Volume 94, Issue 54

Tuesday, December 5, 2000


Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Show big biz who's boss

Re: Students angry as Bell changes rate without notice, Nov. 29.

To the Editor:

I found out about Bell's underhanded scheme approximately two weeks prior to this article's printing. I too, was furious about the sudden changes to Bell's First Rate plan.

However, I was really not surprised for two reasons: Firstly, Bell Canada has had a long-term reputation for being "user-unfriendly," and for seemingly bullying its users, knowing full well they are indeed a local monopoly.

Secondly, this sort of rubbish is not a new phenomenon. Sprint Canada pulled a similar 180 degree turn with their "evening-and-weekend flat-rate" plan back around Oct. 1998. My roommate and I were on that plan when they scrapped it with little notice, leaving us with close to $60 in long-distance charges, in addition to our local phone charges.

My point is, that you have to be extremely careful when choosing long-distance plans. In fact, avoid getting a long-distance plan, if you can.

For about $30, you can get yourself a nice headset with microphone that plugs into the sound card in your computer. With the aid of technology and the World Wide Web, you can phone anybody across the globe for free.

All you need is the interface (headset) and a freeware Web dialer program from Microsoft, or the like.

If enough people cancel their long-distance plans altogether, maybe Bell, Sprint and the rest will get the message that people don't like being screwed around.

Greg Bie
Music III

Finally, some good feedback for The Gazette

Re: A Conversation With... Roy McDonald, Nov. 30.

To the Editor:

I would like to thank Matt Pearson for writing an insightful article about the life and experiences of Roy McDonald. I for one had no idea that such an intriguing character lived in our midst here in London.

Mr. McDonald fought for issues that have influenced our nation. He attended legendary events that I have only heard about in history class and has met some fascinating public figures.

I respect Mr. McDonald's anti-conformist attitudes and lifestyle. They make me wonder what I want to accomplish in life: A nice car? A big house? Or maybe more?

Lindy Gibson
Honours Sociology and English II

Writer calls for eds' heads

Re: Corroded Disorder, Nov. 29.

To the Editor:

In my brief time spent at Western, I have seen a variety of crude, vulgar and offensive articles, pictures and ideas portrayed within The Gazette.

Yet I have never felt as disappointed and upset as by the Corroded Disorder "cartoons" by Phil Arnold.

Mr. Arnold has a 'sense of humour' which I think is blasphemous; finding humour in the degradation of Christianity.

Either he has no sense of the magnitude and scope of what he is making fun of, or retains a great deal of anger.

In either case, he has directly made fun of the God and Saviour of myself and other believers on numerous occasions, most recently last week.

Jesus Christ is not a figure of ridicule. The Lord is to be loved, revered and praised.

Yet, Mr. Arnold consistently makes fun of God or of faith in God.

He needs to exercise some forbearance and self-discipline. If he is not able to, the editor must exercise some moral strength to delete these "cartoons."

If neither is able to do what they must, they should be replaced for the readers' sake, as well as for the sake of the aforementioned on the Day of Judgment.

This type of "cartoon" is reprehensible and has no place even in the low taste and quality displayed in The Gazette.

Brent Lanting
Mechanical Engineering II

Gazette archives disprove bad math

Re: New theorem: politics + math = huh? Dec. 1.

To the Editor:

I feel the need to respond to Paul Yeoman's letter of Dec. 1, as he seems to have his facts wrong.

Voter turnout in last year's presidential election was not 2,000 voters as he believes, but in fact 5,785 voters (approximately 25 per cent of the undergraduate population).

This can be confirmed by a quick check of The Gazette archives (Friday, Feb. 11, 2000). The USC elections committee has done an excellent job over the past two years of getting students out to vote.

Let's not start trying to undermine them now.

Jon Richardson
Kinesiology III

The Gazette should have sided with TAs on York U strike debate

Re: Students shafted, Nov. 30.

To the Editor:

As a Western alumni, I am writing to express my disappointment at the editorial commentary that you offer regarding the strike involving CUPE 3903 and the York University administration.

My dismay stems largely from the embarrassingly narrow – and at points, wholly misrepresentative – point of view that your paper presents.

It seems to me that it is the responsibility of a university newspaper to offer challenging and insightful counterpoints to mainstream opinions as they circulate and re-circulate in other forms of print-media.

That this strike pertains directly to the current crisis of university education in this province, makes it all the more distressing that The Gazette has failed to take up the challenge of thinking about the larger implications of this work-stoppage, beyond the pedestrian and naive characterization of TAs "singing a familiar tune Đ more money, more benefits."

Had you done the most rudimentary homework, you would know that CUPE 3903 consists not just of TAs, but of all contract faculty workers and research – and graduate assistants as well.

