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Amherst College > News & Events > Amherst Magazine > Archives > Winter 2002 > Letters


A courageous path
I have just read the Fall 2001 issue of Amherst, and I want to tell you how moved I was to read the article about Amy Machamer '84 ["Fast Track on the Family Farm"]. I am delighted that you have chosen to feature an alumna who is pursuing a career and lifestyle so different from what I assume to be that of the typical Amherst graduate, myself included. Your article highlights the astounding breadth of intellectual and physical skills required to be a farmer, and draws a sharp contrast with the prevailing attitude of most academics as typified in the contemptuous quote from the unnamed Dean. Having been raised on a dairy farm in Vermont, I know something about the qualities of farmers. Stamina and physical strength are just the beginning. Farming also requires creative intelligence, organizational and management skills, mechanical intuition, and some ineffable quality of heart that perhaps one only absorbs by breathing the odor of earth. I admire these qualities in Amy, and I respect her courage in choosing a path that I myself found too hard, too demanding, too dirty. Now I can be grateful that I lived on a farm as a kid, for that experience has sustained and balanced me in the academic and urban environments I have lived in. But I did not have the strength to choose the path that Amy has chosen. I honor her choice, and I thank you for bringing her into my life.

Crayton Bedford '56
Oakland, Calif.

Student finds classes alive
As a member of the Amherst community, I was disturbed by Suzanne Feigelson's article, "The Silent Classroom" [Fall 2001] in which she writes, "There is a phenomenon at Amherst that students stop talking in class about midway through freshman year. At least, talking decreases dramatically." As a junior reading Feigelson's article, I felt as though I attended a different school. While a large lecture course will certainly limit the amount of discussion, I have found smaller, upper-level courses to do the opposite. "The Silent Classroom" fails to mention such courses. In addition, Feigelson's words wrongly accuse Amherst students of being diffident and intellectually tired. Professor of English John Cameron is said to argue that students who refrain from talking in class do so because they care more about learning well than about making a good impression on their teacher. Cameron's notion of "learning well" ignores the dynamism of Amherst's classrooms, which continue to be alive with dialogue and the thoughtful exchange of ideas.

Jesse Freedman '03
Pawtucket, R.I.

Madness This
The Archives and Special Collections in the College Library is looking for four copies each of the following issues of the undergraduate journal, Madness This, which are missing from the archival holdings. They are Volume 1, No. 5 (Fall 1992) and Volume 7, No. 2 (Spring 1995). If anyone has a copy or copies of either issue that they are willing to give to the Library for permanent preservation, please send them to:

Daria D'Arienzo
Head of Archives and Special Collections
Amherst College Library
P.O. Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002-5000

Thank you.
Daria D'Arienzo

We apologize for two errors in our story about Brock Safronoff '97 ["Amherst Victims of September 11," Fall 2001]. Safronoff was not a master's degree candidate at Columbia University. And he and Tara Neelakantappa '97 were married on August 4, 2001.

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