Looking a gift horse in the mouth

Perhaps Oren Spiegler’s lack of affiliation with the University explains the callousness of his thoughtless remarks in a recent letter to the editor. Our University depends upon the generous donations of alumni such as Povich to fund many of the valuable programs and entities that exist on campus today. The Penn Fund works tirelessly to encourage fundraising through the “Making History: The Campaign for Penn” initiative. If we continue to treat our alumni with such disdain and disrespect, I expect that the University will see a precipitous decline in donations.

While some may not consider The Maury Povich Show to be wholesome daytime television that represents journalistic excellence, Povich’s contribution to the American media is substantial. If we are referring to one of our benefactors as a “slime merchant” who peddles “smut,” then we might as well be telling alumni to donate at their own risk.

I sincerely hope that Spiegler’s unnecessary and deleterious commentary does not reflect poorly upon our University’s gratitude and that other potential donors are not dissuaded to give back to their alma maters. In this rocky economy just beginning the road to recovery, we cannot afford to look gift horses in the mouth.

Shane Goldberg Wharton sophomore

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Capogiro is refined, not ‘condescending’

The subtitle of Emily Orrson’s recent column was “Dear Gelato Artisans, please leave the attitude out of your art,” and — as a seasoned journalist and tenured professor with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Penn — I wonder if it shouldn’t be turned back onto Orrson. It certainly does not apply to Capogiro.

Orrson’s lack of knowledge about Italy, the Italian habits and artisanal traditions and about the Reitanos and their commitment to authenticity and to the public’s access to something extraordinary seem sadly sophomoric.

Orrson doesn’t seem to have background or curiosity about artisanal gelato versus junk gelato. How about her research into the cacao bean and into coffee traditions other than what she and her friends want — and they want it now? Capogiro, according to Orrson, had better wise up to what her friends and acquaintances want now — and then she will “forgive” the “condescension.”

Phrases such as “curdled coffee culture,” “unnecessary condescension and pretension,” “they’re so rude” and “they lord themselves over everyone” flood the article. These are damaging to a company that knows its products all the way and cares, perhaps too much, about providing people with excellence and authenticity.

I discovered the original Capogiro on the day after it opened. I had just returned from four months in Italy. I spoke at great length with Stephanie and John Reitano and observed all their hard work (try being in the basement of the gelateria making fresh gelato every day, starting at 5 a.m.) and have written articles about their enterprise.

What Orrson interprets, from her narrow viewpoint, as condescension may actually be fine and refined elements with which she and the others are unfamiliar. The majority of those she quotes sound angry that they can’t have what they want when they want it simply because they want it.

Dea Mallin College graduate and master’s recipient

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Missed coverage of a stimulating talk

On March 30, the rescheduled Tenth Annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture in Social Justice was held in Irvine Auditorium. This event featured a conversation between Camille Charles, University Sociology professor and director of the Center for Africana Studies and Tim Wise, one of the most prominent anti-racist writers and educators in the United States. Wise is the noted author of Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity and Between Barack and a Hard Place: Challenging Racism, Privilege and Denial in the Age of Obama. This was an excellent and very timely discussion that I took great pleasure in attending.

It was disappointing to see that more people from the Penn community were not in attendance. My disappointment was deepened when I opened The Daily Pennsylvanian and saw no mention of this event. Instead, the DP chose to feature a front-page photo and page-three article about Ugly Betty actress America Ferrera as the keynote speaker for the Festivo Latino. While I take nothing away from Ferrera’s talk on activism, Wise also offered pertinent food for thought that all members of the Penn community should hear and think about that definitely warranted coverage by the DP.

Jack Lewis 1981 Master of Social Work recipient and lecturer in the School of Social Policy and Practice

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