November 22, 2004

Letters to the Editor


Thank you for your article on Tuesday regarding Career and Planning Services (CAPS) ("For some students, CAPS fails to get the job done," 11/16/04). One thing bothered me, though: Kat Glass's use of anonymous sources for the article seems quite inappropriate. I'll leave aside the awkward locutions this produced in the article (though God knows what Glass would have done had either both been male or both been female). What bothers me is the description of her second anonymous source as a "female fourth-year in the College, granted anonymity to criticize CAPS." Perhaps Glass views these two students as noble whistleblowers, risking their jobs to speak the truth. But there is no reason for these students to fear retribution from CAPS. I should even go so far as to say that, if these students are unwilling to attach their names to their critique, they have no business making it, and Glass has no business reporting it. Was she unable to find sources willing to identify themselves on record as having such complaints? Quite frankly, I find the idea laughable.

This is sad because Glass reports a worthwhile story. There is a terrible lack of any institutional support for students to place themselves in the workforce immediately after graduation from the College (physics, my own department, is particularly negligent in this regard). The common perception is that CAPS fills this void. The reality, as Glass's reporting purports to show, is that CAPS fails with bewildering thoroughness.

Colin McFaul

Fourth-year in the College

New dorm

I was a bit alarmed by the rhetoric of Ryan Uricks's November 16 article ("Planning for our southern expansion"). "[O]ur southern expansion"? It even sounds a bit like: "It was [The University of Chicago's] manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the [South Side] which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us." Put plainly: Viewing the area south of the Midway as a giant, blank hole, and the University's duty to that area as not much more than filling it with commerce, is a pretty offensive proposition. Perhaps, when we talk about the University's influence on surrounding communities, we shouldn't sound as if we're planning a military expedition.

Mike Tung

Second-year in the college

While I share Ryan Uricks's hope that the new dorm south of the Midway will fit with B-J's Gothic architecture and improve upon some aspects of Max Palevsky, I don't agree at all with the development he proposes for the area around the new dorm ("Planning for our southern expansion," 11/16/04). In addition to his suggestions that the University "expand retail opportunities" and include "new restaurants and stores," he calls for "a second Reynold's Club…complete with dining facilities á la Hutch, study areas, group space, coffee shops, and a fitness center."

I am disappointed that Uricks sees these measures as the way to "ensure a vibrant community south of the Midway." In fact, one already exists. Though you'd never know it from his article, its name is Woodlawn, not "south campus." In case he didn't notice on what he admitted was his only trip south of the Midway as a prospie, Woodlawn is neither entirely devoid of retail stores and restaurants, nor is it full of open fields waiting for University development.

Many community activists are working to bring more businesses to Woodlawn. They recognize the complexity of encouraging development while maintaining important community institutions and protecting the neighborhood's affordable housing, which is already disappearing. I hope that Uricks and the University will support their efforts, rather than imposing a certain vision of development on the neighborhood for student convenience.

Kathleen Rubenstein

Third-year in the College

Middle East panel

I read Tim Michael's article on the recent panel discussion "Examining National Identity: Nationalism, Transnationalism, and the Future of the Middle East" ("Frustrated by Mid East discourse, Sassen storms from panel," 11/12/04) with dismay.

There was no mention in the article of the personal attacks made by a couple of the panelists against each other. I was alarmed by the nature of these panelists' presentations, which included some very corrosive remarks on Nazi Germany and bin Laden being offensively employed to discredit the opposing position. I was surprised to read Student Committee on the Middle East (SCME) organizer Rita Koganzon's response defending the event. There was nothing "civil" about the panel discussion at all, certainly nothing intellectually new either in content or form. Indeed, whatever important points may have been addressed were lost in the vitriolic criticisms that ensued. It was encouraging to see Sassen refuse to participate in this type of uncivil discourse rather than encourage the name calling that was trying to pass for serious and reasoned argument. I too was interested in seeing real dialogue between the participants, who naturally should hold competing views, but I was disappointed to witness a barrage of inflammatory statements rather than serious intellectual disagreement. Nothing said at the event was more powerful than Sassen's refusal to engage in a public display of ad hominem attacks, which itself constitutes a serious demand for real dialogue.

Eric Gamazon

M.S. 1991

War in Iran

I am writing in response to the unmitigated and uneducated attacks on me and my call for the liberation of Iran ("Letters to the Editor," 1/19/04).

First, I would like to respond to the authors' whining about Bush's victory and trying to minimize its importance. In our country, a president governs by the mandate of the people, which is determined by an election. Bush was the undisputed victor in the last election, and thus, Bush has the "mandate" of the people. I know it's tough to concede Bush has a "mandate," but just because your post-election trauma counselor says his margin of victory (not to mention the expansion of his party's control of the Senate) discounts a mandate doesn't make it so.

Next, though space previously limited me from fully discussing our work in Iraq and Afghanistan and how it relates to Iran, I would now like to further address the claims that America cannot wage another localized military campaign and that it is completely tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rogers and Long have no idea what America's forces are capable of, and I doubt they even know the number of active duty troops America has throughout the world. If we have to take military action in Iran, which I think we do, we can. Since the fall of the USSR, America's military has been designed and maintained to fight two major conflicts on opposite sides of the world. It took creativity and cunning to plan the liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and while Rogers and Long appear to lack that ingenuity, the Pentagon does not.

