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i found the cover story “shell of a town” (9/29) saddening, mean-spirited, and one-sided. While College Park does indeed face many challenges, David Morton failed to paint a true picture of life in College Park. He must not have spent much time there if he couldn’t find any University of Maryland students whose vocabulary extended beyond epithets and stereotypes. What about Maryland’s Nobel laureates and Fields medalist? Or how about just the average bright, well-spoken undergrad—of which there are thousands? I fear Morton simply failed to report any of those positive interactions in the service of his “story.” And while Route 1 may lack the charm of Franklin Street in Chapel Hill or University Avenue in Charlottesville, to claim that this is what will keep Maryland from joining America’s elite public universities is shortsighted and wrong. College Park’s location inside the Beltway should be seen as a boon, not an albatross. Washington, D.C., attracts the best minds in the world. Having the capital of the free world just down the street gives the University of Maryland advantages that no other public research university can offer.

And by the way, David Morton’s reporting of how the riots started in College Park was wrong and gives a false impression of the spirit of student life at Maryland. The first “riot” actually occurred in February of 2000 after a Maryland men’s basketball victory at Duke. There were no arrests, no injuries, and minimal property damage, though thousands of students participated. It was a spontaneous event born of joy, camaraderie, and school pride—all things that David Morton would lead you to believe don’t exist in College Park. I just wish before you published “Shell of a Town” you had thought about all the thousands of us that love College Park and will forever hold it in our hearts—both the good and the bad.

Arlington, Va.