April 7, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 99  

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Hear hear, the Letters of the Year

It’s been another wild year in The Gazette Opinions section, with Western students opining about a plethora of topics. Here is a short selection of just a few of the year’s wittiest, memorable and controversial letters.

To the Editor:
I see that Western has yet to properly name the North Campus Building, likely because a wealthy donor has yet to come forward with some money for media, information and technoculture.

Well fret no more, because if you name the building after me, I will donate $500 to the pseudo-faculty. Not enough for you? I will pay for the lettering to be installed on the front of the building. Still not going for it? Over the years, I — and, eventually, my descendants — will even pay for the upkeep of the letters as they get stolen or tarnished.

Let’s call it the “Michael Smith Centre for Media Studies” or the “Michael Smith Media Centre.” I really don’t care what you crazy kids at the top pick, so long as my name’s up there.

So come on, 500 smackers. We all know nobody else in their right mind would want to be publicly associated with MIT; this could very well be your only chance to get any money for this faculty.

Mike Smith
Visual Art III

To the Editor:
Damn you. Damn you for silencing us. Damn you for calling our struggle for human rights a “cycle of useless rhetoric.” And damn you for letting a few individuals who can’t control their tempers steal all that is good from our cause.

What the hell do you want us to discuss that we haven’t already been trying to? You rarely print our letters and you seem to think moderation means accepting Palestinians be denied human rights. How dare you be so self-righteous? At the top of your opinions page, you quoted, “Anger is never without an argument, but seldom with a good one” by Lord Halifax, head of Foreign Affairs during England’s colonial days. Ask former slaves if they were angry during slavery. Ask a South African pre-Apartheid. Ask one of Halifax’s colonies. More often, anger is the result of arguments being ignored and silenced.

You wasted expensive space in that editorial and your mediocre knowledge determined the issue to be useless. It is not useless or ignorant to fight on behalf of Palestinian’s rights to life and liberty. Hundreds of thousands fighting with pens and words are ignored in favour of a few who use violence. How dare you sensationalize us and then condemn us for being overly sensational. Our identity is at stake and you decide it’s not worth your energy. You wasted space to declare your boredom in an uninformed, unfair manner. It is asinine comments like yours that prevent the promotion of constructive discourse.

Einstein said “the world is too dangerous to live in — not because of those who do evil, but because of those who sit and let it happen.” Damn you for being those people.

Randa B. Mouammar, M.A.
Faculty of Law, LL.B. (2005)

To the Editor:
Am I the only person to find the Yop display in the University Community Centre atrium somewhat disturbing. Remember Yop? The liquid yogurt drink that brings many of us back to the innocence of our childhood.

Apparently the ingenious marketing team at Yop thought it would boost sales to make the yogurty beverage “cool” among university students. How else could one accomplish such a task than by having a couple of 15-year-old girls stretching their way through the UCC in vibrant blue leotards.

Are you kidding me? Little girls on university campus, suggestively bending in tight spandex. I realize sex sells and all, but one would think that a display bordering on pedophilia would be associated with something other than yogurt.

Don’t get me wrong — I enjoyed the free Yop; but my previously innocent memories of Yop have been tainted forever.

Chris Unwin
Honours English/ Sociology IV

To the Editor:
With all the hype generated by publishing rankings of universities and their faculties and programs, The Globe and Mail has released its second annual student-developed “University Report Card.”

I’m sure many have heard the news Trent and Brock possess the best quality education in Canada, but perhaps what you might have missed — it being nestled far in the back of The Globe’s insert magazine — was that the University of Waterloo’s law school has a reputation which exceeds that of our own faculty of law here at Western and the popular Osgoode Hall at York University. Good for Waterloo in getting their name out there and letting Canadian undergrads know of their presence. Here’s the thing though — Waterloo has no law school.

Come on now Globe and Mail; this “Report Card” really deserves an F.

Greg Kerr
H.B.A./LL.B. 2005

To the Editor:
I was in the running for Arts Councillor, but after missing the first mandatory meeting, I was notified I was no longer an eligible candidate. One who can’t remember to go to the first meeting certainly shouldn’t be running for positions of power anyway, but apparently being ineligible is University Students’ Council-speak for eligible. Withdrawing wasn’t enough to dissuade them from keeping me, because my name was on the ballot.

What was surprising was that people actually voted for me. I was ineligible, I withdrew from the election and did no campaigning whatsoever. Result: 86 votes. My other friend got 154 votes with no campaigning.

What does this prove? Voter apathy. Most students (or at least 240 of them) don’t give a damn about the USC. But do I care? Not really. I just find it amusing I was voted for.

Kyle Malashewski
Arts I

To the Editor:
I am shocked and appalled one of our student councillors wants to tear down the very cornerstone of the Western community. The newly constructed purple awning which adorns the renovated Concrete Beach is a symbol of Western pride and the envy of communities outside our gates. How can we allow someone to tear at the very fabric that holds this university together?

When the awning was built it captured the spirit and essence of this university and it stands tall and proud as a big purple beacon of hope for the world (as only the second human crafted structure which is visible from space).

I call everyone on campus to rise with me to defend this treasure! This threat to our awning shakes the very core of our campus and we must devote all our energy to preserving this central figure. I may be as bold as to say the thought of losing the beloved awning makes me realize what is really important in this world.

I implore students, faculty and staff to do whatever they can to ensure the heart and soul of Western’s campus is preserved not only for us, but also for the generations to come.

Sean Doherty
Biology II
President of CRAP
(Coalition to Renew Awning Pride)

To the Editor:
After four years at Western, I wanted to thank everyone who has helped me in my time of need. I’m talking about anybody who has left a copy of The Gazette in the washroom for me to read.

