November 6, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 38  

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EDITORIAL & OPINIONS

Letters

We have the power, like He-Man

To the Editor:
One might find it odd a debt-burdened student like myself supports Dalton McGuinty’s decision to raise the cap on Ontario’s hydro rates. In fact, I applaud him for having the guts to do the right thing. Trying to make enough money to cover my tuition on minimum wage jobs is difficult and while it will be more of a struggle to cover my monthly bills when the rates go up, I will be glad to pay for what I USE!

What some of us fail to realize is we shouldn’t be angry with Mr. McGuinty for raising the rates, but rather angry with ourselves for the amount of electricity we waste. It is my impression there are too many people taking far more than they need and the unfortunate reality is they do not believe they should have to pay for it. I am ashamed of these individuals because it is their excessive lifestyles that drive the rates up in the first place, making it so much more difficult for others to make a reasonable living.

Furthermore, we should be looking at the broader perspective and asking ourselves why governments are left with these massive deficits in the first place. Obviously it is because overspending has occurred, but again we fail to recognize the bigger issue — that people don’t want to pay for what they get! We forget it costs money to run the programs, institutions and services that benefit us as members of a democratic society. Instead of accepting this and paying our taxes happily, we are often more interested in “our immediate self-serving interests,” as Mr. McGuinty has brought to light.

Change obviously comes by way of the people, not just it’s leaders, so it’s up to each of us to make our contribution towards a system that works. Businesses and households alike were able to run on reduced power consumption during August’s blackout, which should make each of us aware that we can and must use less than we are.

Graham Eggel
Philosophy/ACS III

CFS strikes back

Re: “CFS and CASA worlds apart,” Oct. 31, 2003

To the Editor:
The article and editorial on Canada’s student movement were remarkably misinformed. The suggestion that any national student organization was responsible for throwing macaroni at politicians is complete and utter mythology.

Be careful not to confuse principles with demands. While the Canadian Federation of Students unites 70 students’ unions in the belief there should not be financial barriers to higher education, rather than clumsily demanding NO tuition fees, CFS presents well-researched recommendations for reducing tuition fees, improving student financial assistance and increasing government funding.

Finally, you incorrectly counterpoise government meetings with political rallies as mutually exclusive lobbying strategies. In fact, both work together because respect is earned when one establishes their political relevancy, not by schmoozing over wine and cheese. Over the past 22 years, students have worked together through CFS to produce research reports and policy submissions that are presented to government through regular meetings with provincial and federal politicians, bureaucrats and legislative committees.

However, unless students can offer financial “perks” like a major corporation can, all the meetings in the world will not change public policy unless students can prove we enjoy public support for our issues. To that end, CFS has been successful in using rallies and other campaigns to apply pressure on politicians by garnering positive media attention and galvanizing the opinions of voters. Such tactics stopped devastating student debt increases in 1995 and a 40 per cent tuition fee hike in 2000.

Unfortunately, such articles serve to create the illusion of divisions that are more imaginary than real. As students, our challenge is to work together to create the kind of broad-based public pressure that makes it impossible for government not to turn the tide on tuition fee increases and reinvest in education.

Until we do that, it is students like all of us, not politicians, whose faces will be full of macaroni.

Joel Duff
Ontario Chairperson
Canadian Federation of Students

"UWO attitude" disturbs frosh

Re: “Birdwatching,” Oct. 29, 2003

To the Editor:
You would think by this stage in our lives, people would be able to get past the extreme materialism displayed in the letters concerning Tiffany girls. Frankly, it is disgusting to see people automatically place others into certain classes based on nothing more than social status. If someone does not have a trust fund and their daddy is not a CEO, then they are classified as a “Campus Crew girl” or an “American Eagle junkie.”
Apparently, these are offensive terms and these girls are not worth anyone’s time. Please forgive these people for not being uber-rich and not being able to afford the items necessary to be considered attractive.
Many first-year students are wary of attending Western due to rumours that everyone here is snobby, rich and materialistic. Personally, I have met many amazing people — some richer, some poorer — and I have found the people who make judgments based solely on appearance are not the majority. But it is statements such as “Go hot or go home” that really make you question how some people gained admission to university.
Jessica Armstrong
Science I

Cell-out

Re: “Embryo research yes, human cloning no,” Oct. 30, 2003

To the Editor:
This letter is in regards to Bill C-13 recently passed in the House of Commons, allowing embryonic research. But more importantly, this letter is to address those who have a misconception of what the status of the human embryo is.

Many have sadly been misled into believing embryonic stem cell research is valid research since it could lead to new developments of treatments for neurological diseases. Embryonic stem cell research is not and will never be justified! When the cost of research demands merciless killing of innocent lives, there can be no benefit great enough to justify the protocol.

