Lack of Giving
There was a topic that was missing from President Spar’s column (“Why College Costs So Much,” Fall 2012) explaining the reasons college is so expensive: Alumnae giving. I see from the “Class Notes” section that Barnard has made no progress since I graduated (1971) in teaching its students the necessity of their financial support after graduation. I judge this not by the dollar amounts given, but by percentage of the class which gives any amount at all.

When my daughter graduated from Scripps in 2011, there was a “competition” between the five undergraduate colleges of the Claremont Consortium to have the highest participation in senior giving. The suggested gift for each senior was $20.11, in honor of her graduation year. Scripps achieved 100%. Since her graduation, I have reminded my daughter of her need to give back every single year, to the extent she can afford— especially since she herself was the recipient of financial aid. Although she is in graduate school now and on a restricted budget, an annual gift of $20 represents approximately four visits to Starbucks, and consequently should not be seen as a tremendous sacrifice. Although I have not done the math, empirically the average percent of class giving for those who have graduated in the last 20 years seems to be in the mid-to-high teens. Barnard must change the culture to, yes, indoctrinate students in their obligation to provide annual gifts, each year, every year, even if only a $10 or $20 gift from those pursuing professional schooling or advanced degrees. The habit must become ingrained. The excuse that was used in my years, that a couple was more likely to give to his school than to hers, should not be accepted in 2012. If every alumna who valued her Barnard education gave an annual gift, I’m sure class participation would be significantly above 50%.

—Basha Yonis ’71 (Beverly Johnson) via e-mail

Thank you so much for the excellent fall issue. I enjoyed reading the entire magazine with all of the outstanding articles. The photographs from students abroad are stunning. I do have to make a comment regarding Carol Chrystie’s letter to the editor. I think she is astute in her observation that men sometimes cut in the line over women, however I must disagree with her “hang your head in shame Barnard” statement, as I also truly enjoyed the issue regarding President Obama’s Commencement address. As the editors’ note says, Jill Abramson graciously agreed to speak at a later date, and she will be outstanding when she does. Women tend to be more patient than men, and I believe that this patience will lead to the election of the first woman president, which I hope I get to see in my lifetime.

—Yolanda Irizarry Giraldo ’73 via e-mail

Language Connection
I found the profile of the student learning Marathi particularly delightful (“A Small World After All,” Fall 2012), as I am a second generation Maharashtrian-American. I grew up speaking Marathi in the home (my parents are from Mumbai), though I must admit it is getting rusty the older I get. I found it wonderful that your student is devoting her academic studies to such an interesting topic. There is a fairly large Maharashtrian community in the NY/NJ area so if your student ever needs any resources, feel free to let me know and I would be happy to make some connections/brainstorm with her.

—Shuma Panse ’98 via e-mail

Barnard On Wall Street
While I enjoy reading about the achievements of women in the arts, science, and social policy, I was very excited to see the teaser on the front of the Barnard Magazine: “Those First Women on Wall Street” (Fall 2012). I was disappointed, however, that the article only focused on the past and there was not a single comment about Barnard women on Wall Street. We need to recognize members of our community who have been successful in business including Wall Street. To exclude these women is to limit the true portrait of how women impact the world.

—Karen Wells '89 via e-mail

Music and Evil
I have just read Merri Rosenberg’s article “Music’s Life Lessons” (Fall 2012) and wonder what Caroline Stoessinger learnt about life having written about Alice Herz-Sommer. Ms. Stoessinger must have noticed that Herz-Sommer had a horrific life in Theresienstadt and for years thereafter. How can she possibly believe that “the truth is that  people who pursue beauty don’t carry hate or vengeance in their hearts”? Herz-Sommer was in Theresienstadt, for goodness sake, where Nazis forced Jews and others to play music for their own cruel pleasure. And we all know that the Nazis carried no hate or vengeance in their hearts!

—Gita Segal Rotenberg ’61 Toronto, Ontario  via e-mail