The Physical Internet

Your piece “Behind the Glowing Screen” (Spring 2013) gave me a chuckle. Andrew Blum’s journey to find the Internet began in his basement in Brooklyn. Mine began on a rooftop in the Bronx. Only, I wasn’t looking for the Internet—it found me.  

My business start-up began somewhat desperately in the mid-’90s. I took a task others wouldn’t—scouting rooftops on tenement buildings in the South Bronx for expansion of Sprint’s cellular antennae network. My business evolved from rooftop deals, to access agreements in office buildings, to brokering leases for data carriers, to construction of data centers. These nondescript, concrete buildings are incongruously critical to the function of our communications infrastructure. And, just in case Mr. Blum is curious, he need not go in search of “The Cloud.” He found it already.

Christopher Murray ’80
Ridgefield, Conn.

Andrew Blum '99 Andrew Blum '99
(Photo by Adam Krause)

Clean, consistent and appealing

I want to commend you on the Spring issue of Amherst. It is not only well written, but the interior design is gorgeous. I have given up a couple of subscriptions (which shall remain nameless) because their designs became too messy. But yours is clean, consistent and appealing. Good work! There also seemed to be more interesting information on what students (as well as recent graduates) are doing. Perhaps I have not paid sufficient attention to past issues, but on this one you and your staff are to be congratulated.

Dixon Long ’55
Mill Valley, Calif.

Too select

I was intrigued by the idea of “Select Dinners” discussed in the Spring issue (“Elevating the College Party,” College Row). However, I was disappointed that only students of “legal drinking age” are invited. I, and the handful of other grade-skippers in my class, would not have been able to participate, since we did not turn 21 until after graduation. I would suggest that the college organize at least one dinner in the series to include underage seniors, at which nondrinkers would be welcomed as well. These groups should not be excluded from what sounds like an otherwise excellent new tradition.

Stephanie K. Turner ’91

Half of the dinners in the 2013-14 academic year will be for the under-21 group. Each will have a different theme. –Editor

I’m troubled by the article “Elevating the College Party.” Just when I thought Amherst was serious about curbing its elitism, I find an article touting the celebration of class distinction. This is the college’s Select Dinner Series: a breezy 15-minute lecture affirming that “this will be the American century” followed by a white-linen four-course meal accompanied by the right wines. Is this what’s required for students to break out of their shells and engage in serious conversation? Who’s paying for these dinners? And who gets to attend? Do college students really need to be waited upon? Must deep conversation be alcohol-fueled? This seems to me a training ground for Wall Street interviews rather than an effort to cross social boundaries. Or maybe it’s a  new “class” project to bring the now 50-percent nonwhite, 60-percent financial-aid-reliant student body into the elitist fold.

When I was an undergraduate we had our own aspirations to nudge the intellectual culture through new dining habits. We cooked cream of celery soup in the kitchen of one of the houses and heard from one of our esteemed professors while we sat around communal tables. Although the soup burned and most of us repaired to Valentine for a proper meal, we weren’t seeking to mimic the high and mighty and instead relished the opportunity college provided to do something for ourselves.

I keep hoping that the leadership of Tony Marx and Biddy Martin signal real change, but in this case the professed aspiration for social connection betrays a more basic desire to hold tight to wealth and power. Whether this is borne out of the arrogance or insecurity of the current student body, wouldn’t discussion over coffee or the proverbial late-night pizza suffice?

Brenda Chalfin ’86
Gainesville, Fla.

Social media posts

On Facebook and Twitter, alumni and students weighed in on stories in the Spring 2013 magazine, including those on the new dinosaur skeleton and the alumni proprietors of Sidehill Farm.

“Our student-to-dinosaur ratio is pretty awesome.” Will Savino ’14, via Facebook

“Wait: SideHill Farm yogurt, some of the best yogurt ever, is made by fellow @AmherstCollege alums? Stop the presses! Buy SideHill!” Beth Maynard ’84, via Twitter

“Nice design makeover of the @AmherstCollege alumni mag—kudos.” Ted Loos ’91, via Twitter

Amy Klippenstein ’89 and Paul Lacinski ’89 with cows on Sidehill Farm


The Spring 2013 review of the book Schroder misspelled the phrase “free rein.”

We Want to Hear From You

Amherst welcomes letters from its readers. Please send them to or Amherst Magazine, PO Box 5000, Amherst, MA 01002. Letters must be 300 words or fewer and should address the content in the magazine.