Walter Van Vort '69 is a graduate of Exeter and Harvard College. For the past half-year, he has been living in Cambridge, doing odd jobs to pay his rent and using what he has left of a small inheritance for spending money. Last month, he also drove a Checker cab.
The Boston Herald-Traveler said Sunday Van Vort is "one of a new breed of college graduates who prefer to do nothing at all with their education."
Van Vort says he has been accepted by Case-Wastern Reserve Medical School, and would like to become a psychiatrist. He'd also like to sue the Herald-although he hasn't seen a lawyer yet.
Van Vort didn't like what the Herald said about him, but the reporter who wrote the story says he admires what Van Vort is doing. It's a confusing controversy.
Last Sunday, the Herald published an article by James K. Glassman '69, describing Van Vort's way of life and saying that he was typical of a new breed of "copouts"-students and recent graduates who "have adopted a deeply cynical attitude about society. mainly because they are members of the generation that has lived with Vietnam, the assassination ofthree of their greatest heroes, and the rise of impersonal bureaucracies."
Glassman-who writes regularly for the Herald-quoted Van Vort as having told him, "I want to continue living in the same kind of spirit as in college-avoiding responsibilities, not fitting into routines." Glassman also reported that Van Vort had said. "I don't want to work. I don't like it."
Last night, Van Vort said the quotes had been "restructured and slanted." What he told Glassman, he said, was that he had "learned that there are a lot of dehumanizing forces in this society" and that he thought college "paradisiacal" compared to most jobs.
Van Vort also objected to radio advertisements for the article, which, he claimed, said that he "aspires to do nothing more with his life."
"It's correct that for the second half of last year I had a tough time putting it all together," he said. "But I've had some career plans for the past three years." This week, he began working as a full-time psychiatric aid at McClean Hospital in Belmont.
Glassman-who knew Van Vort when they were undergraduates together-stood by his story last night, although he admitted that he "didn't like the way it had been advertised either.
"But it's not the least bit libelous," he said. "I left out the stuff about the medical school because it didn't serve the purpose of the story. I was writing about a whole group of people: Van Vort was only an example."
Me Too, Me Too
"I meant to say that he wasn't going to use his education the way a lot of people do-as an immediate ticket to a vocation. I'm totally sympathetic with people who don't want to use their education to join the mainstream of society. I'm one of those guys myself," Glassman said.
He advised Van Vort to write a letter to the Herald if he felt he had been misrepresented by the story.
Both Van Vort and Glassman are former CRIMSON editors.