To the Editors of The Crimson:
I'm a very temporary resident here at Harvard: a newspaper reporter on a nine-month Nieman Fellowship.
But in the short time I've been here, I've learned a couple of things besides how to play squash. I've learned that this school, while having some damn fine teachers, tends disturbingly often to neglect or reject them. The latest Harvard teacher to whom this has happened is Diana Thomson, currently at the center of the flap over dropping fiction writing from Harvard's expository writing program.
Along with several other Nieman fellows, a number of Harvard undergrads and people from the Cambridge community, I am now taking here and is a testament to Ms. Thomson's ability both as a teacher and (sorry, Prof. Marius) a human being. Writing--any writing, but particularly fiction writing--is a very personal thing and often is difficult to discuss with others. However, under Ms. Thomson's direction, our group of 15 men and women has achieved the interplay of feelings and ideas that is so essential to a "learning experience." We've also produced some damn good writing and little of it, I venture to say, would have come without Diana's frequent and freely given help.
I come from a newspaper that has the sometimes deserved reputation of being the best-edited in the country. As a part of that paper for more than a decade. I think I know good writing when I see it and good editors when I see them. Diana Thomson is a fine editor. She is also a fine teacher. Before she is forced to leave. I thought Harvard should know those two things. --Frank Van Riper Nieman Fellow