Don’t be down on Yale-NUS

In recent discussions of President Levin’s legacy, Nathaniel Zelinsky (“Five quick takes on Levin’s retirement,” Aug. 30) and others suggest that Yale-NUS College is an exception — a misstep in an otherwise great career. I and others actively involved in Yale-NUS, believe, as does Levin, that Yale-NUS will prove to be one of his greatest achievements and that negative statements about the project will eventually look as foolish as the objections to the admission of women to Yale College half a century ago.

I hope and expect that Yale-NUS will create an inspiring and supportive community of learning for its students and faculty, extend the influence of the liberal arts ideal in Asia and the world and broaden and strengthen the education we offer here in New Haven. Others suggest (I trust they do not hope for this) that external constraints on political expression might lead to failure. My interactions thus far with those involved in Yale-NUS in Singapore, including faculty, students, staff and administrators at Yale-NUS, NUS and beyond, suggest that the former outcome will be much closer to the truth than the latter.

But time will tell; this aspect of Levin’s legacy will be determined by events on the ground in Singapore after the College opens next year.

Charles Bailyn

Aug. 31

The writer is the A. Bartlett Giamatti Professor of Astronomy & Physics and Inaugural Dean of the Faculty at Yale-NUS College.

Traditional families can teach us what love means

Klara Wojtkowska (“A more universal family,” Sept. 6) proposes a definition of family in which anyone from mentors to friends can be called family in lieu of parents. Although we need loving friends, to propose that there is no difference between a loving community and a family is to neglect the unique and irreplaceable love that biological family provides.

Her comments are based on a rebuttal of the traditional definition of family, which she says does “not allow for all of the important relationships that help everyone navigate their lives.”

It is mistaken to say that support for the traditional family denies the possibility of loving relationships. On the contrary, the traditional family is the foremost school of selfless love, and we will have a less loving society without it.

Family is the first place in which we learn to sacrifice other exciting options and devote ourselves to someone. For the parents, “me” is replaced by “us” and “you.”

For a child, the continued commitment of the parents gives an example to be imitated. Additionally, the reassurance that there is a dependable permanence in the love which brought her into being is the very essence of a healthy environment for a child.

In a broken world, friends and community should play a heroic role in bringing love where it is missing. But we should not forget that the traditional family is irreplaceable because it uniquely testifies to and sustains the permanence of self-giving love.

Eduardo Andino

Sep. 6

The writer is a senior in Trumbull College.

Margaret Farley’s influence

The New York Times (“Vatican Scolds Nun for Book on Sexuality,” June 5) recounts the Vatican’s displeasure at the book “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics” by Sister Margaret Farley and puts the lie to all of those on the Yale Daily News web site’s posting board who have mocked and trivialized both the Yale Divinity School and its curriculum.

Sister Margaret was a respected faculty member when I was a student (’76–’80) and continued to teach there until her retirement a few years ago.

It is clear from this article that her influence (and, by extension, Yale Divinity School’s influence) has had a world-wide impact in the realm of religious ethics. The Vatican finds that to be the case and attempts to snuff that influence out.

I suggest that those who would criticize Yale Divinity School and its curriculum need to look closer at the history of its leadership in the religious and ethical revolutions of the world which proceed quietly, unseen by the media but felt by millions.

Paul Keane

June 5

The writer is a 1980 graduate of the Divinity School.