Letters to the Editor Summer 2021

Anne Helen Petersen, author of Can't Even (credit: Eric Matt)

Calling Out Can’t Even

On reading author Anne Helen Petersen’s observations (Boosting the “Burnout Generation,” spring 2021) about the plight of Millennials, I was outraged to learn that someone had crippled them with huge college loan debts. Whoever did this should be forced to pay for it—in full. Who forged their signatures on financial aid applications? Who lied to them about the ease of paying off student loans? And who spent all of that money for what apparently was not a very good return on investment?

I must confess that I don’t recognize any of my four children or their friends in Petersen’s description of Millennials. Perhaps because my children and their friends avoided as much as possible taking out college loans, instead creatively and persistently finding other ways to pay for their education. They have also not been surprised by the precariousness of the economy or the misguided economic policies of politicians bent on saddling them and their children with debt in perpetuity because they learned about these issues in their youth. Consequently, they soberly pursued educations that would position them to lead productive AND fulfilling lives and were well-prepared upon graduation to make their way in the world. Life can often be challenging. There is prudence in being prepared, though it certainly can take some of the fun out of college life.

Allan Bird, PhD ’88 (management)
Forest Grove, Oregon

I’m looking forward to reading Anne Helen Petersen’s book Can’t Even, about how Millennials might be misperceived. They were the first generation to be wholly raised in the antisocial world of social media, a world dominated by very little face-to-face interaction; I hope Petersen addresses this in her book. It was telling that her [academic] focus was on “celebrity and celebrity studies.” Perhaps it’s the Millennials’ obsession with how celebrities live—and the absurdity of pursuing a career as an “influencer”—that has led older generations to denigrate Millennials. However, every generation derides up-and-comers as lazy and not as formidable as folks were “back in the day,” right? Millennials aren’t unique in being called out for this. Writing a book about it seems to strengthen the very assertions the author is trying to dispel.

Matt Emrich, BS ’94 (political science)
Cottage Grove, Oregon

Making a Difference by Design

Congratulations on the fine spring 2021 Oregon Quarterly. There are several articles that captured my interest; however, “An Explorer by Design” about Dr. Adrian Parr stood out. Her work looks to be very multidisciplinary. Please congratulate Dr. Parr for her work. It touches many topics that are of real importance in today’s world.

Clarence Baer, PhD ’75 (health education)
Lakewood, Colorado

The Physics of Perseverance

I thought the spring 2021 Oregon Quarterly was excellent! I particularly found Ed Dorsch’s outstanding article about physicist Nicole Wales and her personal struggles to attain academic achievement entirely inspirational. It was a moving and brilliant piece of journalism, but Ms. Wales’s personal story really brought me to tears of joy. Wow! Summation, great reading. Keep up the great work.

Daniel Borsuk, BA ’70 (journalism)
Pittsburg, California

Praise for “12 Words”

A belated thank you for a magnificent piece of writing, “12 Words,” by Brian Trapp [winter 2021]. I read it and sobbed. Months later, I discovered it in a pile on my desk and read it again. And again I cried. Thanks for keeping us alums updated and interested.

Susan G. Phinney, BS ’63 (journalism)
Seattle, Washington

Athletics or Academics?

I worked my way through college, graduating in 1972 with bachelor’s degrees in anthropology and psychology. I deeply resented being forced to pay a fee to support the athletic department every term, since I had no interest in sports events and needed to be careful with my money. It’s almost 50 years later, but removing that fee will be a relief to students who don’t follow sports. There are a few of us who attend college for academic reasons.

Julie Reynolds, BA ’72 (Clark Honors College, anthropology, psychology)
The Dalles, Oregon

We want to hear from you. Submit your letters by email to quarterly@uoregon.edu, at OregonQuarterly.com, or by mail to Editor, Oregon Quarterly, 5228 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-5228. Published letters may be edited for brevity, clarity, and style.