To claim embryonic stem cell research would improve the quality of life is an ignorant statement since the costs of such research are much more destructive than the benefits to human life. Researchers and members of our own Canadian Parliament who can justify an assault against the human embryo must operate with a faulty notion of what human dignity is and what human rights are. The embryo is not just a “mass of cells” or a “potential” human being: human embryos are 100 per cent human!

Anyone who dares to enter the academic arena must never forget that if technology advances faster than the wisdom and understanding of the user then it leads to uncontrolled destruction. To stop asking ethical questions of what we are doing and why we are doing it defies all scientific research. God help us!

Melinda A. White
Physiology IV

Walk on the wild side

Re: “What would Rosa Parks do?,” Oct. 29, 2003

To the Editor:
I think it is hilarious that every year we continue this debate about people taking the bus, when it is felt by some they should have to walk, as opposed to utilizing public transit.

What Mr. Schell failed to remember is that these “first-year Essexinians/Perths” students paid for a non-refundable bus pass (the same as you) and are within full entitlement to use this bus pass. There may be a ton of reasons as to why they are taking the bus, none of which you know of.

The bus is going to be overcrowded whether or not a few students board the bus outside of Thompson Arena. Also, many of the busses, when they are overcrowded, will not stop at the bus stop to pick up these students.

As for your comment involving “them making you late for lecture,” if you’re so concerned, then why don’t YOU be the one who gets up 10-15 minutes earlier and catches the earlier bus (which by the way, will also probably be packed, but at 9 a.m. that seems to be the norm!). Or as you so eloquently stated, “unless there is a freak blizzard or you have a visible disability, then WALK!.”

Overcrowded buses just seem to be the norm, especially this year with the double cohort, so I guess we all need to “suck it up.”

Andrea Wallette
Chemistry V

No rules broken in election e-mail, but freedoms might be

Re: “Student leaders in SPAM war,” Oct. 31, 2003

To the Editor:
I have some concerns about this particular incident as well as the questions raised in the e-mails giving rise to it. Since faculty and students are subject to the same university-wide “Acceptable Use Agreement” (AUA) on e-mail use, the allegations of inappropriate use raise concerns for faculty members as well.

The allegedly offending post was sent to approximately 50 recipients indicating there is an upcoming municipal election in London, that student turnout has been very low in the past and that two Western students are running for office, namely Joshua Morgan and Dave Forestell. According to the article, one of the recipients took offense at the posting and filed a complaint with Information Technology Services on the grounds the posting was contrary to the Western AUA.

A careful review of the AUA shows this complaint is frivolous. It goes well beyond the face of the policy, seeking to limit expressive activities that are an integral part of a university community and inviting unwarranted interference with the rights of expression protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. AUA 4.00 states that “[t]he intentional use of the computing resources for any purpose other than academic, administrative, and/or incidental, non-commercial personal use, will be considered to be unauthorized.” Section 5.00 tries to amplify this rather vague standard by providing specific examples of unacceptable use and although the list is neither exclusive nor the picture of clarity, the gist of the examples points to some sort of affirmative misconduct (i.e. sending fraudulent, harassing or obscene messages, damaging the facility, circumventing security systems, etc.).

This reference to “incidental, non-commercial personal use” combined with the standard of proof in section 6.00 (“That proof of a Section 4.00 offense shall be at the upper end of the balance of probability scale on clear and cogent evidence”) shows the drafters of the policy were aware such standards must be carefully crafted in order to avoid interfering with protected expressive activities. Campus e-mail is now a significant forum for expression and should be considered an essential public facility within the university.

Encouraging broad discussion about an upcoming election is a legitimate expressive activity. Using e-mail to induce voter turnout or talk about particular candidates of interest to student voters falls well within the sort of discourse associated with the university community, what with candidate forums held on campus, registered clubs affiliated with political parties and polling stations being located on university facilities.

My concern is not so much that the university will sustain the complaint, but that this pressure could subtly produce a chilling effect on expressive activity on the part of others. Students have told me they are less inclined to talk about the election on their e-mail because of such “acceptable use” concerns. If there is even the potential for such an effect on protected expression, the matter must be clarified immediately. The university should immediately respond to the complaint by confirming it is groundless.

As to the merits of the reference to particular candidates, Western students should definitely be made aware that two of their colleagues are running for local office. Joshua Morgan and Dave Forestell should be commended not simply because they seek local office, but because they have done their homework and have produced well thought-out and articulate platforms.

But don’t stop there; there are many other candidates worthy of your support (and a few not-so-worthy). Do the research, learn about the candidates and their positions, and go to the polls on Nov. 10. Hopefully, more students will vote in the upcoming election and maybe even follow Joshua and Dave’s example and become actively involved in civic affairs.

Now that’s something worth talking about, even on e-mail.

Samuel Trosow
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Law / Faculty of Information & Media Studies

 

 

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