I admire her strength, her wisdom, her professionalism and her kindness. This article captured it all without being sappy!

Marcia Loos Storm ’80
Fort Thomas, Kentucky

Dr. Amy Acton’s philosophy is a basic fundamental fact of healthy human relationships, also referred to as the Golden Rule in the Bible: Treat others the way you want to be treated. Kindness is a beginning step of choosing to consider someone else’s needs as more important than our own, whereas bullying is pure addictive, self-centeredness or selfishness.

Dr. Acton’s science basis recognizes that human fear and pain — which can manifest as hatred — blind our understanding. If uncontrolled, they explode into bullying, rage and violence. Rage denied replicates the same and cannot accomplish healthy relationships or community. As healthy human beings, we never have a valid excuse not to be kind to one another even when we hurt. Dr. Acton’s analysis and core direction is this: Kindness is more caught than taught; it is contagious.

Howard Downing ’71
Plain City, Ohio

Dr. Amy Acton has a unique ability to be in the center of something, yet able to step away to view her thinking with perspective. I think that’s one of the great things about an Ohio State education. Students go to class to learn facts and techniques, but there are also many opportunities to analyze and build perspective. That makes for better graduates, and Amy is an awesome example of that!

Judy Herron ’66, ’68 MA
Salem, Ohio

I found the words of Dr. Amy Acton insightful and inspiring. In some ways, such a simple concept — kindness — yet in other ways quite complex and deep. It helps one recenter and consider the little and big ways we can help others.

Carol Hasbrouck ’80 MA

I lived in Norway as an exchange student in high school. I think this article (Discover Winter Wellness the Nordic Way) captures koselig very accurately. Thirty-five years after my year in Norway, I am still following the koselig practices I learned from my dear Norwegian family.

Jenny Conway Shrodes ’93, ’01
Upper Arlington, Ohio

I’ve been an Ohio resident all 30 years now, and it’s impossible to get rid of the cold and snow, especially in northeastern Ohio along the snowbelt. Having these types of mindsets are necessary to continue to have a positive outlook.

John Namey ’14
Jefferson, Ohio

I have been reading about hygge for a few years now, and I love the idea. I try to implement some of the practices in my own life, and I find that it brings me a real sense of peace, especially now that we are all staying indoors more due to the pandemic. I would love to see more articles about this topic!

Traci Jones ’07

As an 80-year-old widower, I thought the story was great. It reminded me of growing up in western Ohio where we spent a lot of winter time outside with family and friends. When my children were young I spent a lot of time outside with them. I have these wonderful memories.

Urban Oen ’63, ’66 MS
West Chicago, Illinois

I lived for 20 years in Minnesota and learned to appreciate the advantages of snow and cold that stay around for long stretches of time. This article underscored how the Scandinavians live and make the most of the winter. It was wonderful, and I miss it here in Ohio.

Pam Thompson Ferguson ’72
Westerville, Ohio

Having learned I’m part Scandinavian, I found it engaging to learn more about my heritage. I’ve always loved the idea of “cozy,” sweets and time with family and friends. I’m adopted and didn’t know where some of that came from; nice to have it confirmed.

Susan Long
Alumni association staff