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The Berkeleyan, and its readers, make waves

05 March 2003

Who follows campus news? A lot of people, apparently — based on reader response to several recent Berkeleyan articles. Last week’s issue carried an article on Elizabeth Anderson, a graduate student in the School of Education, and a group of young women from a special-ed class she works with at Berkeley High School. The girls were thrilled to see their pictures in the newspaper and became celebrities at school. But that was just the beginning.

Since the article appeared — in print and on the campus’s online NewsCenter — there’s been a steady stream of inquiries and offers in response. Berkeley senior and Rhodes Scholar Ankur Luthra has promised the girls computers. Alumna Christine Lim is ensuring that they get to see the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in San Francisco. People have written to inquire if there’s a way to help, while others have gotten in touch to ask Anderson to share some of her ideas.

“The dance company, the computers — I am overwhelmed by the generosity displayed, and the kindness,” Anderson said in a note to author Carol Hyman.

Another story, which ran Jan. 16 — about a San Quentin State Prison college A.A. degree program run by UC Berkeley students and other community volunteers — also generated a flood of responses from the campus and beyond. Readers offered to volunteer as teachers or to contribute monetarily (one of them expects to secure more than $1,000 for the program).

The response was such that the program’s director, Jody Lewen, held an extra training session for volunteers, in order to accommodate all those who contacted her.

E-mail messages she received included one from a Lawrence Berkeley Lab employee with a doctorate in biochemistry, offering to teach in the prison. “I speak Spanish, and could give classes in that language,” wrote another reader, a Berkeley resident knowledgeable, as well, in German, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.