MidEast groups strive for peace
This past weekend, Solidarity for Palestinian
Human Rights sent a letter to the Israel Action Comittee and
The Gazette on the subject of forging new common ground in
the debate over the Middle East. Here is SPHR’s original
letter and the response from the IAC.
To the Editor:
For Palestinians to ever receive their human rights and Israelis
to ever live in security, many things must happen at many
levels. Neither the IAC nor SPHR can end the illegal occupation
nor put an end to suicide bombings, but this must not stop
us from working together to pursue peace and justice.
SPHR issues an invitation to join us in the struggle for human
rights by making the following declaration:
1. Human rights, as defined by the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, are inalienable, and can never be taken away
from any person for any reason.
2. The death of any civilian is wrong and must be not only
regretted, but wholeheartedly condemned. The “collateral
damage” (how sterile the term) of suicide bombers is
unacceptable. The “collateral damage” of Israeli
forces is unacceptable.
3. There is no such thing as “good” violence,
but if humanity must kill itself, let it at least abide by
the Geneva Conventions, which condemn collective punishment
and preserve the rights of refugees and civilians affected
by the conflict.
4. International Laws and the United Nations are not perfect,
but provide the best forum for addressing international conflict.
Countries outside these boundaries are on the slippery slope
of unaccountability, and must immediately stop all violations
of International Law.
5. There can be no peace without justice. Solidarity for Palestinian
Human Rights is not antithetical to Israel or Judaism, as witnessed
by the number of Israeli and Jewish people and groups involved
in the struggle for human rights in Israel and Palestine. It
is only antithetical to injustice, colonialism and racism.
If the IAC represents none of these things, join us in our
declaration and the embrace of human rights.
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights
To the Editor:
Respectfully, the IAC responds:
1. Human rights are indeed, inalienable. Both Canada and Israel
are built on a foundation of individual human rights; but the
rights afforded each individual are conditional upon one’s
acceptance of the rights of others. Those that threaten the
rights of others invite the curtailing of their own rights,
in Canada through the War Measures Act.
2. The death of any civilian, Palestinian or Israeli, must
be condemned. But let us be very clear — there is no “collateral
damage” from a suicide bomber. Each is directly aimed
at the unarmed civilians in the buses, discos, hotels and markets.
To say otherwise is a simple abuse of language.
3. Agreed. However, a society that incites hatred in its children
through its media abuses their rights, contributing to humanity
killing itself through suicide. To be concerned about rights
being affected by Israel, without concern of the affects of
the Palestinian leadership, is to neglect the cause and deny
4. While the United Nations should offer a just forum for
addressing international conflict, in practice, it is composed
of nations who are opposed to Israel’s very existence
and who commit atrocities the UN never condemns. This is hardly
a body by which Israel should be judged.
5. There can indeed be no peace without justice. There should
be a just solution to the plight of Palestinian refugees, including
those treated abominably by Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria and others.
And there should also be justice for the 850,000 Jewish refugees
expelled from Arab lands in 1948, 1956 and 1967 for the sole
misfortune of being Jewish.
It is absurd and dishonest to accuse a people of colonialism
or imperialism in their endeavor to build and sustain a state
on its own ancestral lands. When terrorism is utterly rejected
and the legitimacy of a Jewish state on Jewish lands is recognized,
the SPHR and the Palestinian people it supports will find Israel
to be a willing partner, ready to make the compromises necessary
for a just and lasting peace. The IAC will join anyone in the
pursuit of such a goal.
Israel Action Committee
Scholarships going bye-bye
Re: “Students say promised graduate payment killed,” Feb.
To the Editor:
I urge graduate students to look more closely into one of the “exciting
new initiatives” that Assoc. Dean Vandervoort is speaking
about. At the doctoral level, the Canada Graduate Scholarship
is worth $35,000 for three years. The problem is, however,
that only about 10 per cent of the graduate student population
will benefit from this money, an endeavour that has cost the
federal government at least $51 million.
