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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Mail Bag

    Teachers human, can’t always hide opinions

    Thanks to Dr. Hogle for speaking out against the bill that would ban teacher “”advocacy”” (“”Bill would ban teacher ‘advocacy'””). While I recognize the issue to which this responds, we as an institution have to recognize the danger this presents to education – both to students and teachers.

    This bill would make any knowledge about a teacher’s personal life dangerous to her or him; if a student happens to accidentally encounter a teacher off campus, perhaps participating in “”advocacy,”” and tells other students, couldn’t this be in violation of the bill? Wouldn’t this eliminate special topics courses?

    Wouldn’t this open the door to any student unhappy with a grade challenging it with the claim of biased grading? Can’t personal style or any personal information at all convey at least a stereotypical association with certain viewpoints?

    Clearly, such a bill would begin a dangerous descent into the end of academic freedom. As teachers, we have a responsibility to present both sides of issues, and to do our absolute best to be fair and objective. We cannot, however, stop ourselves from being human.

    As a teacher, I do my best to be objective but cannot guarantee that my opinions are perfectly hidden. As a student, I am terrified to imagine a classroom in which teachers are too frightened to teach what they love.

    Amanda Gradisek English doctoral student

    Arizona DUI commercials offensive, racist

    Recently, I have seen two new commercials from Gov. Janet Napolitano’s “”DUI? Expect the Max”” program on television, both of which I have found shocking and racist.

    In one advertisement, a young Caucasian male walks amongst a prison dormitory area explaining how he was sentenced to jail regardless of his lawyer’s best attempts. However, toward the end of his speech, an African-American inmate can be clearly seen smirking and “”eying up”” the speaker in a very sexually suggestive manner. A second advertisement by the same Napolitano program features yet another young Caucasian male being threatened, but this time by a lone, heavily muscular African-American inmate, with similar sexual abuse implications being made.

    Not only do I oppose the state’s tactic of attempting to imply that a jail sentence leads to rape and sexual abuse (perhaps more specifically, sodomization of young white Caucasians by African-American inmates), but also the stereotypical use of intimidating African-American homosexual inmates.

    I sincerely hope that the public becomes aware of these racist commercials being funded by Arizona’s own state government, and that the outcry is not only large enough to pull the offensive material but call into question the sensibilities of our state officials altogether.

    Mika Mage pre-physiological sciences sophomore

    ASUA no longer fair, reliable

    Upon attending, for the first time, the Feb. 21 ASUA Senate meeting, I was completely appalled at the behavior of two particular senators when their peers had the floor. During speeches made by David Reece, Blake Rebling and Ry Ellison, these two senators kept exchanging sarcastic glances, making faces and rolling their eyes.

    ASUA Sens. Jessica Anderson and Melodie Schwartz are clearly misrepresenting the students of the University of Arizona by acting in such a way. Their job as an ASUA official is to represent the student body, and this includes showing the utmost respect when anyone has the floor, whether or not you agree with them. By exhibiting this behavior, they have definitely failed in doing so.

    Their actions were rude, uncalled for and extremely immature. In light of recent events, it is clear that they and other members of ASUA are interested not in what is right for the university but rather in pushing their own political agendas, and that is not what student government is about.

    This is the culmination of my growing disappointment in ASUA as an organization that is supposed to be fair, just and reliable, because it is certainly clear that ASUA is none of these things.

    Bethany Fourmy pre-nursing junior

    Abortion, torture information skewed in letter

    Alex Hoogasian’s letter “”Liberals protect terrorists but not fetuses”” made many points that I find to be not only disheartening, but also without accuracy. This short editorial tackled many issues ranging from domestic social issues such as abortion and the death penalty, to the morality of torture.

    While one could easily debate each of these issues with Mr. Hoogasian, I believe it is more important to address his free use of vulgar and unnecessarily colorful language while writing about these issues.

    The most poignant example could be found in his posing of the question, “”Why is it perfectly acceptable to prematurely extract a human being from a womb and jam forceps into its head, but we could not torture a terrorist to save our lives?”” This sentence carries virtually no weight simply because Mr. Hoogasian failed to reference or research any information of the subject. Therefore, I feel compelled to do so on his behalf.

    The 2002 Abortion Surveillance, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that only 2.4 percent of abortions conducted in the United States were from operations known as Dilation and Evacuation (or D&E). The survey also found that 59 percent of legal abortions are conducted at less than 8 weeks gestation and 87 percent at less than 13 weeks.

    This unbiased and scientifically accurate data suggests that his language of “”jamming forceps into (the fetus’) head”” could only apply to the smallest percentage of abortions, most of which would occur only during medical emergencies and situations of the highest urgency.

