LETTERS

  /  

April 9, 2004

Letters to the Editor

Independent Women's Forum

Normally I tend to ignore the self-serving rants and misinformation that are bandied about so readily during the election season, but when I saw the full-page ad in the April 6 Maroon by the so-called Independent Women's Forum, I felt the need to point out what I call the "top ten things the IWF says to skew reality."

The first three allegations of the advertisement basically amount to the claim that "the liberals have taken over education," but the facts don't quite support what they claim. That 70 percent of professors "express their political opinions in class" basically means nothing, since it doesn't at all prove that professors "push" their opinions. Still more troubling is the assertion that liberal professors are somehow prevalent on the basis that a third of students describe their professors as "somewhat or extremely liberal," whatever that means. Given that this leaves two-thirds of students who don't consider their professors liberal at all, it becomes hard to believe the ominous all-caps proclamation that "liberal opinions dominate."

The rest of the ad is riddled with so many logical errors and examples of intellectual dishonesty that it would even embarrass Art Bell. They cite a poll claiming 24 percent of students have viewpoints different from those of their professors as proof that "they hinder open and honest discussion," when there is zero evidence of any kind that professors do anything but encourage students to think for themselves. I, for one, would be appalled if students fell in lockstep with their professors' opinions, liberal or otherwise.

The ultra-reactionary bias of the IWF is legendary, which may explain why they chose to publish a set of arguments so utterly deficient in reason. Case in point: the IWF opposed the passage of the Violence Against Women Act on the ideological grounds that the act promoted a worldview in which domestic abuse was a problem. The same kind of indifference to conditions in reality characterizes the focus of their organization: they would rather harp on problems that they invent than combat real, substantive issues that affect contemporary women.

Harry Schmidt

Second-year in the College

Student Global AIDS Campaign

Our group, the Student Global AIDS Campaign, has been criticized from many sides for our decision to fill the botany pond with 6,000 red ribbons, representing the number of people age 15 to 24 who become infected with HIV every day ("Ribbons in Botany Pond Remember Victims of AIDS," 4/6/04). People have accused us of being irresponsible and destructive. I wanted to take this opportunity to set the record straight.

Despite what many people have assumed, in fact we did give long and careful thought to whether the botany pond would be an acceptable and safe place for us to put our ribbon display. As a group, we discussed it extensively and secured permission from several people in the facilities department. Our assumption was that people in the facilities department were in communication with the biologists who manage the pond—unfortunately we were wrong. On Monday morning we were very surprised to come across facilities crews dragging our ribbons, which had taken us many hours to create, out of the pond.

The fact is that we did everything we could have done in advance to make sure that there would be no problem, and no one on campus is as upset about what happened as we are. We are glad that the situation has been resolved to the point where we as a group can refocus our energy towards what we believe is a far more outrageous travesty—the bleak prospects of those 6,000 young people that the ribbons represent.

Emily Churchman

President

Student Global AIDS Campaign