Sarah Ball, the prospective freshman who decided against Stanford University because of the unrelenting cheerfulness of Admit Weekend, certainly made the right decision ["This Pro-Fro's a No-Go," Outlook, May 9]. Ball definitely would not enjoy Stanford if she is offended by icebreaker games and demeaned by social mixers. Her complaint that Admit Weekend is too prepackaged and that the organizers smiled too much also suggests that she would be turned off by Stanford, a campus known for being friendly and laid-back. She also complained that the "terra cotta roofs and palm-studded plazas" reminded her of a chain Mexican restaurant.
I wonder what exactly Ball expected when she signed up to attend a coordinated weekend designed to give prospective freshmen a taste of the Stanford experience -- spur-of-the-moment debates with Nobel laureates just passing through the dorms? Unfortunately for Ball, it's impossible to schedule spontaneity, and her reluctance to participate in scheduled social and academic activities leads me to believe that she would not have much luck engaging most Stanford students or professors in intellectual discourse anyway. Obviously, Duke University's Admit Weekend coordinators must have done something right to win the affections and tuition check of Ball; perhaps the Duke room hosts ignored their "pro-fros" (prospective freshmen).
-- Stephanie Early
Sarah Ball's article has generated a good deal of controversy on the Stanford campus, not because she spurned our university, but because of her seething appraisal of activities intended to address "minority" issues, which she viewed as encouraging these groups to "stick to their own." As a white student who has greatly benefited from the chance to learn from and participate in ethnic student organizations, I was offended by the implication that ethnic student groups are exclusive and divisive. In fact, these groups are among the most unifying, as they generate cross-ethnic support and force us to develop racially sensitive practices.
That's what education should be about: diverse people challenging each other to be more responsible to the community as a whole. By choosing not to attend any of the forums geared toward students different from herself, Ball segregated herself. That's her choice; I only ask that she not discredit the work that so many students have done to break down the barriers she so politely respects.
-- Kelly Wells