Letters to the Editor

Food Equality and Obesity

I was disappointed that “Flood Tide in Tennessee” [Spring 2010] didn’t discuss the causes of childhood obesity. One off-hand reference to “food inequality” does not do the issue justice. Fast food and other highly processed foods provide the greatest caloric density for families with limited financial resources and limited time for cooking. Until we address the lack of accessible, inexpensive, healthy options, all the resources of Vanderbilt and efforts of its outstanding staff are wasted.

Shay Roalson, BE’93
Austin, Texas

I am excited to see a focus on diet and exercise for our children. My daughter (now 16) and I participated in a Vanderbilt program, “Shape Down,” about six years ago. Since then she has taken an active role with health-conscious diet choices and a fitness program. We as a family have made tremendous changes in meal choices and exercise. As a middle school teacher, I would like to hear more about the Eat Well, Play More Tennessee program, something I can incorporate into my curriculum.

Deborah James
Gallatin, Tenn. 


Greeks Bearing Test Banks

It seems to me that Greek life is primarily about getting wasted and having fun. There’s nothing wrong with this. To argue that Greek life has evolved into something noble, however, is disingenuous. The necessity to make such an argument seriously undermines the position the author takes in this article [“Good to Be Greek,” Spring 2010].

The Greek GPA is still inflated by the “test banks” made accessible to them. I consider this a serious problem at Vanderbilt.

I also think that comparing the average Greek GPA to the overall average GPA is an overly simplistic analysis. Look at the top 25 percent of Vanderbilt students, and see what proportion is Greek: I suspect Greek students are disproportionately underrepresented in this subsection. My point is that getting involved in Greek life is probably not the best way to become an excellent student, despite this article’s implications.

Samuel Nackman, BE’10
Chapel Hill, N.C.


thumb-CMThe School of Country Life

Thank you for your article about Knapp Farm [Spring 2010, Collective Memory]. I admire Paul Conkin’s work about the history of this area.

I am Bruce Payne’s grandson and remember trips to the farm. There was an apartment in the clubhouse where my family spent several summers. The clubhouse at the farm had been the site of Buchanan’s Station, one of the early settlements in the area and the site of a famous Indian battle. One tower was still standing but was later torn down because of termites.

In addition to Holstein cows at Knapp Farm, there were Duroc hogs and Southdown sheep. I remember watching men shear the sheep and going to sheep auctions at the fairgrounds. There were no row crops except for corn; the whole idea was to show the advantages of these breeds. Percheron horses were tried but were unsuccessful, as they could not take the heat.

Ray Appleton ran the farm. His brother, Roy Appleton, was building and grounds superintendent for Peabody. Both Roy and Ray lived at the farm, and their father was night watchman at the college.

M. Carr Payne Jr., BA’49
Franklin, Tenn.


Graphic Meltdown

Once again, an article about commercial nuclear reactors [Spring 2010, “Bright Ideas”] is illustrated with a picture of two BWR hyperbolic cooling towers—thus continuing the false impression with the public that they represent nuclear power reactors. I expect to continue to see this in daily newspapers, etc. (it probably started with media coverage of the Three Mile Island facility after the 1979 accident), but more is expected of Vanderbilt. Surely, a picture of a reactor containment building could have been found or drawn.

George R. Jenkins, BA’58
Walnut Grove, Ga.


The Yearling Goes to the Opry

Reading “Vandy-in-Hollywood” [Spring 2010] reminds me of a classmate at Vanderbilt my freshman year. He and I pledged Phi Delta Theta, and on initiation night we were sent out for various requirements. One was to get autographs at the Grand Ole Opry. My classmate was Claude Jarman Jr., BA’56—who had won an Academy Award [in 1947, for Outstanding Child Actor] for his lead role in the movie The Yearling. This was our freshman year, 1952–53. Claude was a great guy and a great star.

Dean Gillespie, BE’57
McMinnville, Tenn.

[Editor’s Note: Former child actor and Nashville native Claude Jarman lives in California and has a number of acting credits to his name, though he never again achieved the early success he found as Jody in The Yearling. The owner of a corporate travel planning business, Jarman last returned to Vanderbilt for his 50th Reunion in 2006.]


Taking Matters into His Own Hands

gordon_robinsonThanks for the article about Dr. O. Gordon Robinson, BA’53 [Fall 2009, “Humanity Ascending”]. Dr. Robinson has made a real and true difference in the lives of hundreds of people who mostly are living in countries that offer little or no hope or relief. His personal sacrifice of time and money has reached real people with real problems without dilution by theories, programs and bureaucrats. Score one for the individual who does the work. We need more of them.

Dr. Everett C. Mosley, BA’53
Huntsville, Ala.

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