    Mr. Hoogasian also appears to have failed to research the issue of torture as well. In a Freedom of Information Act request, the FBI released documents showing their findings while inspecting the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The report stated that tools used to interrogate prisoners included “”sleep deprivation, the use of so-called truth drugs, beatings, locking in confined and cold cells, and being forced to maintain uncomfortable postures.””

    One agent wrote in these reports that she saw “”two detainees chained in a fetal position between 18 to 24 hours that had urinated and defecated on themselves.”” I personally find the image of American military personnel taking part in these activities to be disturbing. This clearly is not the case for everyone.

    Perhaps Mr. Hoogasian would be better served to do additional research before writing published editorials in the future.

    Jonathon Gable pre-business sophomore

    Sen. Verschoor: A great American hero

    Almost a year to the day after Arizona state Rep. Russell Pearce sought to remedy the critical dearth of American flags in UA classrooms (a crisis that threatened us all), state Sen. Thayer Verschoor has announced his intention to supplant Pearce as our state’s reigning political genius (“”Bill would ban teacher ‘advocacy'””).

    Verschoor has cast his august gaze upon the sad state of American education, and astutely realized that we have a problem. But Verschoor is a genius, and so he eschews the easy solutions. Never mind the $2 trillion being used to fight Middle Eastern wars that could be used to build new schools and hire new teachers. No, such pedestrian policies do not touch the heart of the educational dilemma. For as only a prodigy like Verschoor knows, the real problem is that our professors think.

    They have the temerity to form opinions about the things they study, and the gall to use their decades of experience as a tool to better educate their students. Because we all know that the only true knowledge, the only knowledge worth learning, is 100 percent neutral. This is why candidates for the presidency and, dare I say, the Arizona state Senate, never express their opinions on any issue, ever. For these mental giants understand that all information on every issue is equally valuable and equally credible.

    So I say up with SB 1542! Nothing is more destructive to our way of life than “”advocating one side of a social, political, or cultural issue that is a matter of partisan controversy.”” The first evildoers we will finally be able to confront are those un-American “”educators”” who continue to insist that the American Revolution and Constitutional Convention were “”noble”” events. Constitutional rights and the self-determination of peoples have been raging partisan controversies ever since Paul Revere pulled on his stirrups!

    To “”teach”” that this country’s laws and values are somehow better and more worthy than bondage and dictatorship is nothing more than brainwashing. Kudos and huzzah to Sen. Verschoor for saving us from this curse of modern education!

    Joel Feinman Latin American Studies graduate student

    Funding practices bespeak discrimination

    We want to express our initial approval and lingering concerns over the resignation of ASUA’s executive vice president. We are members of PrideLaw, a student organization that promotes the social and legal equality of GLBT people, on and off campus. We work with Wingspan, Southern Arizona’s GLBT Center to provide the Tucson community with free legal resources.

    In our efforts to fund our volunteers’ leadership and clinical training, we approached ASUA for funds to send representatives to a professional development conference in fall 2006. Our liaison met with substantial difficulty including unnecessary administrative hurdles and excessive funding delays. In light of Thursday’s article, we realized our hardships may be part of a broader problem that extends beyond one person and his particular set of beliefs.

    As noted in Thursday’s Arizona Daily Wildcat, the Appropriations Board expressed strong disapproval of “”The Vagina Monologues,”” an educational production that is part of a movement to stop sexual and domestic violence against women. Additionally, some of the recorded comments lead us to believe the Board would likely refuse to support any social justice organizations related to gender and/or sexuality.

    We now appeal to ASUA’s remaining members to set aside recent difficulties and help us all move forward. We sincerely hope ASUA President Erin Hertzog will continue to use her veto to ensure all student organizations have the same opportunities, regardless of their perceived organizational goals.

    We respect the official discretion permitted in funding allocations. However, to couch discrimination in the language of discretion is misleading, inaccurate and entirely inappropriate.

    In his Feb. 9 letter to the campus community, UA President Robert Shelton said he envisions the university as “”a community where we value freedom of speech and the responsible behavior that goes with it … (where) we respect each other and … ourselves.”” In our opinion, the controversies surrounding ASUA’s discriminatory funding practices just go to show how much work this campus has left to do in order to achieve what Shelton expects of us.

    Miranda Lefofsky Penner, Alex Tracy-Ramirez co-directors, PrideLaw Clinic

    University money shouldn’t fund abortion training

    Recently, the ASUA Appropriations Board was accused of ruling based on personal beliefs because it denied funding to Medical Students for Choice (“”ASUA shoots down board decision””). Yet, it can be argued that the decision of ASUA President Erin Hertzog to veto the ruling is equally charged with personal beliefs.

