November 20, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 46  

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Not in our house

Re: "Soph woes," Nov. 14, 2003

To The Editor:

I am very puzzled how Mr. Peebles could have gotten his facts so mixed up, even though he has been a faculty soph for three years. He states that, "Every year, soph numbers are reduced by Housing and their responsibilities cut back." In the past three years, soph numbers have actually increased by at least 75 sophs -I'll point out it is not Housing that decides on soph numbers. This year alone saw a record increase in numbers for soph teams such as MIT, Alumni House, Westminster College, Med/Syd, science and even social science, which Mr. Peebles is a member of. I'm surprised he didn't notice.

With heavy emphasis being placed this year on sophs having a year-long role, Mr. Peebles' claim that soph's responsibilities are being cut back are plainly not the case. Faculty soph roles were actually increased with the addition of faculty soph programming on the Thursday and Friday of Orientation Week, which never existed before.

I would argue the claim that the soph program is on a downward slide. What should be noted is that this year great strides have been made on improving relations with Housing. This year, for the first time ever, residence staff were included in soph training and the University Students' Council is updating and improving the soph selection process.

The Orientation Strategic Planning Group is an example of how Housing managers have "come out from behind that desk and talked to sophs." I ask for patience. I have been a soph a lot longer then almost anyone (five years) and I can safely say these problems are being addressed, but it takes time.

Mark Vanpee
Science VI

Voter apathy

To the Editor:

Are students at Western aware democracy in Ontario is in jeopardy? That the Liberal government is refusing to allow the New Democratic Party official party status by not lowering the minimum required seats to a level that's comparable to other provinces and even the federal government? No.

People, please subscribe to a clue. It's free in any of the billion newspapers around campus. I am deeply saddened by the lack of political interest taken by Western students and their apathy towards the democratic process. They are inadvertently contributing to government mismanagement.

Time and time again, I have seen headlines in The Gazette reading "Students still don't care" and "Western still apex of political indifference, comma dirty body limericks." We laugh, but it is true.

Over the past few months, I have seen nothing but opportunity for students to become involved in all things political. There was a highly charged provincial election followed by an intense left-meets-right municipal election, yet I have only seen the occasional rolling of the eyes or nonchalant shrug among the student population. And with the federal election on its way, I am very worried if Western will be prepared for it or maintain the status quo and still make it to the bar on time.

I know many of you may think of me as Brian from The Breakfast Club, with his fake I.D. ("yeah, so I can vote" and that he's so uncool. But, he's not.) I was just like Brian in high school and I am better for it. I think Western students can benefit from shedding the stereotypes and try to wrap their brains around governmental affairs.

David Molenhuis
History/French III

Israeli law keeps families far apart

Re: "The road to Tel Aviv," Nov. 13, 2003

To the Editor:

News flash for Matthew Fisher: Numerous United Nations human rights committees that monitor state compliance with international human rights conventions have consistently identified Israel's citizenship and nationality laws as discriminatory and inconsistent with international law. In 1998, for example, the Committee on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights concluded Israel's Law of Return "discriminates against Palestinians in the Diaspora upon whom the Government of Israel has imposed restrictive requirements that make it almost impossible to return to their land of birth." The Israeli Law of Return prevents Palestinians from returning home. Under the 1952 Nationality Law, indigenous Palestinians must prove they were in Israel on or after July 14, 1952 (or the offspring of a Palestinian who meets this condition). Since most Palestinian refugees were displaced outside the borders of the state of Israel before 1952, they are unable to resume domicile in their homeland.

A UN committee also urged Israel in Sept. 2003 to repeal its new Nationality Law, which prevents Palestinians who marry Israelis from getting Israeli citizenship. This law forces thousands of Palestinian families to live apart and others to live illegally without rights. This law obviously gives Jewish Israelis more rights than non-Jews, and strikes at the heart of Israel's family reunification policy.

Israeli officials argue that the growth in the non-Jewish population of Israel over the last decade due to family reunification, not to mention the large number of non-Jewish immigrants, is a threat to the "Jewish character" of the state (i.e., a Jewish demographic majority and Jewish control of land). How can you possibly say that Israel is like Canada and that Hussam Ayyad, apparently along with the UN, is mistaken?

Randa B. Mouammar
Law II

Self-interested student groups

Re: "Ruining academic debate," Nov. 13, 2003

To the Editor:

Marshall Bellamy's column was the most insightful and incisive piece I've seen in my four years of reading The Gazette. The Jewish Students' Union, Muslim Students' Association and Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights are all less interested in debate or finding common ground than in cheerleading for their own squads. These groups at Western have become mirror images of each other, attacking the other side's speakers as "propagandists" and filling the pages of The Gazette with one-sided retorts.

The most horrendous irony is when these groups claim they are merely "raising awareness." This might be a narrowly defensible position were it not for the fact the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is by far the most discussed international political issue on campus. The conflict has a virtual monopoly on debate here, as the groups clamour for "balance" while ignoring every other issue in the geo-political sphere.

Mr. Bellamy does not identify the student groups by name, but Western readers will pick up on his targets. We too are sick of these narrow-minded groups talking themselves into circles.

Jordan Smith
Political Science/English IV



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