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Anne Spurzem, Smith College Alum Writes Controversial Letter To The Editor

Smith

First Posted: 02/27/2012 9:35 am Updated: 03/ 7/2012 8:13 am

Anne Spurzem doesn't like the women attending her alma matter these days.

Spurzem wrote a letter to the editor of the Sophian this week complaining about the demographics of the current student body of Smith College, a private school for women.

Spurzem, a 1984 graduate of Smith, sparked outrage last week by suggesting Smith was undervaluing SAT scores in order to admit lesbians and minorities:

The people who are attending Smith these days are A) lesbians or B) international students who get financial aid or C) low-income women of color who are the first generation in their family to go to college and will go to any school that gives them enough money. Carol emphasizes that this is one of her goals, and so that's why the school needs more money for scholarships or D) white heterosexual girls who can't get into Ivy League schools.

Smith no longer looks at SATs because if it did, it would have to report them to U.S. News & World Report. Low-income black and Hispanic students generally have lower SATs than whites or Asians of any income bracket. This is an acknowledged fact because they don't have access to expensive prep classes or private tutors.

Spurzem, who heads a local alumnae group, said it was "unfortunate" Smith was underweighting SAT scores to get more diversity.

"I can tell you that the days of white, wealthy, upper-class students from prep schools in cashmere coats and pearls who marry Amherst men are over," Spurzem said. "This is unfortunate because it is this demographic that puts their name on buildings, donates great art and subsidizes scholarships."

Other Smith alumnae have objected to Spurzem's comments.

A town hall forum has been planned to discuss the letter. They're also asking attendees to wear pearls and cashmere, which Spurzem referenced in her letter and take a photo mocking Spurzem's comments.

Jezebel also notes the Sophian has added a disclaimer to the top of the letter, reminding students to be civil in their comments.
Some of the commenters on the post identify themselves as "Proud parent of a minority, first gen," and "Class of 2011 (low income, sorry Spurzy)."

One commenter, Rabbi Dr. Richard A. Davis, wrote, "Smith Dad here, twice. Both daughters heterosexual (mentioned to make a point and not to judge). So, don't you miss good old-fashioned elitism? The argument given is ad hominem against Smith itself."

Another commenter, Leigh Peake, identifying herself as a fellow '84 grad, said she was disappointed to see someone from her class advocate Spurzem's complaints against the LGBT community.

"The mid '80s were an incredible time at Smith with deep conversations about lesbians on campus," Peake wrote, adding "Reading this letter, I could only feel such deep disappointment-I thought we'd made such progress during those years! And then I read the responses and realized we HAVE made such progress. You young women are the ones who will take Smith forward and who will carry the banner for the education and values imparted to you there."

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Filed by Tyler Kingkade  |