October 7 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 22  

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Patronizing not the way

Re: "Speaker not an academic scholar," Oct. 1, 2003

To the Editor:

The type of opinions set forward in this piece are precisely the reason "the cloud of anti-Israel attitudes" (as Paul Rakowski put it in a recent memo to Jewish Students' Union students) are rising on campus. Unfortunately for Mr. Rakowski and the other leaders of this "Israel Action Committee," the method they are using to address these rising attitudes is exactly what is causing the cloud to grow.

The goal of the IAC seems to be to tell everyone how great Israel is and how wrong they are when they dare criticize Israel's domestic policies in any way (Gazette cartoons of the last few days captured this point perfectly). By creating an isolationist policy where they take it upon themselves to educate the apparently misinformed university students around them, they put themselves in an unpopular paternal position. Instead of realizing the people around them are for the most part very educated and are in university to gain knowledge, they seem to think Western students don't watch the news or keep up with current events enough to have a valid opinion on the topic.

The IAC needs to get their act together and open up dialogue with the very students they are treating like children. Find out why students are angry at Israel instead of telling them how they should feel. Mr. Rakowski, you do not "strongly support academic debate," but seem only concerned with the spread of religiously biased attitudes - sounds to me you are seeking higher education for the wrong reasons. Your attitude isn't welcome at a free-minded institution - it only stagnates the learning of the rest of us.

Marc Blainey
Anthropology III

Lost reader

To the Editor:

The editorial comic on Oct. 1 proved to me The Gazette has not only reduced itself to the status of mere tabloid, but it is proud of that dubious distinction. I'm not sure when you crossed the line from objective to biased reporting, but rest assured, you have offended many readers.

It is clear to me you published the comics to just get a rise from the student body - but in doing so you completely compromised your journalistic integrity. I have grown accustomed to curling up with The Gazette and my morning coffee; but I will not be doing that anymore. I'd rather spend my time reading something that does not make me sick.

Shael Fryer

Finkelstein should take Speech 020

To the Editor:

I attended Norman Finkelstein's lecture knowing my views on the Middle East would be challenged. Despite this, I was still shocked when I heard what he had to say. I was especially taken aback by the positive responses he received from most members of the audience.

Many acclaimed anti-Israel orators present their rhetoric so succinctly one finds counter-attacks difficult. Finkelstein was not this type of speaker. He was rude, crass and childish. When a lecturer insults those listening to him, he is surely insecure and does not command respect.

I will admit I felt threatened by Finkelstein's presentation - how could I not when a room full of people jeered at the mention of the Jewish Holocaust which all four of my grandparents survived? - but mostly I was amused. Could anyone really take this guy seriously? I know other self-hating Jews who are far more eloquent and are better at spewing forth anti-Israel propaganda than Finkelstein. The organizers of last week's event should just ask me for their names next time.

Kathy Peto
Biology II


Never forget

To the Editor:

After Norman Finkelstein came to speak at Western, there was an inordinate amount of controversy regarding what was said. To try and get a better understanding of what he could have possibly been trying to accomplish in his speech, I purchased his book The Holocaust Industry.

After paying my $18.58, I knew something was not right; if there really is such a thing as a Holocaust Industry,? that would make him a hypocrite for obvious reasons. So what is the underlying meaning of all this?

I started reading the book and then I saw it: Apart from my parents, every family member on both sides was exterminated by the Nazis... there is a personal motive as well; I do care about the memory of my family?s persecution.?

Finkelstein, you sly SOB, I finally understand! If a Holocaust survivor had come to speak, the attendance at the speech would have been minimal, having only members of the Jewish Students? Union and the Israel Action Committee there. By introducing the topic of the Holocaust in such a controversial manner, the speech drew an enormous and diverse crowd. Above all, the amount of publication the horrors of the Holocaust has received because of this is enormous. People who may have known slim to nothing about the Holocaust are now being forced to learn and read about it.

The most important message every Holocaust survivor gives is to never forget. Mr. Finkelstein has chosen the road less travelled, using controversy to stir a broad awareness and for this I give him three cheers. I'm sorry if I spoiled his facde.