    In the article, Hertzog called MSFC “”something that we should fund. It is a worthy cause.”” Doesn’t the statement “”a worthy cause”” send a clear signal that the latter decision to veto, though justified by legalities, is backed by a clear pro-choice conviction? Clearly, motivation plays a huge role in this decision. Yet, it is unfair to only accuse the Appropriations Board of having ulterior motives, when the other side is guilty of the same.

    No one assumes the members of ASUA or the Appropriations Board are void of personal beliefs. Yet, the game at play here is who can wrap theirs more masterfully in bylaws.

    Let’s be honest. It is clear that the money recently appropriated to MSFC will be used to directly sponsor abortions. Guised as strict academic training, Gabriel Sarah expressed the true intentions of MSFC in last Wednesday’s front-page article. Sarah said, “”We are the only medical school in the state, and we need to be able to find and train doctors to provide abortions.””

    Sarah gives the impression that the training is not merely for personal development. Rather, it reveals MSFC’s broader agenda, which is one of activism. If the University Medical Center does not conduct abortions now, why would the MSFC pursue training in abortion? If a farmer does not expect rain, why would he plant seed and prepare his field? Such futile preparation just doesn’t make sense.

    Similarly, training medical students to conduct abortions for a university medical center that does not allow abortions is equally futile. Sarah’s comment exposes the true intent of this so-called “”academic activity.””

    Lastly, as a student of this university, I am appalled to learn about how my student fees are being used. Abortion is a horrible crime against defenseless human beings.

    Laura AviÇña public administration graduate student

    Meaning of ‘conservative’ subject to change

    In his column “”Conservatives? Not in America,”” Justyn Dillingham spent over 700 words bemoaning the lack of conservatives in our government. To those 700 words, I have two: words change.

    It’s no secret that as time goes on, meanings change, especially when we’re looking at labels – if there’s a label attached to a group of people, is the definition of the word more likely to change or are the people more likely to change? Modern American political conservatism, as nearly anyone can tell, deviates greatly from the original definition of conservatism.

    Self-proclaimed conservatives, if you ask them, will tell you that they’re talking about the new variety. If you asked Newt Gingrich what he thought American conservatism stands for, do you think he’d tell you that it is “”The strong adherence to tradition”” or “”A desire for small government, capitalism, and individualism?”” Sure, there are plenty of old-school conservatives who still call themselves conservatives, but this is a far cry from evidence of some “”smokescreen.””

    These new meanings of old words aren’t evil tricks; they’re called connotations. The fact is, seeing political ideologies as directions on the time line really isn’t going to do anyone any good. Besides, does anyone see Kim Jung Il sharing like a Marxist? Are American leftists at all “”liberal”” in the definitive sense or even slightly related to the liberals of the Enlightenment? Hardly.

    Here’s some advice: rather than getting cramps because Republicans don’t fit your preconceived notions of “”true”” definitions, just go with the flow.

    Dan Greenberg political science freshman

    More grad students not necessarily desirable

    I am writing in response to Friday’s Wildcat story “”Federal funding cuts hurt grad enrollment.”” Contrary to the principal assertion of this story, this year’s precipitous decrease in graduate student enrollment is not explained by federal funding cuts.

    I will not go into the details here, but I can say that the reporter for the story would have had better information if she had spoken with the dean of the Graduate College and graduate student representatives from the Graduate and Professional Student Council, instead of Erin Hertzog, the ASUA president.

    Outside of the preceding complaint, I would have liked to have seen better coverage of the issue of whether increased grad student enrollments are desirable. Certainly, a respectable graduate-to-undergraduate-student ratio is a benchmark by which universities may be evaluated. Nevertheless, it may be that increasing or maintaining grad student enrollments at the UA is not in the interests of graduate students.

    In the majority of disciplines, graduate students are funded through teaching or research assistantships, and enrollment in programs in such disciplines is tied to the ability of such programs to employ graduate students. But as the funding available to employ graduate students is relatively fixed, the pay and employment benefits of graduate students are inversely proportional to enrollments (in most programs). While increasing grad student enrollments may be an important institutional goal, achieving the goal could come at a price of limiting the pay and employment benefits of thousands of UA graduate students.

    That said, the UA has already fallen behind its peers in the area of graduate student employee compensation. This fact may bode favorably for UA grad student employees, as the UA will need to improve pay and employment benefits if the institution is to remain competitive in attracting promising graduate student instructors and researchers.

    Paul Thorn president, Graduate and Professional Student Council

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