Volume 93, Issue 43

Tuesday, November 16, 1999


Memorial not in style on campus

An out of this world anniversary

Convention not always so rational

A time to look at the real world

Maximum passion for gettin' laid

University a scary place

We musn't forget the Holocaust

Best things in life free?

Sharks coming up for air

Convention not always so rational

To the Editor:

This is an open letter to all those who work for The Gazette. I would like to forewarn all of you that this is not intended to be an angry letter based on any bitterness, but rather a letter of constructive criticism.

In my three years at Western, I have approached the editors of The Gazette on numerous occasions in an attempt to write opinionated articles on important issues of the day. Although it has become a regular phenomenon which I have gotten quite used to, the most recent shunning particularly bothered me.

I discussed my intentions of writing a perspective article on the upcoming Holocaust memorial known as "Kristalnacht," with several editors of the paper. For those who are unaware – on Nov. 9-10, 1938, gangs of German Nazi youth began the task of arresting and beating 26,000 Jewish citizens, sending them to concentration camps and in the process, destroying hundreds of religious sites and thousands of Jewish businesses in Germany. The significance of educating all students on the events that transpired those evenings is obvious.

As a new millennium approaches, the importance of reminding all of us of the terrible atrocities that were committed in our own century, should be apparent to everyone. We are all aware that with education and objectivity, comes understanding. However, The Gazette staff declined my offer to write this important focus article.

The reason I was given as to why The Gazette did not want to go ahead with the article, was that myself being a member of the Jewish Students Union, opinionated and threatened the impartiality of the article. In fairness to the editors, it is stated in the constitution of the paper that someone who is involved with a student organization should not be permitted to write an article on, or for, that organization. In fact, one of the editors did volunteer to write an article based around student activism at Western, using the Kristalnacht vigil as an example.

My issue is not with the editors of The Gazette, but with the overall unwritten conventions that The Gazette has established throughout its history. The constitutional conflict of interest mentioned by the editors would make sense if I was on the rugby team and wrote a favourable article on men's rugby. Or, if I was a member of the student wrestling club and wrote a favourable article on the status of wrestling clubs at Western.

However, being a member of the Jewish Students Union not only requires paid membership to join the club, it is a grateful obligation granted by Western, allowing me to stay in touch with my culture. Preventing someone from writing a historical, unbiased and informative article based on factual events, because of the religious club they belong to, offends no one but the person writing the article.

Because The Gazette is intended to be a student newspaper run and paid for by all students, you would think that by preventing me from writing this article you could be infringing on my fundamental rights as a student at this university.

I would like to reiterate that the article which would have been written would not have been a promotion of the Jewish Students Union, or of any Jewish religious beliefs. Rather, it would have documented one of the most tragic incidents of the 20th century.

Why is it that time and time again, The Gazette fails to offer reports or commentary on issues that matter because of fear of who they might offend? As university students we are all able to be objective, putting aside our own beliefs to discuss the intellectual implications of certain events. Why not give us that chance, instead of harping on potentially meaningless news regarding yet another Board of Governors meeting?

If this letter is published by the staff of The Gazette, it would be one small step in the right direction. At least this student's opinions could be published fairly in the paper read and paid for, by all of us.

David Skok
Political Science III

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Copyright The Gazette 1999