Letters to the Editor – 03.02.04

By Letters from Readers

Promontory Point

This letter was originally addressed to Alderman Leslie Hairston and the Promontory Point User Community. We, the undersigned 265 residents of Hyde Park/Kenwood and users of Promontory Point, are writing to express our concern over the future of the Point. Since January of 2001, members of the community have worked hard to persuade the City and the Park District to modify their plans for the revetment at the Point. This hard work has paid off handsomely. The Park District has now offered a plan that calls for reuse of all of the existing limestone in the top steps of the revetment and to provide water access. In addition, the Park District has pledged to restore the original Caldwell landscaping. This plan is aesthetically pleasing, respects the past, and provides better water access than the current revetment. In addition, it meets Army Corps engineering standards, which are required for funding. The Park District has indicated that this is as far as they will go in terms of meeting demands for limestone-based plans. Members of the Executive Committee of the Point Task Force have not accepted this plan. The city and the Army Corps of Engineers have taken the position that they will not go ahead without community approval. The $22 million appropriated for the Point in 2004 has been shifted to other projects. We need to act now if we are to have a chance at 2005 funds. 2005 is the final year of funding for the shoreline protection project. The initiative is ours. We will lose a good plan and the funding for this plan if we do not act now. To delay further is irresponsible. This will only mean that nothing will be done to preserve the Point. We urge you, as our elected representative, to act immediately to save the Point by adopting the new plan offered by the City.Editor’s note: The 265 co-signers’ names were withheld due to space constraints. The full list of names can be viewed at: http://gsbwww.uchicago.edu/fac/peter.rossi/more/open_letter_hairston.

The Chicago Initiative

On Wednesday, University of Chicago President Don M. Randel sent a campus-wide e-mail lauding the entire U of C community for helping to raise more than $1 billion in funds for the “Chicago Initiative.” This is an astounding sum and the fact that it was raised so quickly is truly impressive. However, for the hundreds of hospital and University janitors who have been fighting for a fair contract, surely this news must be a slap in the face. The school and Hospital recently cut the pension plan for around 700 workers as well as making them now pay hundreds of dollars per year for healthcare, when it previously had been completely paid for. Perhaps President Randel can explain to the community why the valuable workers who clean our classrooms and hospital can’t reap some of the benefits of this $1 billion? After all, according to the e-mail, the windfall “enables us to strengthen our investment in people…and in programs to address the human and social needs in the community beyond the University.” What about the human needs of the U of C janitors?

Alex Wolf

Student in the College

Robert Maynard Hutchins

Your proposal to rename the Administration Building after Robert Maynard Hutchins (“Give Hutchins His Due,” 2/24/02) is a backhanded honor at best. Naming the “brutal eyesore” that is the Administration Building after Hutchins hardly fulfills the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of showing “high respect, esteem, or reverence.” Or was that your actual intent? Some of the policies and achievements mentioned were really Max Mason’s; others weren’t practical in the real world; still others sounded like good ideas but simply weren’t. In any case, buildings should have permanent names—we are not Northwestern University. We shouldn’t honor someone by re-naming a building that we hope will go away at some point! Finally, it should be noted that Cobb Hall is named after Silas B. Cobb, a wealthy donor, and not Henry Ives Cobb, who merely has Cobb Gate named after him.

John J. W. Plampin

A.B., 1988

Pro-life advertising supplement

On Tuesday, the University was greeted, as it has been periodically for several years running, with a special insert in the Maroon courtesy of the Human Life Alliance. Starting with a cover page that looks like a Sunday shopping serial, then moving to an opening page extolling “[facing…] questions honestly, rationally, and cautiously,” the remaining pages of the 12-page supplement quickly devolve into a series of misleading statements ranging from vague insinuations to outright lies. While we recognize that the Maroon is not taking it upon itself to advocate such extreme positions, we expect the Maroon not to be a hired clearinghouse for counterfactual information. With this in mind, our feeling is that the attacks on Planned Parenthood and the “abortion industry” particularly, in their dishonesty and viciousness, fit our standard for inflammatory language and defamation. In keeping with the Maroon’s policy, as stated in an editorial one year ago this week (Editor’s Response, 2/28/03), that the newspaper should not be used to “promote hatred of any person or group, for any reason,” we feel that the advertisement willfully maligns the aforementioned groups.

