Issue Contents :: Letters :: Page [ 1 2 3 ]


Defending Alternative Medical Treatments

I was very surprised to see Matthew Fields ’84 letter in the Summer issue claiming that modern cancer treatments have been “tested and found effective.” As a veteran public interest health researcher thoroughly familiar with an entire century of mortality statistics, I can testify that the evidence, to the degree that there is any, is to the contrary. Medical treatment and diagnostic procedures in general are frequently more likely to cause cancer—this is why cancer mortality in white children is consistently higher than in non-white children whose parents are often too poor to afford medical treatment. The rationale for radiation therapy—that cancer cells are more susceptible to radiation than healthy cells—ignores the likelihood that that same radiation is turning healthy cells into cancer cells, and chemotherapy—essentially dosing the entire body with a chemical toxin—is likely to promote generalized organ failure in all organs. When the endocrine glands are involved, this will mean additional emotional pathologies as well, including suicidal depression (pituitary), mood swings (thyroid), nausea/malaise (thymus), anorexia/pathological gluttony (pancreas), chronic foreboding/panic attacks (adrenals), and pathological sexual desire and/or lack of sexual desire (ovaries and testicles). The link between chemotherapy and suicidal depression raises serious ethical issues when a patient requesting physician-assisted suicide is a cancer treatment victim, as is frequently the case.

Hats off to Sally Schaefer Miller ’61, who had the courage to write about the dangers of “modern” cancer treatment.

Peter Hays ’73
Eugene, Ore.

I wish to respond to Jim Cooper’s letter (Summer 2004) in which he scoffed at the notion of acupuncture as a treatment for HIV. He advised OAM to “take a more skeptical tone in reporting these controversial ideas, most of which have not survived rigorous analysis.” I would in turn advise him to keep an open mind and do a little research. As stated in the offending article (, acupuncture is a science that has survived several thousand years of “rigorous analysis” as a pillar of traditional Chinese medicine. Many hospitals in China use both eastern and western medicine to treat patients. Their experience, along with numerous studies, has confirmed the value of acupuncture many times over.

Furthermore, if Mr. Cooper wishes to deride controversial ideas that have not survived rigorous analysis, he need look no further than the cutting edge of standard allopathic medicine. Many of the drugs, therapies, and treatments prescribed by MDs today are poorly understood and most certainly have not withstood the tests of time or science. I applaud Richard Mandell ’75 for his work on behalf of AIDS patients in Africa, and I hope OAM will continue to bring us news about alumni working in fields of "alternative" medicine.

Casey Martinson ’99
Westfield, N.Y.

Co-Ed Housing

Although grateful to my undergraduate alma mater for many things, I also am troubled by many Oberlin stances. Recently I was saddened to read on page 10 of the Summer issue that Oberlin has decided to begin offering mixed-gender rooms. According to Associate Dean and Director of Residential Life and Services Kim Lafond, “The move is not to encourage romantic cohabitation.” I disagree strongly, wondering if just that temptation does not far overshadow his opinion that “we want to foster friendships and healthy relationships. Boundaries such as single-sex rooms limit the opportunity for a student to reside with someone who they feel comfortable living with and sharing space.”

As a Christian who prays the Lord’s Prayer every day, I find its sixth and seventh petitions especially apt here. In addition, it seems to me from my perspective as a heterosexual male that at least some initial attraction to and magic of “the other” gender is related to the element of mystery, somehow very greatly diminished by such an undergraduate 24/7 living arrangement.

Before sending my response, I checked with our 15-year-old daughter, Esther, to see what she thought of this new housing option. “Dad, it’s just promoting sex,” she answered immediately. “If they are really interested in fostering friendships, why don’t they sponsor more dances or something?” I suppose that must sound quite naïve to many. However, to me it is refreshingly simple and reminds me of what our Con theory teacher, Joseph Wood, used to often say to us in class, “The simplest way is often the

Timothy Albrecht ’73
Atlanta, Ga.

Editor’s Note: A handful of alumni expressed dismay at Oberlin’s new co-ed living option. This fall, only one set of roommates has chosen the arrangement. Read an interview with them in the October 8 issue of The Oberlin Review at

Why Shun the Memorial Arch?

Letters to the editor in the Fall 2003 issue ( reminded us that many Oberlin students and alumni refuse to walk through the Memorial Arch that honors Oberlin missionary families who lost their lives in the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900. This action continues to puzzle many alumni, is apparently not supported by all students, and leads to several questions.

Is this a boycott of the role of missionaries? From what I have read about this period, missionaries in China were involved in setting up schools, operating health clinics, preaching the Christian gospel, working for rights for women, and by the example of their lifestyle offering insights into western cultures. None of these activities appears to merit condemnation. In fact, all occur on a weekly basis in Oberlin today.

Some might argue that spreading Christianity was an invasion of another culture. However, in that era, evangelism was considered an important mission for many college graduates. Oberlin, like practically ever other early liberal arts college in the Midwest, was founded with a strong Christian emphasis.

Is it a boycott of the United States government because of its policies toward China a century ago? There is no questioning that western powers (particularly Britain and France, more than the isolationist United States) forced their way into China and, in the process, introduced ideas not popular with Chinese traditionalists and, especially, autocratic rulers. But is there evidence that the Oberlin missionaries personally supported these governmental actions?