The important thing is to see that our situations in Iraq and Afghanistan are linked directly with the status of Iran. Instead of seeing Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran as separate in America's overseas activities, we need to understand that they are all part of the same campaign (not "crusade" as Rogers says), and our efforts in one will not succeed without success in the others.

I would also like to point out that Rogers or Long do not dispute any of my four main contentions for liberating Iran through military action. They merely go on a bigoted tirade, moaning and groaning about the unlikely institution of a draft and Bush's victory, and spout personal insults. They cannot make one solid, substantiated claim or counterargument, nor do they even address the issue of Iran. Who would you want running your foreign policy?

Feliks Pleszczynski

Viewpoints Staff

Voting trends

Barney Keller's column is usually pretty disagreeable, but this week, it was painful ("Could liberalism be dying in America?" 11/16/04). He tries to tell us what he thinks Americans outside of New England value, and why they reject East Coast candidates and culture because they have more important concerns. He talks about New England—and I can't blame him, because so does our president—as a place devoid of moral values that wants to ban religion and take your guns. Our president says he spends so much time at his "ranch" not to avoid work but to get in touch with "real Americans," because, of course, people on the coast are faking it. In fact, almost no "real Americans" live on ranches; they are playthings of the wealthy. The vast majority of real Americans live in cities and suburbs, and no, I don't think they hate God.

He stipulates that, "If I were trying to make ends meet in New Mexico, I would not care that Bruce Springsteen thinks we should vote for John Kerry…If I were trying to support my family in Iowa…If I were a working class person from Ohio…" and it goes on this way. I have been to Keller's promised land—in fact, I am from a family trying to make ends meet in New Mexico—and I can speak beyond the hypothetical about what people there want. And what they want has nothing to do with the philosophical difference between justice and equality; they save that for presumptuous columnists in far-off cities. We just want better jobs and cheaper health insurance. As for Bruce Springsteen, we like his music.

What we really resent is when a Connecticut-born, Andover-Yale-Harvard-educated Northeasterner tells us that we can't vote for a guy from Massachusetts because he doesn't share our values. We resent Bush because he does a lot for the "real Americans" who can afford ranches, but not much for the rest of us.

Walter Lamberson

Second-year in the College

Division III athletics

In half-heartedly trying to convince my younger brother to become a Maroon three years ago, I mentioned he could have easily secured a starting position on the football team. (He was a high school star.) He smiled graciously, and today, has done slightly better.

Look next week for the walk-on with a 3.9+ GPA in mechanical engineering starting on kickoff coverage for the University of Notre Dame. He will be in Los Angeles, playing the University of Southern California.

If there is anything that being out of the U of C for half a year has taught me, it is that style does not always follow substance, and that fancy Latin and waxing anachronism certainly do not fall into the latter category.

He is number 81.

Patrick Woods

B.S. 1994

Queer issues

The line that distinguishes between a discrete classification and a broad recognition is a very vague one. Figuring out where this distinction takes place is worth considering in light of the points raised by John Gabriel's article ("Recent University diversity statement misses queer community," 11/19/04). He recognizes the value that the University places on diversity, but criticizes the University for not explicitly extending "resources, support, and visible, obvious allies" to the queer community. This is absolutely unnecessary.

The University specifically recognizes that the "dimensions of race, gender, ethnicity and national origin" are particularly deserving of attention in its Diversity Statement. Accordingly, the Office of Minority Student Affairs (OMSA) is charged with serving the African, Latino, Asian, and Native American populations. However, it is worth observing that the OMSA directives do not specify explicit commitments to students of a particular gender or national origin. This is an elegant, even if hard to see, example of the distinction with which I began this letter. The University can recognize and value the diversity of a student group without setting forth a plan for catering to its discrete classification and resource network. This is, in fact, ideal. A united student body, and one that uniformly accepts its members and has universal access to resources and support, should be the goal implied by striving to achieve a diverse campus. Such a campus should not be envisioned as the union of a fixed branching of student minority subsets, but rather as a cohesive whole. The groups OMSA is charged to support are there because they are, and have historically been proven to be, particularly disadvantaged on our campus. In general and as well as my three and a third years here can attest to, students who are female, foreign, queer, southern, mute, cross-dressing, blind, crippled, and even polka-dotted are all respected and treated as equals on campus, and this is something of which to be very proud. Seeking to section off any one of these groups as deserving of particular attention, when in fact the group is accepted and healthy, is both demeaning to the student body and potentially harmful to the group itself. It would run the risk of putting forth an image of desperation and need that consequentially may reinforce any existing negative perception of that group.

Strength and unity need to be prioritized, not despite, but especially in light of, diversity values. The goal of diversity, as the University clearly understands it, is inclusion not exclusion. If anyone actually does need a helping hand right now, it is probably those daring enough to publicly support the Bush administration.

James Waters

Fourth-year in the College