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Letters to the Editor

Ratings justified

I am disturbed by the 164 law school deans who, in a letter to me and all law school applicants this year, claimed that "law school rankings may be hazardous to (my) health." Despite the warm-fuzziness of this egalitarian plea, I find their position perplexing.

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First of all, how is it that U.S. News and World Report's rankings (i.e. orderings) are any more "superficial and arbitrary" than law school deans' assessments of candidates such as myself? Perhaps law schools should stop ranking applicants and start admitting students by drawing names out of a hat.

Secondly, how is it that more information – however it is synthesized – can harm law school applicants? Aren't law school applicants supposed to be intelligent, thoughtful and analytic? Are we to believe that law school applicants naively accept law school rankings as unchallenged biblical truths? Oh heavens, what are we to do without the divine wisdom of law school deans and the Law School Admissions Council?

What is wrong with rankings? Constant public evaluation and critical examination – whatever the criteria – promote excellence while shunning stagnation. Rather than holding hands and preaching touchy-feely equality, responsible law school deans should embrace rankings unequivocally and concern themselves with more important matters, like considering ridiculous claims of presidential executive privilege. Colin J. Campbell '98

Sinking 'Titanic'

Sean Cunningham's column entitled "Bringing a movie behemoth back down to earth" hit it right on the iceberg! He perfectly described my and my family's feelings toward "Titanic" – the film that we wasted our money and TIME on during the Christmas holidays.

My family represents a real cross-section of the community: a 40-year-old homemaker, a 45-year-old machinist, a 19-year-old male Harvard student, an 18-year-old female Rice student and a 70-year-old grandmother. We ALL felt that "Titanic" was possibly the worst movie ever made, the exception being maybe "Waterworld."

My 70-year-old grandmother made comments like: "Why didn't that stupid old woman just give the young man the diamond instead of throwing it back into the ocean?" and "Leonardo was cute, but why did they pair a 13-year-old with such an old looking actress?" Her best comment of all was, "I know why the Titanic sunk: It was because big ol' Kate Winslet loosened all the bolts when she went running all over the ship."

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We are astonished everyday when we hear how much money this film is making. Are we the only people in the world that thought this film stunk? We can't imagine anyone going back to see it more than once. Thank you, Sean Cunningham, for letting people know the truth. Maribeth Dorr

'Titanic' defended

I would like to offer some comments on the column by Sean Cunningham, which I found to be a little insulting and to say the least, cynical, from someone who does not understand the social nuances for the period of "Titanic."

Perhaps the dialogue in the movie was slightly stilted, but historians say the depiction of the era is right on target. And though I have not seen "Good Will Hunting," I understand from one of my children and several friends that the dialogue in that film – that is also being considered for an Academy Award – is cluttered and filled with four-letter words and gestures. Perhaps the dialogue from that film is more in line with what you consider more acceptable and exhilarating for today.

In August 1958, I had the opportunity to be part of the "Sailing Palaces" experience when I sailed on the "Queen Elizabeth" to take part in the wedding of an English friend. Most ships at that time had three classes: first class, cabin class and third class. And to answer your question, yes, Sean, there was definite class snobbery on the ship and, yes, it was more fun in third class.

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My room was in cabin class, which was slightly less luxurious than the first class, but had more panache than the third. First class passengers were the elite of their day and did stand around boring other passengers, setting up bridge games, walking about like they owned the ship, concerned about which jewels to wear with which outfit and worried about whether or not they would be invited to sit at the Captain's table for dinner. The only time (besides life boat drill) that we were even allowed to venture into the first class area, was on Sunday morning for the nondenominational church service – and even then we were looked down upon by these virtuous snobs who suspiciously eyed us as though they suspected we were going to suddenly overwhelm their illustrious domain.

Each night after dinner, however, we all trooped down to the third class area, and – as depicted in the movie – that's where the action was! You could hear the music and laughter reverberate throughout the ship from this area and even first class passengers ventured down into the bowls of the ship to see what was going on, and more importantly, what they were missing. What was going on was dancing, singing, (and I'm sure other activities), or just sitting in groups and talking like old friends, which went on into the wee hours.

The third class passengers definitely knew how to enjoy the voyage – no airs, no cares and no excuses – and a majority of these particular passengers were American undergraduate and graduate students sailing to Europe to begin their studying at foreign universities, or European students returning from studying in this country. During this time of the '50s, I had friends who sailed to Europe and back on ships literally jammed with college students and it was claimed that they were the best voyages of all.

It is a shame that the young people of today, including my own children, will never have the experience of sailing on these luxury liners. They certainly were the grande dames of their time and definitely an era that can never be replaced. And, I for one will always be thankful for the opportunity of having been able to experience one of the grandest "Sailing Palaces." Virginia Davis Reference & Collection Development Firestone Library

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