The feds introduced this scholarship at a time when well-endowed
universities like Western claim to be “out of money” for
making good on the barethread funding they’ve offered
its graduate students. Is the university administration petitioning
the government to get rid of these bloated scholarships and
restore appropriate levels of transfer payments to the provinces?
Of course not. They claim their hands are tied while they make
debt-riddled students bear the brunt of the government’s
eugenics-style approach to post-secondary education.
The loss of the SUS scholarship is only the beginning. Talks
are underway for the death of the President’s Scholarship
and a reduction in available Teaching Assistantships. It’s
only going to get nastier.
2nd Year PhD
Fair Access to Education member
Students shop before they drop
Re: “Two weeks is plenty of time,” Feb. 11, 2004
To The Editor:
It doesn’t surprise me that the authors of last Wednesday’s
editorial didn’t actually read the policy on Withdrawn
courses before labelling it a bad idea.
With the add/drop date being where it is for Winter 2004 (on
a Tuesday of the second week of classes), it is possible for
students to have courses registered as WDN after only having
been to one lecture. The Student Caucus on Governance does
not believe a student should have a course recorded as WDN
simply because they haven’t decided to drop the course
after receiving a course syllabus and a brief run-through of
Although results from the evaluation of courses and professors
can act as a good guide for students choosing their courses,
this is by no means a substitute for the actual experience.
Sometimes students, in weighing their options, decide they
want to give the course a chance as opposed to dropping the
course after a first impression.
Finally, I find it amusing The Gazette suggests we focus our
attention on issues like online add/drop. The reason I find
it amusing, is that putting add/drop online in the fall of
this year was an initiative started by the Student Caucus on
Governance (with BOG representative Brian Lynch at the helm).
This is something we continue to work on.
Since The Gazette feels it is their place to tell us how to
do our job, here is a suggestion to you: do some research.
Chair, Student Caucus on Governance
ITS makes little cents
To the Editor:
The “brains” at ITS decided not to add the e-mail
client to the new Mozzila because it took 75 Gig (2.5 MB per
student times 30,000 students). At a buck a gig on the street,
Western saved $75 — I’ll look for the reduction
in fees next year.
But wait, I used to save about $1 in copying for every online
journal I e-mailed home while printing about 20 journals for
each of three to four projects per year. So they save $75 and
I pay an additional $60 to $80 per year. Does ITS secretly
own the copiers here? It would have cost them $0.0025 per student
to add e-mail to Mozilla and make my life easier and cheaper.
Recently, students rallied around increasing tuition by 250
per cent in the past 10 years, while the Bank of Canada website
claims inflation for that period was 19.8 per cent. Tuition
has increased at 12 times the inflation rate, and they won’t
spend a quarter of a cent on each student.
Want to know why our ranking is dropping?
Bio. Enviro III
Re: “Class at the Smith,” Feb. 12, 2004
To the Editor:
I must be out of my mind. I have no problem being associated
with the media, information and technoculture faculty and
I know quite a few people who would have no problem plastering
their name on that building. I actually even know people
not even in the faculty who wouldn’t mind being associated
with MIT. Your claim to fame may have been using MIT as the
butt of your unfunny joke, but I ask why you feel no other
person in their “right mind” would desire any
public association with MIT?
Regardless, I hope you enjoyed validating your visual arts
degree by making a poor attempt to disregard another.
Racism a closed book
To the Editor:
Much to my surprise, a calm Sunday night of reading at D.B.
Weldon Library turned into an eventful experience. Being
at the library and all, I half expected it to be quiet. However,
whispers by a group of three girls at one table, and a girl
on her cellphone at another table, distracted me.
The next thing I knew, the girls were yelling at each other
to “shut the fuck up.” Then, Cellphone Girl felt
the need to retaliate by saying, “Take your Paki covers
and get the hell out!” She was referring to, in her own
words, the headscarves worn by Muslims. When told she had made
a degrading comment, she proceeded to tell the girls they were
degrading themselves just by having people look at their faces.
