April 6, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 98  

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C minus

To the Editor:
The big hype about putting a “C” in front of your MSN Messenger handle is getting tired. Yes, it was nice to see that people are not made of stone and were compassionate enough to show their respect for Cecilia Zhang’s untimely death, but now what? Children die every day, so are you going to collect ALL their initials to stick in front of your handle?

If you did, you’d have a million letters. Approximately 24,000 people die every day from hunger or hunger-related causes, and three quarters of these deaths are children under the age of five. Of the 11.5 million people who die from AIDS in Africa, one quarter are children. Thirteen million children in Africa are AIDS orphans, and one quarter will die from a lack of nourishment and resources.

If people really did give a shit, they’d get off their computers and actually do something. Go support Child Find, or donate money to a charity in Cecilia’s name. If you’re too broke, do other proactive things like urge for more block parents to step up in your community, advocate more support for neighbourhood watch programs, or volunteer for a child support program in your community. Doing any of these things is much more worthwhile and meaningful than logging onto MSN Messenger with a freakin’ “C” in front of your handle.

Cecilia’s death was devastating — and we were all touched by it — but putting a measly letter in front of your name won’t do anything to help. Unless your compassion was just for show, get off your ass and find something to do about it already.

Hannah Bontogon
Nutrition IV

Rainbow Brite

To the Editor:
Can someone please enlighten me as to why this hideous new trend of wearing a multi-coloured, rainbow-like scarf has gripped Western?

This is probably the most disgusting piece of clothing ever worn on our campus — why would you voluntarily wear such repugnant looking material? I’m not a fashion major by any means, but wearing such a flamboyant scarf is basically telling the world you have given up on everything that was ever going for you, and the part of your brain dictating fashion sensibility has been declared clinically dead. I’d rather have a psychotic murderer leave me naked than wrap me up in some Hawaiian punch cloth.

Rahim Kanani
ACS & Philosophy III

Can’t beat the real thing... can you?

Re: “Grad Club/Coke deal spurs petition,” Mar. 31, 2004

To the Editor:
I wanted to laud the initiative taken by the wily and ambitious graduate students who are saying they won’t play ball with Coca-Cola and their exclusivity deals. Aside from the labour practices mentioned in the article, Coke receives failing grades in most other realms of its business practices.

Firstly, Coke is terrible for your health. Aspartame is a carcinogenic additive brought to you by Monsanto, the makers of genetically modified wheat. They waste millions on shameless marketing irrelevant to the product being sold. They sell school children poison and bribe their schools with sponsorship money. They show no concern for sustainable material resource management. If Coca-Cola were to buy 25 per cent recycled content plastic bottles, it would only cost about one-tenth of one cent per 20-ounce bottle. The list goes on.

Now, I admit I occasionally enjoy that classic cola experience, but to have Coke’s wide selection of beverages and flavoured sugar water (their supposed fruit juices) forced on you with exclusivity deals is corporate interference of everyday life to the max. We need alternatives to these kind of products. I would like to one day walk into the University Community Centre and enjoy a glass of fresh squeezed apple juice from orchards 10 kilometres up Richmond St..

James Skutezky
Civil/Environmental Engineering II

To the Editor:
I am writing this letter in response to the “protests” that have been circulating via e-mail regarding the Society of Graduate Students and the Grad Club’s recently approved exclusivity agreement with Coca-Cola. One such e-mail, to which the author no doubt mistakenly forgot to attach his/her name, tossed around vague and unsupported accusations of Coca-Cola, and encouraged students to enter into an anti-Coke e-mail campaign and boycott the Grad Club.

More recently, the Graduate Teaching Assistants’ union executive took it upon themselves to speak on behalf of some 1,400 TAs in a letter to SOGS expressing our disappointment in their decision to deal with Coca-Cola and our likelihood of boycotting the Grad Club. Maybe I was absent or asleep that day, but I don’t remember being asked my opinion on this matter, and I’m sure most other TAs don’t either.

