Injustice at Bennington
Editor-A Bennington student, quoted in your article, "On Its Own Terms" (National CrossTalk, Summer 2002), says: "I think it's better to lose good teachers than to only have mediocre teachers." To anyone with an ear, that shouldn't make much sense. Why would you sacrifice quality to avoid mediocrity? Yet her confusion seems apt. Bennington fired brilliant, inspiring teachers-the best I ever had, after a year at the college before and after its restructuring, plus two more years at Vassar College-and put in their place some okay ones.
If the school has improved by now, so be it. Ends do not justify means. Elizabeth Coleman, with no respect for academic freedom or due process, fired nearly one-third of Bennington's faculty in 1994 as part of her plan. Were they a threat to the College? Or were they a threat to Ms. Coleman? Your author, Kathy Witkowsky, should have asked those questions.
President Coleman devastated the lives of so many excellent teachers who had devoted so much to Bennington College. It was an injustice. And any article that fails to address that injustice has contributed to it in some small way.
Brooklyn, New York