The Gazette's depiction of York's students as "victims" and of their "perilous" situation smacks of tedium and insincerity. Do not think for a moment that your attempt at studied neutrality provides you with the bonus of good conscience simply by siding with the students at York.

Far too much of your own rhetoric sides against you.

Not only do you equate them with consumers at a car-park, but you limit your definition of "shafted student" to those who are not on strike.

Despite your admission that the TAs who are on strike are also students, you seem to claim that they, like the rest of their colleagues on the picket lines are striking with no regard to, or compassion for, their students' needs.

At the risk of affronting your editorial staff with a somewhat less cynical view than the one they evidently hold, I would suggest that the needs of the non-striking students and the demands of those students and contract faculty who are, are not as diametrically opposed as you suggest.

What is being fought for during this strike is a fair and equitable settlement that takes, to name one instance, the reality of York graduate students into account (like the fact, for instance, that York students have access to far fewer scholarship opportunities and endowments than graduate opportunities at other institutions afford,) and that makes York University a productive and conscientious environment in which to work and study.

Even if we disregard the positive effects that such an environment has, in general, for undergraduate students, it must also be said that many undergraduate students will pursue graduate education in this province, and as such many have a clear stake in the outcome of this work-stoppage.

Sarah Clift
Ph.D. IV
Department of Social and Political Thought, York University
Department of Philosophy
Freie University, Berlin.

Critique of strike wrong

Re: Students shafted, Nov. 30.

To the Editor:

More money, better benefits; the cornerstone of any good old-fashioned strike. Another cornerstone of any good old-fashioned strike is a pig-headed unwillingness on the part of management to pay a decent wage.

The Gazette criticizes the TAs for going on strike for more money. How else are they supposed to get it? Management has opposed every advance by workers, including the end of child labour, decent pay, safe working conditions, the five-day work week and the eight-hour day.

In the real world, employees get nothing unless they fight for it.

Douglas Lefler
Masters of Library Information Science

CASA fallout is "comical"

Re: Gazette's lack of CASA coverage "unfortunate", Nov. 30.

To the Editor:

Mark Kissel, Western graduate and National Director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), has had his feathers ruffled because The Gazette failed to cover his "Hostage Brain" tour when it stopped at Western in late November.

How comical.

Apparently, Mr. Kissel spent a couple of days in the University Community Centre Atrium informing students about "their" federal lobby organization. Supposedly "hundreds" stopped by to inquire about the brain campaign. Finally, Kissel implied that it was The Gazette's responsibility to inform students about the fees that the University Students' Council pays to CASA.

First, I'd be surprised if most students at Western have ever heard of CASA until now. That's because they didn't get to decide whether they wanted to join. The USC made that affiliation decision for them. Second, if "hundreds" stopped by to see Mr. Kissel's brain-in-a-jar, it was probably because they were looking for some comic relief before exams.

If Kissel wants students at Western to know about CASA, then he should re-think his own strategy. If he really wants students to know about CASA, then the USC should put the affiliation question to the students themselves – by referendum.

In other words, before The Gazette begins accounting for the estimated $16,600 paid to CASA, perhaps students should be asked whether they even want to. Maybe then they can consider the alternative – Canada's democratic, long-standing, recognized national student organization.

Richard Telfer
MA Sociology III
Co-ordinator, Ontario Constituency
Canadian Federation of Students

Stand on guard vs. Chretien?

Re: Liberal victory means more than just a win, Dec. 1.

To the Editor:

As Aaron Wherry wrote in the Friday, Dec. 1 issue of The Gazette, "after all the critics and pundits had their say, it was Jean Chrétien who had the last word."

While this is very true, we as students have a duty to ensure that Chretien's "last word" finds a way of addressing the concerns facing post-secondary students; concerns that were rarely addressed throughout the entire federal campaign.

So, with the election over and with the Liberal Party set to begin its third majority term, we as students must work together and prevent the Liberals from becoming complacent.

The issues facing Canada's post-secondary students and institutions are nearing a crisis point. The cost of tuition has risen 126 per cent over the past decade across Canada, (151 per cent at Western). Canadian students are graduating with an average $19,000 in debt. Fewer and fewer youth from low-income backgrounds are receiving access to higher education because of rising cost barriers.

Meanwhile faculty numbers across the country have decreased by 9.7 percent and institutions face in excess of $3.6 billion worth of deferred maintenance work, all because of decreased funding.

The federal government received a strong mandate from the people of Canada. But let us be clear: this is not a mandate for business as usual when it comes to post-secondary education. If real action is not taken to address these issues then, come the next federal election, there will not be a public post-secondary system to make an issue of.

Jeff Sutton
USC VP-education
B.A.C.S. '00

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