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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Mail Bag

    Unrealistic promises mar ASUA election

    As is the case every year, some Associated Students of the University of Arizona Senate candidates are making unrealistic promises to the student body. The major problem is that the average student voter is unaware of what exactly the senate does, and therefore is unable to know what promises are reasonable.

    The possibilities of the position are limitless in theory, but the capabilities of the senator are limited in practice. The senate has financial, political and time limitations, just to name a few. The senate is a relatively powerful body, and senators do have power to do great things.

    However, many of the promises that have been made during this campaign likely exceed the senate’s powers. For example, when a candidate promises to lower tuition or bring a big-name concert to campus, ask that candidate how such goals will be accomplished. These are promises that are unrealistic for senate candidates to fulfill. If a promise seems too good to be true, then very likely it is.

    No matter how great a goal might be, it does the student body no good when a senator spends the duration of the year pursuing a goal that never materializes. So, voters, be skeptical, and ask the candidates how they will achieve their promises. The first step to improving our student government is to ensure that candidates seek realistic and beneficial goals for the student body.

    Matt Loehman and Ryan Montana Erickson former ASUA senators

    ASUA can make a difference

    When I read the excellent article on the ASUA youth basketball league in Monday’s paper (“”Shooting for a cause””), I was reminded of why ASUA elections can make a difference.

    Eleven or so years ago, one of my students came to the office and told me he was going to run for a senate seat in ASUA. That student, Gahl Leddel, won that election, and he went on as a senator to implement an idea he had. They had a youth basketball league at his high school in Acadia, Calif., and he thought we should have one here.

    Thanks to his leadership and determination, the basketball league was established the following spring. Today, it is thriving, doing just what he hoped it would. Who says one person can’t make a difference?

    Jim Todd senior lecturer, political science department

    ‘Generation whine’ not grateful for UA opportunities

    What is going on with students this year? Janet Lancaster thinks that her tuition buys her the right to do anything she wants in class, as if professors are salespeople who must bow to her every whim (“”Profs: Consider students paying customers””).

    This idea of consumerism as somehow being attached to her status as a student is inherently flawed; you are paying for the right to sit in a class and learn, which is governed by a set of rules called the Student Code of Conduct. Rule No. 11 of the Prohibited Conduct section states: Interfering with university or university-sponsored activities, including but not limited to classroom related activities, studying, teaching, research, intellectual or creative endeavor, administration, service or the provision of communication, computing or emergency services.

    Paying tuition does not give you the right to do anything you desire in class; it earns you the privilege to participate in university classes and activities. If you want to pay for a degree that does not require you to actually perform by attending classes, listening attentively and turning in assignments and being respectful to the person conducting the class, then I suggest you attend one of the thousands of mail-order colleges which will gladly take your money and print you a diploma.

    Ashley Davis (“”UA ideal for binge drinking, not academics””) thinks that just because her experience with UA students is marred by people with obvious issues prioritizing their schedules around partying, the UA is somehow not a “”gem”” of a school. Last time I checked, the UA was ranked in the top 100 of all schools in the nation (public and private).

    It’s too bad that her “”awakening”” did not include a realization that broad generalizations are seldom ever true. Davis questions how anyone would have to spend six or seven years to get their undergrad degree. Davis’ inexperience and immaturity do not allow her to empathize with students who may not have the opportunity to “”waste”” their parents’ money as she did, because they may not be on their parents’ dime and therefore have to earn a living while attending one of the top 100 universities in the United States.

    You say you are leaving; good riddance to you. I wholeheartedly agree with increasing the standards for admission to the UA; by making it harder to get in, perhaps more students would appreciate their experience and stop their incessant whining.

    Dan Anglin UA alumnus

    Moderate drinking can have benefits

    After reading the “”UA ideal for binge drinking, not academics”” letter on Monday, I wondered if the author was either a troglodyte or was home-schooled and lived in semi-seclusion until she commenced her college career, because I was under the impression that in today’s society, it is no surprise that the practice of students imbibing alcohol liberally whilst attending a public university is not classified information.

    While I do not advocate that everyone should drink, the judgmental and condescending implications included by Ashley Davis negate the fact that functional alcoholics have and will continue to impact society positively (i.e., Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt).

    As far as UA failing to prepare students for the “”real world”” by not reprimanding those who “”tap a keg at a party this weekend,”” this is just nonsense because in the “”real world”” there is no mom and dad/nanny figure to ensure that alumni stay in line, regardless of whether alcohol or another factor is inhibiting their success. Perhaps learning this lesson in college is better than learning it after graduation, no matter how long this accomplishment takes.