On page 9 of the insert, there is the outrageous claim that Planned Parenthood has, for the majority of the last century, acted in a campaign to exterminate minority populations, and that they are an arm of an organization credited with the rise of Jim Crow, Nazism, and apartheid. Sterilization abuse and unequal access to all healthcare services are continuing problems in our society, but Planned Parenthood is not responsible for them and is certainly not involved in any racist conspiracies. In sum, the effect of a claim like this is to play upon anxieties about class, race, and gender to hatefully smear individuals, organizations, and even entire professions.

This is only one example of the many egregious deviations from honesty, rationality, and caution in the pamphlet. Given that we fear that the producers of the ad in question are unlikely to even read this edition of the newspaper that they underwrote, we encourage an ongoing dialogue on campus on these crucial matters.

Bethany Strout, Lucas Alvarez, Brianna

Benner, Alex Reusing, and Emily Zilber

Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance


We would like to express our alarm at the Human Life Alliance’s advertising supplement in the February 24 issue of the Maroon. While we value free speech and would not condemn a pro-life article by a community member, an advertisement that dismisses women’s political struggles and offers appallingly misleading facts is entirely different.

With respect to women’s rights, the article stated, “Women are breaking through glass ceilings everywhere, surpassing the number of men in college, in law and medical schools. Just look at sports—basketball, soccer, hockey, and wrestling. We’ve come too far to reduce a woman’s ‘right’ to mean the ‘right to abortion.'” Women’s advances in academia and sports—areas, in fact, still plagued by sexism—are cited as if to suggest that women’s control over their bodies is now somehow superfluous. The HLA’s faulty logic invalidates the women’s movement it professes to support.

Another upsetting assertion was that abortion is dangerous: “An aborted baby, the potential for cervical cancer, the possibility of becoming infertile, so where’s the safe part?” Yet according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, less than 0.5 percent of abortions have complications, and the risk of death from abortion is one-tenth that of childbirth.

Equally alarming was the suggestion that abortion is an exploitative, profit-driven business. If this were so, the number of clinics would be far greater. There is actually a dearth of abortion providers: the AGI states that 90 percent of Illinois counties lack one, and there are only 37 in the state.

Yet the most offensive claim was, “Historical documents prove that Planned Parenthood acted as the willful arm of the American Eugenics Society.” The outrageous argument is that Planned Parenthood targets its services to minorities in order to eliminate certain races. The truth is that Planned Parenthood generously seeks to provide low-cost reproductive health care to women, thus explaining its focus on low-income areas.

In conclusion, we feel that the HLA’s insert was inflammatory, not informative, and therefore had no place in the Maroon.

Sarah Birgé

Sulin Carling

Chris Englund

Dan Schnitzer

We would like to address concerns raised regarding emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) in the “Emergency Contraception: An Advertising Deception” advertising insert (2/24/04). ECPs have been shown to be both safe and effective, not only in clinical studies but also in widespread use in the United States over the past years. We would like to offer additional information to help women make informed decisions regarding their use and safety. Prescription and over the counter availability of ECPs is supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Women’s Medical Association, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, the American Nurses Association, and the Family Planning Council, among many others.

Some of the information listed in the article is misleading and incomplete. Listed below are some clarifications regarding ECPs:

•ECPs have been shown in several clinical studies to inhibit or delay ovulation. Their ability to alter the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) to inhibit implantation is unclear, as clinical data have both supported and refuted this inhibition.

•ECPs are clinically safe. According to the World Health Organization, the only absolute contraindication to use of ECPs is confirmed pregnancy, simply because ECPs will not work if a woman is pregnant.

•ECPs have decreased the need for pregnancy termination. According to a 2002 study in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, as many as 51,000 abortions were averted in the United States.

One of every two women aged 15-44 in the United States has experienced at least one unintended pregnancy. Emergency contraceptive pills, whether estrogen-progestin or progestin alone, are safe, effective and simple. ECPs reduce the risk of pregnancy by 75 to 88 percent. Making ECPs more widely available in the United States by providing over the counter availability would reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy and the consequent need for abortion. We encourage anyone with questions regarding contraceptive options to contact their health care provider.

Carol Mueller Odell, RN, MSN


Associate Director

Sarah A. Van Orman, MD

Medical Director

Kelley Carameli, MS, CHES

Health Education Specialist

Student Care Center