The article ```Living Room' Lures Collegians,'' Nov. 26, stresses the importance of social integration as part of a college education. One of the problems in colleges today seems to be that too much empahsis is placed on grades and not enough is placed on broadening students' horizons. While it is important to deal with texts and class discussions, a real-life experience stands out and puts a subject into perspective. Programs like the one held at the Athenaeum of Claremont McKenna College are what our universities need to strike the proper balance between academics and social education. It would be admirable if all colleges offered such programs. Unfortunately, most students are rarely offered opportunities to hear today's leaders, and when we are, it is not on such a personal basis or in an atmosphere as conducive to learning as the one offered in the Athenaeum.
Programs like Claremont McKenna's can change this. By allowing students almost total control of the projects (who is to speak, and when they are to speak), the college encourages development of communication skills. The article says we are the ``leaders of tomorrow,'' but how will we lead if we are taught only to follow? T. Osborn, Burnsville, Miss.
Commit to kids The opinion-page column ``Commitment to Children's Rights,'' Nov. 30, states that ``The United States should be able to commit ... unconditionally to the premise that children ... should be entitled to a special care and protection as a matter of democratic principle.''
If the leaders of 71 nations can agree to a declaration of survival, protection, and development of children, why should the US be the only holdout? Aren't we already doing more in this respect than most of the 71 signatory nations? Clark G. Taylor, W. Yarmouth, Mass.
Myths of mental illness Regarding the opinion-page column ``National Service, Anyone?,'' Nov. 29: I find it offensive that the author chooses an imaginary mental hospital to dramatize the possible inequities of William F. Buckley Jr.'s proposed national service. The author says, ``But Joe Six-pack of Fort Smith, Ark., might find his little girl scrubbing toilets in the Little Rock Home for the Incurably Insane....''
Perpetuating the stigma of mental illness such as this creates barriers for mentally ill people and their families.
The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in Arlington, Virginia recently published a brochure entitled, ``Mental Illness ... Information for Writers,'' which would be invaluable to the author and all writers in film, television, or print media to help them develop a better understanding and greater sensitivity to this difficult and complex problem. The Rev. Paul E. Beavers, Newtown, Conn., Director, Chaplaincy Services, Fairfield Hills Hospital
Seattle flooding not so severe News Currents, Nov. 27, states, ``Weeks of rain and melting snow inundated Seattle....'' However, it was only days of unusual, warm, tropical downpours that caused disastrous flooding in Western Washington valleys. Seattle is built on hills.
I must add, however, that clear cutting, too many ``view'' subdivisions, and unwise building on flood plains all contributed to the severity of the flood damage mentioned in the piece. Mary S. Grafious, Seattle, Wash.