April 23, 2004

Letters to the Editor

Elimidate had good intentions

I share the author's disappointment that some members of last week's audience at Eliminate Your Date were insufficiently mature to respectfully enjoy the "gay date" portion of the program ("Homophobia at the U of C Elimidate," 4/16/04). However, a criticism of the program in the context of a serious study of mass culture's relationship to sexual orientation would be misguided. Working with the program's producers, I made an intentional aesthetic decision to portray all four dates in an "over the top" fashion appropriate to a dating-show parody. Thus, I sincerely hope viewers did not find the three "straight dates" to be thoughtful or careful portrayals of heterosexuality either. They certainly were not intended as such. The decision to present one date as entirely staged rather than candid¬óreached by the actors, producers, and editors¬ówas based in entertainment, not in politics. A number of members of our cast and crew are gay or bisexual. We are aware of important ongoing dialogues concerning sexual stereotypes and gender politics. Many of us continue to make serious contributions to these conversations in other contexts. But the real story of Eliminate Your Date is that actors, filmmakers, and organizers donated their talent to draw and entertain a large audience in order to raise funds for charity, an objective in which we succeeded. Our program was admittedly unintelligent in its wielding of exaggerated stereotypes and physical comedy. Audience members were entitled to find these however entertaining (or not), but the joke is on those who therein found academic controversy where, truly, there was none.

Jonathan E. Cowperthwait

Director and Principal Editor

Eliminate Your Date

Fire Escape

Paying for the Chicago Initiative

As an aging alum with a pretty good memory when it comes to the University, I can't help but note the irony of this column ("The Chicago Initiative: Your Questions Answered," 3/5/04). Only five years ago, a coterie of students, urged on in their show of disrespect by fatuous faculty members, viciously attacked former University president Hugo Sonnenschein for mentioning the fact that this institution needed money in order to survive. It was a virtual feeding frenzy for faculty insulted by the idea that so crass a subject should enter any discussion about their mythical ivory tower.

Sonnenschein and Provost Stone were referred to as "bean counters" and worse by the very constituents, faculty, and students, who wanted more and better for themselves. And now, with the new dorms and magnificent Ratner Center (both projects of the Sonnenschein administration) built, the hissy fit seems to be over. In fact, students are downright happy with the idea that, perhaps, resources are needed in order for the institution to remain competitive. They want to help, which, of course, is as it should be! It's even OK, apparently, to say things like we need to be able to offer those enticements that will make us "comparable to, if not better than, our peer institutions."

Where were these voices five years ago when things were allowed to become so ugly? I know the current staff of the Maroon was not even around when all of this occurred, but I urge you, as journalists, to do a little homework on recent history. It was a terrible lesson in mob psychology at a time when a lot of people, particularly the ones who earn their living here, should have known better. I just hope that there are others out there who haven't forgotten the ugliness of not so long ago.

M. Levin

A.B., 1964

Shake Day isn't dying, it's already dead

This is a message from a fourth year, who used to be a first year, who spent all 100 of his first-year flex dollars on Shake Day milkshakes. I know and love Shake Day, and I have sad news. It is now the end of Shake Day as we know it. Rachel Levine's article "Aramark Shakes Wednesday Institution" (4/13/04), though quite humorous, failed to grapple with the key issues facing the future of Shake Day. Here are some facts to mull over. First, the Einstein's franchise in the C-Shop location lacks an ice cream service freezer (previously, the C-Shop had such a dipping freezer). Second, the Einstein's franchise lacks a large, worker-accessible refrigerator for storing milk. Third, every Wednesday, large tubs of ice cream are left melting on the work counter and gallon jugs of milk are left un-refrigerated on the same counter for extended periods of time. It does not take a very critical eye to see that this practice is unhygienic and may be exceptionally dangerous. I speak not out of personal concern of food poisoning (I've been known to drink milk that's been out of the fridge for a few hours), but rather out of concern that the Shake Day enterprise could be shut down by health inspectors.Levine is perfectly justified in lamenting the shrinking size of Shake Day shakes, but it is by no means the only problem with this so-called venerable tradition. Students should be upset about the shakes' smaller size, thinness, lack of flavor choice, lack of whipped cream, lack of 'nilla wafers, as well as the food handling concerns. Given the Einstein's/C-shop's new, ice cream-unfriendly configuration, it's obvious that they cannot support shake making at the quality they could my first year. By removing the ice cream serving facilities, they have made it impossible to safely and sanitarily handle large volumes of assorted flavors of ice creams, whipped cream, and milk.

Frankly, I am pessimistic about the future of Shake Day. Campus Dining is letting Shake Day continue as a decayed, twisted, pathetic "ooh lookie here, we have a tradition" tradition. This is wrong. They have taken the love out of Shake Day. What can Campus Dining, their advisors, and Aramark do? I fear the choices are few and drastic. First, a mere visit to the C-Shop on Shake Day and a one-time "recipe fix" will not cut it. The remaining choices are to remodel the C-Shop (again) to support ice cream dipping and shake production, to move the Shake Day operation to Bartlett (where adequate ice cream dipping facilities are available), or to let Shake Day go. I don't like any of these choices, but part of life is making the best of a rough shake. Campus Dining and Aramark need to recognize that in its current state, Shake Day is an embarrassment to the University. They need to make a choice: fix Shake Day, move Shake Day, or admit that Shake Day's sun has set on this campus.

Joe Levy

Fourth-year in the College