I am disappointed by the all-too-common ignorance and hypocrisy displayed by Western students in their rush to speak out against anything and everything in an attempt to play the role of proactive, responsible members of society. My question to you is this: Have you ever purchased a Coke product? I’m sure you have. And does that make you a baby-killer or torturer of slave-labour factory workers in Jakarta? I’m sure it doesn’t. I am not claiming Coca-Cola is a squeaky clean or even ethical corporation. But the fact of the matter is that, as a result of consumer demand, the Grad Club already sells more Coke products than this contract stipulates.

So, let me get this straight. We all buy Coke products at the Grad Club but we just don’t want anyone to know about it? I know anti-corporation protests are popular, but next time try thinking before you speak.

Corey Isaacs
Psychology PhD candidate

Spoof Issue not a joke to some

Re: “Jesus is ugly,” Apr. 1, 2004

To the Editor:
I’m writing in regards to your offensive remarks towards Jesus Christ and Christians in your paper. Your printing of the “Jesus is ugly” letter was disgusting and insulting. I understand there is freedom of speech, but there are also boundaries that should not be crossed. You would not dare print racist, sexist or homophobic comments, so what makes religion the exception?

If you noticed, the student body is made up of numerous backgrounds and religions, and yes, some of us are Christians (and I hate to break it to you, but not because of The Passion of the Christ bandwagon). I don’t see you printing material that is mocking Jews, Hindus or Buddhists (you wouldn’t dare), yet you print comments about Jesus that are blasphemous and sacrilegious.

In the bottom of your editorial, it says “letters... judged by the Editor-in-Chief to be particularly stupid will not be published.” I guess the April fool musta let that one letter slip through by accident.

Marc Ghali

Editor’s note: So close, yet so far from figuring it out. It was the April Fool’s Day Issue!

Re: “We’re sorry, so sorry,” Apr. 1, 2004

To the Editor:
My problem with the Equity Issue was that some articles crossed the line. Overall, it was a funny April Fool’s Day Issue that had us all snickering at one point or another, but some of the jokes went too far.

Making fun of the suicide picture was a low point for the paper. It is obvious that no one at The Gazette has had to deal with the tragedy of losing a loved one this way, or the remarks would not have been made because you would understand how the painful memories can be. To read a distasteful joke as the pain returns is actually one of the worst feelings in the world.

To say the only reason why the picture should not have appeared was “because the person in it was flat-chested,” and that “the lack of tit was reprehensible,” is disgraceful and socially unacceptable.

Ashleigh Murphy
Psychology II

Be yourself

To the Editor:
I believe everyone is equal, with their strengths and weaknesses lying in different aspects of their personality, behaviour and most importantly, their character. Beauty is on the inside. In the end, that is all you have left so people should concentrate on being kind, performing selfless acts and expressing their true self instead of covering it up with makeup and uncomfortable clothes.

Too many people say and do things just because it’s what seems to be accepted by the general public. If you want to say something that doesn’t aim to put down another person or group of people, say it. If you want to do something, do it. Too often people don’t do what they really want because they are concerned about the reaction of others. Will they laugh at me? Will they think I’m not cool? Will they not want to be my friend? The people whose opinions deserve to be valued will not reject you for being who you are.

So the best thing to do is be yourself — your true self — not what you think others want you to be. Don’t conform to society’s often distorted values. Live according to your own values. And please don’t listen in silence when people say racist or discriminatory comments. By not saying anything you are just letting the problem get worse. If you feel you should say something, don’t let fear hold you back. Seize the moment.

Varana Mullen
Nursing I

Birthright a cultural experience

To the Editor:
As someone who went on the Birthright Israel program, I feel it is my duty to respond to the anti-Israeli garbage I am subjected to on campus. Why don’t we look at the claim that Birthright Israel is “racist.”

If Birthright were in fact racist, then I would not have spent a night on a Muslim-Bedouin settlement in the Negev, nor would I have engaged in three hours of mandatory dialogue with an Israeli-Arab who criticized Israeli policy. Furthermore, I wouldn’t have spent a day in a Druze village near the borders of Lebanon and Syria.

