Regarding the article "Dorms Designed to Lure Students," Sept. 9: A sizable number of colleges and universities have had spaces available for several years, often in spite of such sophisticated new dormitory designs. Some residence halls have been converted to other uses.Parents may not be doing their college-age children a favor by helping them enjoy an adult lifestyle while in college. Consider the traditional student lifestyle: group living, shared transportation, limited funds for clothes, travel, and entertainment, and a focus on scholarly pursuits. In contrast, many students today drive expensive cars, wear designer clothes, vacation in distant places, enjoy frequent and costly parties, and live in spacious apartments or houses. To attain these things, students often work long hours while still carrying a full academic load. Study time evaporates with grocery shopping, cooking, and other nonacademic diversions. A simpler and humbler lifestyle is essential. Studies have shown that living in a residence hall establishes the type of peer-group identity and academic goal setting that significantly helps toward successful completion of a university degree. Students who limit their lifestyle expectations will have more time to pursue their educational goals. Michael B. Hoctor, San Diego
Family leave unfair Regarding the editorial "Family Leave Revisited," Sept. 26: Why should businesses be required to provide for what is private and personal responsibility? Why do many Americans feel that government or employers should make it easy and convenient for them to have the lifestyle they desire? My experience indicates that substitute workers would not be hired for three or four months, so the fellow workers of those on family leave (who may never take such leave themselves) would have to bear the burden. This hardly seems fair. Emily C. McWilliams, Shreveport, La.
In defense of US automakers The opinion-page article "Detroit Misses the Mark, Again," Aug. 19, is extreme in its vitriolic, unbalanced, and often inaccurate attack on the US automobile industry. As manager of a task force making a major study of the role of motor vehicles in 1975 and 1976, I had many meetings with executives and technical personnel in the automotive industry. Most agreed with the conclusions of the report, which included the prospect of a fleet average of 27 miles per gallon by 1985. The industry did not take the position that improved fuel economy was "absolutely impossible." The authors state that "in safety the Big Three have cloaked their record of delinquency, obstruction, and delay in the mantle of 'free consumer choice and they accuse the industry of fighting the air bag. The industry resisted the air bag primarily for two reasons: It would not protect occupants as well as the lap-shoulder harness in non-head-on accidents, and the lap-shoulder harness would provide broader protection at far less cost to the consumer. The fact is that they had spent considerable sums of money over many years studying how to make cars safer and adopting the results. The authors would have had a better case if they had accused the industry of being slow in improving quality control and reliability and slow in learning how to build good small cars. Hamilton Herman, New Canaan, Conn.