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Alumni Letters

Comments from our readers.

Homeschooling as a First Choice

Tracy Staedter’s article “At Home with School” (MIT News, February 2005) neglected to include any input from those MIT alumni who proactively and enthusiastically choose to homeschool our children. Homeschooling does not have to be a reactive “possible option if traditional school is failing” but instead can be a conscious choice made by parents who feel it provides the best learning and living environment for their children. We made the decision to homeschool when I was pregnant, not as a reaction to any experience our children had. To name just a few of the bene­fits of our lifestyle, our family has the daily freedoms of shepherding moral development; (re)visiting topics at the appropriate developmental stage; and providing rich, guided, and varied social opportunities. It may be useful for parents to consider how homeschooling can be part of a positive, overall lifestyle plan for the entire family and not just a second-tier alternative to schooling for their children.

Debbie Kulik Webster ’90
Newry, ME

Remembering Rush

We were skimming Technology Review last night and just about fell over when we saw a picture of us at Freshman Clearinghouse in 1971 or 1972 (“Saving the System,” MIT News, February 2005).

We have no memory of the picture being taken and have no idea how your editorial people came across it. Since there’s no caption, we assume the photo editor has no idea who the people are or what they were doing at the time. We wonder if the editor has any idea the picture is over 30 years old.

While we can’t be sure, we think the picture is from September 1971, but it’s possible it’s September 1972. We think it’s 1971 because Clearinghouse 1972 was only a week or so before we got married, and in the picture we don’t look like we did at the wedding.

Since the Technology Review issue came out, there’s been a lot of lively conversation about the picture among our group of close MIT friends from the Class of 1973 and nearby years. It’s been a great excuse to reminisce.

For those who are unfamiliar with Freshman Clearinghouse, its purpose was to keep track of the whereabouts of incoming freshmen during Rush Week. We assigned each freshman a temporary dorm room for the week; it was a place to park their bags, and they were encouraged to look at all the fraternities and the dormitories. If a freshman wanted to stay at a fraternity, the fraternity had to notify us. As freshmen pledged to fraternities, we kept track of the pledges. As the week progressed, we collected permanent dorm requests from the freshmen and tallied them. At the end, we handed out permanent dormitory assignments to the freshmen who had not pledged.

We didn’t make any of the decisions, such as who got assigned to which dorms, but we kept track of it all. It was a very hectic week, but it was some of the most fun we had at MIT. Jean was the chairperson and manager of Clearinghouse in 1971 and 1972, after working there in 1970. Irv worked there in both 1971 and 1972.

Irv Paskowitz ’73 and
Jean Brenfleck Paskowitz ’73
Rockville, MD

Survey Falls Short

“Through the Looking Glass” (“Letter from the President,” MIT News, December 2004) provides some interesting insights but stops short of achieving its goal. I am ill at ease making inferences about the 102,245 living alumni for whom the Alumni Association has records based on a biased sample, even if it is a sample of 1,798. A response rate of 40 percent may be higher than the commercial polling firm employed has experienced in its work with other colleges, but it is not high enough. I am under the impression that response rates obtained by academic survey research centers are usually double that before being considered even marginally acceptable. While knowing what respondents think is good about MIT is important, knowing what the nonrespondents (a much larger group) think is good, and what they think is not good, is even more important.

David Nasatir ’55
Berkeley, CA


In the caption for the photograph on page 16 in the story “At Home with School” (MIT News, February 2005), we mistakenly identified Orion Anderson as the daughter of Christina and Eric Anderson ’79, SM ’84. Orion is in fact their son.

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