As a new member of Phi Beta Kappa, I am greatly vexed by Judd Greenstein’s ’01 assertions. I agree that “the juxtaposition of President Schapiro’s address with this display of excellence in achieving high grades” seemed hypocritical in nature at Convocation (President Schapiro should have realized the gravity of his ambivalent statements but, hey, I wasn’t exactly beaming with joy when I was “singled out” only to have my name said wrong). In fact, I was surprised Convocation wasn’t more of an encouragement to all students. And I concur that when Isaac Stern came to campus last year, the event should have been opened to all Williams students.
My beef lies elsewhere.
Judd, you may “mean no disrespect” but it is nevertheless taken. I am offended because you have reduced me (Erin Palazzolo) and some of your other fellow classmates (who also have names) to an unindividuated mass “stuck on the obvious paths,” striving for academic excellence for the wrong reasons – in other words, “sellouts.” Who is to say that one priority takes precedence over another? Who is to say the singular goal of my Williams education was to achieve high academic success? There are things I have learned in climbing the wall in the Towne Field House on a late weekday night as well as in stretching a canvas in the art studio. Revelations imparted under Florentine skies, gelato in hand and hands folded in prayer. Truths in Emerson’s essays as well.
You may be grappling with your own ambivalence toward academics (maybe I am too). You may have written this article precisely to incite debate and solicit criticism (Would we just sit back and quietly watch you reduce us to narrow-minded motive?) Who am I to say what your reasons were?
Worth noting, however, is the Record’s blatant omission of the names and majors of the senior Williams students inducted into Phi Beta Kappa this year. In previous years, lists have been printed and this year’s includes some fascinating academic juxtapositions among the divisions I think. The Record just cut out “26 in 2000.”
I propose you reconsider.
Erin Palazzolo ’01