Letter: Student Leader Awards not worth the gripe

By Letter to the Editor

I wanted to compliment you on publishing an op-ed as reactionary and implausibly reasoned as Rebecca Shi, Tsion Gurmu, and Cristina Perez’s recent article concerning Student Leader Awards (“Award Culture,” 5/30/08). Aside from [providing] thin anecdotal evidence for the contributions made by over-funded cultural organizations to life on campus and overestimating the benefits of Student Leader Awards, the authors unconvincingly argue that Student Leader Awards are given to “social justice/political” RSO leaders at the expense of cultural ones, as if these are the only two types of groups on campus. Do you know who else was not recognized? Kat Glass and other editors at the Maroon, who have finally made the paper something representative of the institution we believe the U of C to be. (Though I know the Maroon is not an RSO in the technical sense, this does not mean its leaders are not valuable contributors to campus life, another argument that Shi et al. could have also effectively rendered but didn’t.) Shi et al.’s op-ed dubiously deploys charges of cultural discrimination in an article that is basically sour grapes.

About the only thing the article got right was that Student Leader Awards tend to recognize students who are already pets of the administration, in which case cultural RSO leaders should be proud they were not recognized as tool bags and in turn celebrate their (relative) independence. In addition, Shi et al. should be comforted by the student body’s own ability to reason for itself. I know who my student leaders are and how they contribute to campus life, and my selections rarely correspond with the administration’s.

John Thompson

Class of 2008