    Perhaps if she took a look at the “”real world”” before applying to the UA, Ashley Davis would have realized that her teetotaling ideas would have had a much larger impact if she donated the $40,000 she wasted on college to a neo-prohibitionist organization such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) or VOAI (Victory Over Addiction International), instead of trying to degrade fellow students in the school paper.

    Just a side note, before transferring to Harvard, Ashley may want to know that this highly esteemed institution, along with the Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association and Swiss, Japanese, French and British governments all have medical reports that say drinking in moderation is quite good for you.

    Mark Nesdill sociology junior

    Wikipedia no substitute for real learning

    Anthony Mills writes that he has no need to speak with a philosopher or historian because, if he wants to learn about their subjects, he can simply turn to the Internet (“”Engineering more ‘useful’ than liberal arts””). This is a common misconception.

    Mills confuses access to information with conceptual understanding. Knowing a subject, whether it be the history of the Civil War or the arguments of Immanuel Kant, means having both extensive knowledge and an intellectual framework for that knowledge. Facts without context are just so much nonsense.

    So how does one acquire a context? The most direct way is to spend time in the presence of a person who has lived with the material long enough to have a basis for weighing and appraising new ideas and newly discovered evidence. A gifted teacher possesses not only expertise but also the powers of evaluation that come with having assimilated and reflected on a body of knowledge.

    Such a teacher uses the classroom not merely to disseminate information but also to guide students in ways of knowing. By observing a disciplined mind in action, a student acquires the ability to assess evidence, make judgments and draw conclusions. Surely, this is a central goal of education, and I doubt that it can be achieved by staring at a computer screen.

    When I see a student slumped in front of a computer for hours, I doubt that much education is going on. As a student, much of what I learned came from interaction with others – my teachers and fellow students. The week I received my doctorate, I told my mentor that perhaps most of what I learned in graduate school came from testing my ideas and assumptions with other students while enjoying a coffee or beer. He replied, “”It’s always that way in a good program.””

    The heart of education, it seems to me, consists of the sharing and challenging that happens when people gather around a table and speak their minds. Is Wikipedia a substitute for real education?

    Frederick Kiefer professor of English

    Wage hike hurts those it’s supposed to help

    So it’s been four months since Arizona voted to raise minimum wage and guess what? Prices are going up! What a freakin’ surprise.

    Ask any economist: Raising the minimum wage is the stupidest idea ever. All it does is raise inflation and the standard of living. Therefore, the people who are making minimum wage are just going to be right back were they started when they were making $5.15 but those of us who didn’t get our wages increased will actually be making less than we were.

    How is that possible, you ask? It is because money will be worth less than it was when the minimum wage was $5.15, thanks to inflation. Raising minimum wage is also unfair to those of us who make more than minimum wage, but I guess voters were not thinking clearly on Election Day.

    Daniel Davidson history senior

    Autism research more complex than presented

    After reading the Monday “”Point/Counterpoint”” in which Dr. Waldman’s release of his paper “”Does Television Cause Autism?”” was discussed, I am slightly concerned about the investigative abilities of students at this fine institution. The two columnists, while quite zealous in their discussion, seem to have read only the Associated Press wire feed about the controversy surrounding the research but not the actual research itself.

    I suppose this is understandable since the paper is approximately 44 pages. However, the columnists both comment on the importance of properly peer-reviewing and interpreting research. Ms. Wertz in particular mentions that students “”need to analyze the methods employed in that research.””

    If a few moments of quiet study had been utilized to analyze, as Ms. Wertz suggests, the instrumental variables approach employed by Dr. Waldman, it might have been discovered that Dr. Waldman did not find a direct correlation between autism rates and early childhood television viewing. What was found was a positive correlation between autism and precipitation rates and between autism and cable subscriptions.

    By Dr. Waldman’s own admission, the study does not definitively prove his hypothesis, as no study has ever actually proved any hypothesis. He presents his hypothesis as a possible explanation for the correlations he found, in keeping with the standard psychological research method of rejecting the null hypothesis, being that there was no correlation.

    Considering the rather presumptuous ivory-tower view expressed by Ms. Wertz that “”we as college students have the responsibility to educate others on how to examine research.”” It would be helpful if, in the process of criticizing the research, we students were to actually review the research in question, and not an annotated version presented by non-experts in the journalism field.

    While wire reports and blogs are much shorter and use fewer big words and explanations than scientific papers, one can hardly profess to understand, and through understanding, criticize the methodologies behind research (especially complicated statistical analysis) without actually reading them. Besides, would it really hurt our young children under the age of three (the group the study focused on) to watch little or no television?

    Chris L. Earnest geosciences senior

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