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To the Editor: I am writing to condemn the article in Thursday's 34th Street ("Spare change," 2/1/01) that tacitly condoned giving money to panhandlers and portrayed "James" in a sympathetic and favorable light. While a large number of homeless are mentally ill and therefore not altogether responsible for their actions, James is just the type of person who is hurt most when people give money to panhandlers. This activity is illegal for a reason. It is not only bothersome, but it keeps panhandlers on the street instead of seeking support from social services and shelters. As James says, "There's some help around, with the government... I just got to get to it." He will never get to it if he continues to receive handouts on the street. James did not move to Philadelphia eight months ago. I have been a student at Penn for four years, and he has been around since I got here. He likes to frequent the food trucks around Gimbel Gym where he earns a decent living from the generosity of the Penn community. The fact that homelessness and poverty thrive in the world's wealthiest nation is abominable. And James is right that probably most people "have enough to spare a little change." If this is the case, those people should make charitable contributions where they are most effective, to the types of institutions that combat homelessness and poverty, where people in James' situation can find a bed and a hot meal -- instead of directly into the hands of people who are often drug and alcohol abusers.

Marcel Benjamin College and Wharton '01

A refereed "Game of Life"

To the Editor: The article on James Shulman and William Bowen's recent book, The Game of Life ("Athletics and the admissions game," DP, 2/20/01) contains a comment by Ivy League Executive Director Jeffrey Orleans that leaves the impression that the book went unrefereed before publication. Orleans is quoted as saying "that he thought if The Game of Life were a manuscript submitted to an academic journal, it wouldn't pass the refereeing process." As the book's publisher, I would like to note that this book, in manuscript, received written reports from two academic readers. Both scholars recommended publication, and their reports formed the basis on which The Game of Life was accepted for publication by our editorial board -- which is composed of five tenured Princeton University faculty members. In addition, at least two noted economists also read the manuscript and made additional editiorial suggestions to the authors.

Walter Lippincott Director, Princeton University Press

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