Letters to the Editor Winter 2015

Our Plastics Problem

Thank you for writing such an informative and impressive article (“Awash in Plastic,” Autumn 2015). I’ve known about these humongous ocean debris areas from reading previous articles. Your article made them more real to the imagination. I felt as if I were along on your trip. Motion sickness and all! I’ll be sending a link to your article to all my pals scattered throughout the USA. Maybe their feedback and input will get the ball rolling and encourage companies to offer more eco-friendly packaging and manufacturing of products in the not-too-distant future.

Larry Gellert

“Awash in Plastic” ends with a paragraph about reducing plastic through personal consumer choices. That’s not pointless, and is also not a solution. Plastic makers are getting a free ride. Their products are not cheaper, nor harmless to dispose. Impact costs could be embedded in manufacture and sale. We all pay for it in different ways already. Policy changes are required. 

Andrew Stone

It strikes me that this global, oceanic problem has a connection to the Willamette River, which flows through Eugene. What would it take to become a plastic-free Willamette? How could we set an example in our backyard to rid our urban waterway of its contribution to the Pacific gyre?

Stephen Flanagan


Home Is Where the Heart Is

Regarding “Got Their Backs” (Autumn 2015), if there was a dog on death row that was given the choice of living on the street with someone who loved them or dying a death with so-called dignity, we know what choice the dog would take. Who cares that the food is the cheapest, and the dog didn’t get regular checkups? It was loved and was able to love back. Isn’t that what counts?

Susan Honthumb, BA ’90


Good Teachers Matter

I would like to see more articles in Oregon Quarterly about teaching and learning. What are teachers doing to engage their students and encourage them, especially at the undergraduate level? What are students doing to show that they are learning in a productive way? What has changed in the general attitude of teachers at the university?

I have to honestly say that while I was at the UO in the ’60s, more teachers were interested in catching mistakes and criticizing students than were interested in building them up to love learning. There were notable exceptions. Some teachers loved their subjects and were able to communicate their enthusiasm so that students really wanted to learn. These teachers made a huge difference to me. They should not be exceptions.

Rich Young, BMus ’68
Tenino, Washington 

The Future of the Bowerman Building

Not long ago I was shocked by a report in the Register-Guard that plans may be afoot to demolish the Bowerman Building! The reason is to make room for a larger grandstand needed to accommodate large crowds (30,000 plus) expected at the IAAF World Championships in track and field in 2021. May I propose an alternative solution to the problem of accommodating the anticipated megacrowds in 2021? Simply install a track in Autzen Stadium. Football and track used to coexist at Hayward. They should be able to do the same at Autzen.

I hope that the decision makers give this proposal careful consideration.

George Larson, BS ’61

Editor’s note: The Bowerman Building will be demolished in August. The building’s functions will be moved to new facilities in the new west grandstand at Hayward Field.

Save the Sharks

Jonathan Graham’s article “Wandering Hong Kong” (Autumn 2015), perhaps unintentionally, gives credence to and indirectly endorses the consumption of shark fin soup—one of the most egregious acts of cruelty that can be performed against wildlife. According to the organization Shark Savers, between 26 and 73 million sharks are killed each year for their fins, placing the species in great danger of survival.

David Berg

Remembering Emmett Williams

I read a notice in the latest Quarterly about the death of Emmett R. Williams, BS ’53, MEd ’70, PhD ’75. I was a longtime friend of Emmett, and also a musician who performed with him. Williams was more than just a piano player. He served as an administrator in the financial aid office for years, and was one of the very few minority administrators at the university. He was a voice in counseling minority students who were involved in the various programs the likes of Upward Bound, Sesamex, and others. 

Edwin L. Coleman II
Professor Emeritus of English