The situation is somewhat similar to that faced by the Peace Corps in the 1960s as a result of international attitudes toward the Vietnam War. At the time, I was a Peace Corps administrator in Washington and our goal was to distinguish between the role of individual volunteers overseas and the policies of our government. With few exceptions, the volunteers were judged on the basis of their personal contributions. Why, then, must the Oberlin martyrs be assigned the heavy burden of responsibility for actions taken by western governments?

Is the boycott a symbol of support for the Boxers? The Boxers weren’t exactly freedom fighters, a la Southern USA 1960s; in fact they were quite the opposite. In an era in which a number of Chinese leaders sought political and social reforms, the Boxers emerged as anti-reform and opposed to human rights, westerners, and Christian converts. They expressed their points-of-view via killings.

The point was made in a letter to the editor that one problem with the Arch is that it does not recognize others killed in the uprising—reformed-mind public officials, missionaries, Boxers, Chinese Christians, and innocent bystanders. If there is strong wish to recognize other victims of the Boxer Rebellion, an appropriate memorial could be planned. But is that any reason to turn your back on the Oberlin missionaries?

Alongside Finney Chapel is a memorial to the Oberlin men who lost their lives in World War II. I can place a face alongside the names of many who are so honored. But, like the Memorial Arch, this only honors the Oberlin dead—without reference to the many millions who also died during that conflict. Is this omission likely to spur a future boycott?

The men and women from Oberlin went to serve in China and remained there, despite growing signs of danger. They were likely among the 44 westerners killed on order from the corrupt governor of the Shansi province—who had their heads chopped off. I suspect that classmates of those who died in China contributed to the cost of the Memorial Arch, just as many of us honored our fellow students by contributing to the World War II memorial. These older alumni would be more than surprised to see how their memorial is dishonored today.

Finally, it is difficult to pass judgment today on those who graduated more than a century ago—who attended college in the aftermath of the Civil War, studied by kerosene lamps, and traveled from town to town by horse and buggy. If they were to visit Oberlin today, I suspect they might be critical of some of what passes for normal conduct today.

If there are other, and possibly stronger, reasons for dishonoring the sacrifice of these Oberlin alumni, many of us would like to hear them. But on the face of it, these unfortunate victims appear to merit our deepest respect rather than censure.

Robert Calvert, Jr. ’47
Garrett Park, Md.

Where’s the Reunion Coverage?

How Disappointing! As the spouse of a 1954 alumna I looked in vain for coverage of the very successful 50th reunion. Two pictures, no text, and no coverage of the President's excellent review of the class’ momentous four years at Oberlin. Also, no mention of '54s outstanding alumni, huge gift to the College, activities during the three days, and interviews with graduates who may have "come back" for the first time. My school had it's 50th last October, and we made it on the cover of the Alumni Bulletin, as well as in feature stories and pictures inside! Why doesn't OC '54 rate the same respect? You can still redeem yourselves by giving appropriate coverage to the 50th reunion in the next issue. If an Alumni Association ignores its 50th-year class at that significant milestone, it's ignoring its possibly biggest contributor at the ideal gifting moment! (I dare you to print this!)

Theodore Smith
Proud spouse of Mary Frances Callison Smith '54
Falls Church, VA

Editor’s Note: OAM devoted several pages—and in some years, separate inserts—to the coverage of reunion and commencement activities in the 1990s. The practice was halted when budget restrictions forced the magazine to decrease its page count and also limit the number of additional reporters needed to attend events. If however, the Alumni Association discovers a renewed interest by alumni in expanded reunion coverage, OAM will do its best to accommodate.

Another Woman of History

Lucy Stone wasn’t the only one overshadowed by Stanton and Anthony (Spring 2004). Frances Dana Gage, my great-great grandmother (1809-1884), spent her lifetime speaking and writing on behalf of abolition, women’s rights, and temperance. While she raised eight children, sending her six sons to fight for the Union, she wrote articles for Ohio publications, weaving her causes into discussions of homemaking and life on the farm. She started speaking to audiences, and for many years went on lecture tours to several states.

In 1851 she attended the second women’s rights convention in Akron and was elected president of the convention. Sojourner Truth was present at the meetings, causing many men and women to ask Gage not to ruin the convention by mixing it up with black issues. Gage granted Truth the floor for her memorable speech. “Aunt Fanny” continued her crusade for equal rights for everybody for her lifetime. Yes, she publicly disagreed with Stanton and Anthony when they insisted on concentrating only on woman suffrage.

Have you heard of Frances Dana Gage? She wrote several books, lectured for years in a time when a woman speaking in public was big news (and received rave reviews for her speeches), and traveled for months of every year. I’ve tried twice to get her nominated to the National Women’s Hall of Fame (she is listed in the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame).

Priscilla Johnson Lussmyer ’48
Greenbank, Wash.

Corrections from the last issue:
Our apologies to Perry Boyle, who was referred to as the late 10-year director of the Oberlin Business Initiatives Program. Perry is well and living in Rhode Island. Also, apologies to Jean Waugh ’44, who was incorrectly identified in a reunion photograph on page 12. “I guess all the gray-haired old alums look alike!” she writes.

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