However, there is a more important point. Birthright is a trip which is funded privately, and since it is a benefactor’s money, he/she can choose how he/she wants to spend it. Luckily for Jewish youth, this benefactor has chosen to send us on free trips to Israel to enhance our Jewish identities. The trip is not about politics, but rather about Israel and our connection to Israel as Jewish people.

There are many other trips provided by both Christian and Muslim groups, which can take you to Israel and enforce Christian and Muslim identities, although I’m not sure if they are free.

Jordan Nahmias
Philosophy III

International correspondents

Re: “International robbery,” Mar. 31, 2004

To the Editor:
To decide to study in Canada is not a right but a privilege. Syed Salman N. Qadri needs to accept and respect the fact that he is a visitor in this country and will not receive the same financial support as a Canadian student. It is unreasonable to expect the Canadian government to assist you in paying for tuition if you have never paid taxes in Canada.

As an international student at Western, I have to disagree with his comments. I have held a job on campus for the past two years, helping me cover my tuition and living expenses. There are other jobs available to international students outside of work-study opportunities, and instead of sitting around and whining he should consider going out and looking for one. Summer internships are available to international students, too. While they are on an unpaid voluntary basis, it will provide you with practical experience.

Instead of blaming Canada for your “misfortunes,” you should realize there are plenty of opportunities available if you look hard enough.

Valerie Charls

To the Editor:
Salman, as a fellow international student, I can sympathize with your plea of having financial difficulties and having to dig up more than $100,000 for an undergraduate degree. I applaud you for voicing the financial plight many of us international students are facing. However, I disagree with your comment on Canada having discriminatory rules against international students. I feel that the critique of lack of financial support towards international students is misdirected towards the Canadian state, and ought to be rightly aimed at our own governments.

Governments were set up to watch and take care of their own citizens. The Canadian government is doing its job by providing its citizens the benefits to pursue higher education at an affordable rate. The existence of loans and bursaries are also aimed at helping disadvantaged Canadian citizens. These and other things such as health care and the right to work are part of the benefits of being a Canadian citizen.

From a political perspective, I don’t see any obligations — nor reasons — for the Canadian government to provide similar benefits to non-citizens of Canada. The rules, if they are “discriminatory,” only serve to protect and maximize the benefits of Canadian citizens. In all fairness, Canadians are entitled to such benefits from their own government. It is unfair for them to have to compete against non-citizens for financial aid or work opportunities from their OWN government.

I think there should be at least some aid for deserving international students. It breaks my heart to see brilliant international students having to stop halfway through their education due to unforeseen financial circumstances.

I can see the reason for not providing us with loans, bursaries and limited work opportunities, but on behalf of all international students, can’t Canada provide more scholarship opportunities for deserving international students?

In the meanwhile, please excuse me while I cough out blood trying to find ways to make ends meet for the next academic year.

Cheryl Yee
Political Science/ Philosophy III

To the Editor:
It is logical to impose 2.3 times higher tuition for international students. As the government expects, Canadian students will make taxable incomes for nearly 40 years while international students are assumed to return to their original country.

However, it is also the case that international students are making a greater financial contribution to the university. Again, the problem is how it is used. Although they are making the extra contribution to the university, they are not receiving enough extra services to accomplish their academic goals.

Here is an example. Based on its policy, the Writing Centre does NOT correct more than one grammar mistake in a single counselling session to encourage students’ proofreading, though most international students have grammatical uncertainty. Western’s policy on a student’s English proficiency is as follows: “Work presented in English... shows a lack of proficiency in English and is therefore unacceptable for academic credit.”

But, is it really a feasible goal for ESL students to submit an essay without any grammar mistakes? Remember, the Writing Centre corrects only one mistake in a session. Under such circumstances, is it fair that an ESL student received a 25 per cent subtraction in essay grade due to grammar mistakes? So long as the Writing Centre does not provide sufficient assistance, they might hand in essays with the same grammar mistakes for four years. Although encouraging self-learning is an indispensable skill, it is a mere complement of institutional assistance.

The Writing Centre should provide free writing assistance specially for international students to fully justify the higher tuition’s. This plan is offered in many other universities, and I believe it is a sustainable plan regarding the incremental costs and resources.

Daisuke (Danny) Nakahara



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