April 13, 2004

Letters to the Editor

Maroon Features

As former editors of the Maroon, we were very disappointed to read an article as replete with inane observations, trite quotations, and pseudo-scientific musings as last Tuesday's "Professors and Their Fan Clubs" (4/6/04). Primarily, we take issue with the disrespectful characterizations of Malynne Sternstein and J. Z. Smith in the article. Lila Pearl's observations are asinine, shallow, and uncharacteristic of the student body. For every student focused on the "image" of these professors, such as Pearl, there are 15 or 20 who take their courses for more substantive reasons: because they are excellent teachers who teach interesting subjects.

But the article's faults do not lie merely with the banal quotations of the interviewees, but with the tone of the rest of the article itself. Amy Conners sets it up as an exploration of a unique academic phenomenon, but the article both fails to amuse (as a humor piece might have) and fails to provoke intellectual curiosity. The most egregious evidence of the article's failures is the author's choice to print one student's insipid opinion that "humanities students areÂ…emotionally needy." Rather than having an ironic distance from such a facile interpretation, Conners seems to take it seriously.

The article manages to insult the student body and some of its best professors simultaneously. Stronger journalistic standards should be maintained at the Maroon, especially of articles written by editors.

Yoshi Salaverry and Nasia AnamFormer Voices Editors

Community relations

Although it is admirable that this school will devote two days to exploring community relations, I think that many of the students (including me) are under the impression that we can repair our less-than-stellar relations with the surrounding community with a few liberal comments. I wholeheartedly support such programs, but they miss the heart of the matter: We students are some of the most privileged people in the world, and we live amongst some of the poorest, most disadvantaged people in the country. It is difficult for me to accept suggestions such as "having a bus service to the El will distance us."

These are certainly valid and admirable claims, but they are wrongly rooted in the belief that a "quick fix" is imminent. As cynical as this may seem, it is absurd to believe that the solution is easy, considering that many local residents in our community go to bed worrying if they will have enough money to eat, while we go to bed worrying about which clothes we will wear tomorrow. So is this just a pessimistic rant? No. The huge divide between the University and the surrounding community is rooted in centuries of history; it is the result of direct and indirect social and economic oppression. To bridge the gap, we must go to the heart of this inequality and give our time and resources to neighborhood schools and outreach programs that seek to give every child in the South Side at least the hope of one day having what we have: unspeakable privilege.

Jeffrey Schonert

First-year in the College