Letters to the Editor

Letter: Tisch ’76 P’18 P’20 misses the mark

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

To the Editor:

Former Chancellor Thomas Tisch’s ’76 P’18 P’20 shamelessly money-minded and utilitarian letter in response to Daniel Meyer’s ’17 column ought to inspire fear and outrage from students and faculty members of this “liberal” institution alike. The real rub of Meyer’s piece is not, as Tisch claims, that the value of the bear statue should go to financial aid (a nice point — how to balance these competing demands), but rather that we ought to think critically about why the Brown administration accepts certain gifts and the murky moral questions to which such gifts give rise. Tisch’s response is not to ameliorate Meyer’s worry, but rather to prove that it is justified: Tisch proudly makes clear that riches enable one to put one’s mark on Brown however one pleases ­— so long as one has given enough money first. The public claim that we should take the good with the bad, the financial aid with the insider training and lousy artworks, becomes less surprising when one recalls that Tisch is himself a businessman. It is perhaps not surprising that a former member of the Sears Holding Corporation, a managing partner of Four Partners and a member of one of the richest families in the United States would not only support but publicly defend a moral system in which the left hand, busy imposing art on strollers-by, studiously ignores what the right is doing. The university is primarily an academic institution, not a financial one, and the mores of the marketplace have no place even in the decision of what art to display. We deserve better from our administrators.

Margaret Shea ’19

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