Brian Bacal

Living with cancer

To the Editor:

Last year I was a first-year student living at Saugeen-Maitland Hall, but this year I can not go back to school until January. Why, one might wonder? Well to start off, in early February I was diagnosed with cancer after five months of going to Student Health Services and the University Hospital. I was put on many medications, diagnosed with many problems (including getting my wisdom teeth removed) and told nothing could be done, many times. My room looked like a pharmacy.

I personally felt I was looked at as “a young student, first time away from home with the stress of having to deal with a new way of life.” I never felt I was properly taken care of, especially when the symptoms I had were a perfect match to my type of cancer. I was always sick, to the point I couldn’t even attend my classes in the last couple weeks. Finally my mom decided to take some action and arranged for me to see a doctor immediately, who only days later diagnosed me.

Now I am not saying both of these services should not be used because I know they do work and help many students everyday. But keep pushing when you know something is wrong and don’t stop until something is done. Right now I have been cleared cancer-free, but I still have a long way to go until I can see the words “in remission” placed on my file.

It’s just sad to know that on my 47th day of being in the hospital, I got a call from Student Health Services saying they had me booked for an MRI on Jun. 5. By then it probably would have been too late.

Vanessa Jordan

No USC onus

Re: “Wet/Dry a USC must,” Oct. 3, 2003

To the Editor:

I strongly agree “It is incumbent on the USC to show leadership and ensure all students have access to a full range of student programs on campus.” I do not believe, however, it is the USC’s responsibility to ensure first-year students have access to bars after 9 p.m. on campus.

Let’s make it clear first year students can and do enjoy the use of The Wave and The Spoke right now, as long as it is before 9 p.m.. Anyone can hold meetings there or programming, as long as it’s before 9 p.m. if they want to include minors. Underage frosh subsidy fees do not go to waste. As students we all subsidize our varsity teams, but how many non-varsity athletes have access to the equipment in Thames Hall, where varsity athletes have exclusive use?

The real issue here is first-year students don’t get to enjoy the on-campus bars at night. I believe the USC does not have an ”onus,” as Mr. Dyson says, to ensure these two facilities can be used by all. They already are, even by minors before 9 p.m.. The Wave and The Spoke are bars and it sucks, but the USC can’t re-write the law books for the sake of a minority of the student body.

Mark Vanpee
Science VI

Prez calrifies OSPG recommendations

To the Editor:

While I welcome The Gazette’s coverage of the Orientation Strategic Planning Group (OSPG) report to the University Students’ Council (Sep. 24, 2003), I would like to clarify a few statements made in a recent editorial:

OSPG does not recommend the elimination of charity or info team sophs: The OSPG report, however, does recommend the role of all sophs be examined in relation to their dissemination of information to first-year students. As a result, in future years there will be an enhancement of the role of charity and info sophs in the Orientation program.

Wording of the report: In certain places, the wording of the report is vague as the committee wished to leave room for future Orientation leaders to interpret recommendations based upon the context in which they will be planning.

A great deal of the report has already been implemented: Fantasy has in fact become reality. A large portion of the OSPG report paralleled Orientation Week 2003 and will continue to be implemented in the coming year. There need be no fear about whether or not the recommendations in the report “will ever see fruition” — most of them already have.

The OSPG report charts a strong direction for Orientation at Western for the years to come. With the impressive success of O-Week 2003, future Western first-years can look forward to the best Orientation program in the country. I invite any and all students with questions or comments regarding this report to e-mail me at usc.president@uwo.ca or to stop by the USC office.

Paul Yeoman
University Students’ Council

G'bye closet

Re: “Older Folks don’t get gays,” Oct. 2, 2003

To the Editor:

For once the right questions are being asked.

It is true older folks don’t understand homosexuality or trans issues. I had to listen to my own father making cracks at court decisions (“oh, I wonder who the bride would be”) during my closeted years. Thankfully, now that I’m out, his attitudes, at least outwardly, have seemed to change.

And therein lies the solution. In older generations, not many people came out for fear of the consequences of homophobia in the world. A lot of older straight people, therefore, did not know a whole lot of gay people. And without knowing anyone well, and knowing they were gay, people became misinformed.

Hence the importance of Coming Out Week (Oct. 6-10). By making people aware of homosexuality and the issues surrounding it, people can develop a comfort level with the sexuality of others and therefore eliminate homophobia.

Grab a Coming Out Week booklet and find out what’s happening! We’d love to have you!

Shawn Vaillancourt
Math Education II
USC Pride Commissioner



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