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Comments: Week of May 25, 2020

1 In the latest issue, New York explored how the current crisis will reshape higher education (What Is College Without the Campus?,” May 11–24). As part of this special report, James D. Walsh spoke with NYU Stern School of Business professor Scott Galloway about his predictions for a future marriage of elite universities and big tech. Bonnie Keeler, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota, tweeted, “This is the best thing I’ve read about the future of college, in times of COVID and beyond.” @ardalis added, “Long before the pandemic, it was clear to me that the current costs of higher education were going to reach a tipping point where they simply exceeded their value. So is this another area where tech will swoop in and disrupt?” @DagomarDegroot challenged Galloway’s perspective: “Here’s an interview with all the usual trappings of tech-bro culture: brash, unfounded confidence; sweeping, self-serving predictions; social analysis through (and only through) a Silicon Valley lens; and of course disruption, disruption, disruption.” Others criticized the interview’s focus on elite universities. Carl J. Strikwerda, former president of Elizabethtown College, wrote, “Every institution that Galloway mentions is part of a tiny elite, educating about 4 percent of students. How the elite gets educated is not a burning national issue. The crisis we face is how to provide a high-quality education to the neediest students: low income, part time, first generation, and minority. COVID and rising costs make it even harder to reach these students.” Josh Wyner, a VP at the Aspen Institute, agreed: “Astonishingly, Galloway fails to mention community colleges, even though they educate 40 percent of American undergraduates, far more than elite institutions will ever educate and at a fraction of the tuition … If our country is to develop the diverse talent needed to climb out of the coming recession and shape solutions to national and worldwide challenges, we cannot continue to ignore these engines of opportunity.”

2 National correspondent Gabriel Debenedetti wrote about Joe Biden’s vision of enacting a presidency more powerful than FDR’s (“Joe Biden Has a Very Bleak View of the Fall,” May 11–24). The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer tweeted, “This is the best policy news about the Biden campaign since it started.” Historian Robert Dallek, who has written a number of books on FDR, said, “Biden’s proposals would expand upon Roosevelt’s activism as well as that of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society—not only in making America prosperous again, but also a more humane society.” Others were not convinced of Biden’s leftward ambitions. Left-wing journalist Walker Bragman wrote, “This would be more convincing if Biden hadn’t voted for the Balanced Budget Amendment, weren’t being advised by Larry Summers and putting together a team of Republicans, and hadn’t spent decades trying to cut FDR’s signature achievement, Social Security.” In The New Republic, Osita Nwanevu wrote, “None of what he’s said and done thus far has laid the groundwork for the epochal shift in American politics he has implicitly promised.”

3 In “Eating,” Jerry Saltz examined his appetites, coping mechanisms, family, and love (May 11–24). The essay was widely praised for its vulnerability: The Times’ Lauren Kelley wrote, “I have no idea how to describe this piece of writing, but it’s remarkable.” Albert Burneko tweeted, “Jerry Saltz’s relationship to food couldn’t be more different from mine, but his writing about growing up as a semi-feral, shattered-home kid and trying to cobble together an adult life is deeply and almost embarrassingly familiar to me. This piece rules.” Kit Basquin called the essay “courageously honest, humble, personal, and creative.” Writing in the Observer, Helen Holmes said, “Saltz’s moving summary of his questionable consumption habits reminds us that as far as dependencies go, jumbo coffees are at least comparatively harmless. Plus, if coffee is helping someone self-soothe during a pandemic, all the better.” Art LaVeck wrote that Saltz’s essay motivated him to become a subscriber: “Mr. Saltz seems to me to personally embody the mission statement of New York Magazine. A former truck driver conveying art criticism in an enjoyable fashion, from a unique perspective, and void of pretension.”

4 Former Paramore front woman Hayley Williams spoke to Eve Barlow about her new album and her experience growing up on the pop-punk circuit (“Hayley Williams Never Thought She’d Be a Solo Artist,” May 11–24). Rose Dommu said, “Great interview, perfect sweet spot of a journalist who has done their research and is asking the right questions and a subject who is willing to be vulnerable.” And The Wall Street Journal’s Michael S. Derby wrote, “No personal attachment to Paramore, but even so this is a really great and illuminating interview.” @areelofonesown wrote, “This interview with Hayley Williams, and how she’s managed to come out okay despite growing up in a toxic industry, is so incredibly personal. Also, I realized she’s in her 30s now, so feeling old.”

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*This article appears in the May 11, 2020, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

Comments: Week of May 25, 2020