If you’re on your way there, grab a paper. It could make someone’s day.

Ray Ho

To the Editor:
My heart saddens at the realization the Israeli-Palestinian conflict still occupies up to half of The Gazette’s Letters to the Editor. This is my fourth and last year here and I naively hoped some sort of co-operation could exist between Western’s Muslims and Jews.

As a Jew, I ask my fellow Jews to please stop using silencing techniques like insulting people as “self-hating Jews” and “propagandists.” If we are to criticize people, it must be on the basis of their opinions, not their character. Bringing up the Holocaust to justify repression of Palestinians is sickening.

As a fellow human being who cares passionately about the Middle East, I ask Muslims to please stop pretending Israel is the sole cause of conflict in the Middle East. Palestine-as-symbol is a convenient way to avoid other problems in this troubled region.

We do not want to radicalize this campus, repeating the horrible events at Concordia University last year. We seem to be replicating the Middle East conflict over here, as Jews instinctively support Israel and Muslims automatically support the Palestinians. Let us use the recent death of Edward Said to remind us the only solution lies in understanding each other’s pain and finding mutual empathy.

Jordan Smith
Political Science/English IV

To the Editor:
Last week, while passing through the tunnel to the Social Science Centre, I saw a poster advertising the Western Pre-Law Society’s Annual Mock Trial Competition. It read, and I quote: “Did her boyfriend rape her? Prove it and win $1,000!”

On a campus where more than half of the approximately 30,000 students are female, and in an age where one in four women have been sexually assaulted and 57 per cent of rapes occur on dates (Ontario Women’s Directorate), I found the poster to be extremely tasteless. I promptly took it to the University Students’ Council’s office and was later informed that the poster “does not incite hate or discrimination against any group or individual protected under the USC’s Community Standards policy or the Canadian Human Rights Code.”

Western Pre-Law, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Treating the prosecution of date rape as the topic of a game show is not only despicable, but also ignorant: you do not seem to realize the effects your poster may have had. Next time Western Pre-Law, please consider your audience before distributing another poster with such a horrific tag line.

Shannon Lane
Psychology III

To the Editor:
Ken and Barbie were both longtime friends of most girls, and Ken was the man that set the standard for all men. Unfortunately, on Feb. 12, 2004 after a strong 43-year relationship, they broke up. Some say Barbie may be going through a mid-life crisis, but I believe Barbie just got bored and wanted something new and exciting. Barbie has started seeing a young, boogie-boarding Australian named Blaine, who is nowhere near as hot as Ken. He’s more of a punk, bad ass, beach bum.

As a child, I was a huge fan of getting Barbie ready and dressed for a night on the town with Ken. He would pick her up in his hot pink Jeep and show her a nice night and bring her back at a respectable time. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am deeply offended by this change in men.

How can Mattel just dump Ken like that and replace him with someone that cannot compare? Ken was an amazing guy and just because he wasn’t prepared for marriage doesn’t mean Barbie should just leave him on the side of the road. Some men are afraid of the final commitment, but come on Barbie, why just throw all that down the drain?

Hopefully, Barbie will notice Blaine is just another player looking for a piece of ass, and Ken was the real thing.

Necia Martins
Science I

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

To the Editor:
I would just like to comment on the comics you guys publish in The Gazette. Not only are they some of the funniest cartoons I’ve ever read, they make my day every time I pick up a copy of your paper. The cartoon entitled “Sperm” (Oct. 21) literally made me laugh out loud in the University Community Centre. After having everyone turn their head and look at me as though I was on crack, they soon realized my laugh was brought on by your paper.

I would personally like to thank all those artists who contribute their witty comics, because you guys are geniuses.

Tim Wilkinson
Biology II

To the Editor:
It is clear I am a suicidal, yet blissfully ignorant student unable to:

a) manage my time
b) make objective assessments about anything
c) attain any level of education exceeding kindergarten

I am, after all, a graduate of Trent University.

If you’ll pardon my impudence for a moment, however, I would like to share my thoughts on The Gazette’s response to The Globe and Mail’s survey. The first editorial I read, entitled “Trent? What the fuck?” starts off by making the correct (though obvious) point that The Globe survey is, stupid. But it’s all downhill from there.

OK, I thought, there’s a journalist at The Gazette who didn’t do their research. No biggie. But this was followed by more Trent bashing in the “Survey ranked non-existent schools” article. And today? Today was the kicker. A nice picture of a “Trent student” with slashed wrists and a caption reading “You’d commit suicide too if you went to Trent... ” This time, someone actually bothered to call Trent and ask them about “Suicide Week.” Kudos. Unfortunately, the answer was completely ignored and the article continued to suggest Trent had an extra reading week because of a high suicide rate.

For the record: Suicide rates by university can be obtained from “A Statistical Portrait of Canadian Universities... ,” a 1996 report by Statistics Canada. Trent, it turns out, is about halfway down the list for Canadian universities, with such fine academic institutions as Queen’s University and McMaster University well above it. Strange that none of The Gazette staff bothered to consult this report.

I tell you, it sure is hard being a Biochemistry PhD candidate at Western with only the equivalent of kindergarten level education.

Derek Wilson
Biochemistry PhD Candidate II

Ed. Note: Writing Trent has a kindergarten-level education was a joke. We’re sure it’s at least Grade 5.

These were the issues that sparked the most debate with readers, and generated too many good letters to reprint individually.

• Middle East speakers Norman Finkelstein and Walid Shoebat
• The Western “bird-watcher”
• The French government banning religious headgear in public schools
• Lori Mastronardi’s “Confessions of an Amazon” column
• Controversial flyers and posters relating to the Middle East are posted in the UCC
• The existence of God and the value of religion



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