Fortunately, no one was hurt, although it was pretty close.
All I have to say to Cellphone Girl is that I hope you are
incredibly ashamed of your behaviour. That attitude had better
change or else you are going nowhere in life. It is discouraging
to know that someone who is at university to receive a higher
level of education seems ignorant to the fact societal values
emphasize equality and acceptance, and that racial discrimination
receives widespread disapproval.
To the Editor:
Thanks to the asshole who let his car alarm go off for a solid
hour outside D.B. Weldon Library’s north wing last
Monday. It was greatly appreciated by those of us studying
for midterms. I hope that whoever was “stealing” your
car is more considerate than you are, jerkoff.
Taking issue with the Sex Issue
To the Editor:
We would like to congratulate The Gazette on yet another wonderful
Sex Issue. You made us hot. So hot we are livid. It is comforting
to know our student fees are put to such journalistic dreck.
Your work was despicable and completely unnecessary. You
prove nothing. Toying with lesbianism to attract readers?
We would have thought that to be below your standards.
Such young writers have an incredible opportunity to have
a large impact on our university’s community. Does The
Gazette want intellectual readers or simply voyeurs?
We do not deny that most of those girls were beautiful. They
should be proud of themselves. Due to their skillful work,
women everywhere should finally get the respect they deserve.
Note: Pornography objectifies and degrades women, portraying
them as playthings, toys or pieces of meat. It glorifies the
rape myth of when a woman says “no” what she really
means is “yes.” It affects the attitudes of those
who view it, resulting in a callousness toward and disrespect
for women. Studies show that 87 per cent of convicted rapists
admit to regular use of pornography, and 56 per cent use it
in the commission of their crimes (Dr. William Marshall).
Julie Beth Lowe
Health Sciences III
To The Editor:
We thought Valentine’s Day was a day to celebrate love
in every shape and form. Little did we know, V-day was some
type of permit which allowed a university newspaper to publish
softcore pornography, a.k.a. “the Sex Issue.”
We are absolutely shocked, mortified and appalled that an
academic institution (ranked third overall in Canada) housing
the leaders of tomorrow is content, even proud, of degrading
its own student population. Since when is “sex” translated
into a full issue of pictographic Western Girls Gone Wild?
Why, oh why, does The Gazette seem to think that all 30,000
Western students on campus are heterosexual males?
For those who argue that having these explicit photos are
expressions of female empowerment, think again. The only reason
these girls were photographed was to please the heterosexual
Our point is two-fold: first let’s please start catering
to the other sexual orientations on campus and let’s
stop equating “sex” with the degradation of females.
We find it awfully difficult to link a day dedicated to love
with sex and pretty pictures of scantily-clad women. Or maybe
we’re alone here at Western. Maybe it’s simply
the two of us who find ourselves enraged by this recent publication
and see it in the context of the greater picture.
Irrespective of the possibility of this being true, we wanted
our voices to be heard and challenge people to evaluate whether
the Sex Issue was equitable to both genders and all sexual
orientations on campus.
Political Science & French IV
To the Editor:
Top five scary facts culled from the 2004 Gazette Sex Survey:
• Guys, if your girlfriend was a virgin when you met,
she was either lying or she’s going to leave you (source:
there were no women who said they’d only had one sexual
• Guys, your girlfriend HAS had a one night stand. Was
it you? (source: no women polled said they hadn’t had
a one night stand).
• If you have a male sexual partner at the moment, there’s
a 25 per cent chance he probably has an STD (source: 25 per
cent of males have slept with more than 10 people).
• If you have a female sexual partner at the moment,
there’s a 25 per cent chance she probably has an STD
(source: 27 per cent of females have slept with more than 10
• Sex is dangerous (source: 81.5 per cent of people have
sustained injuries during sex).
I pity anyone who doesn’t see the fault in these assumptions.
To the Editor:
Many readers of The Gazette have sat for too long about the
moral corruption you publish in your “paper.” I
must report, I am confused as to your agenda in writing the
many articles in your “publication,” the exception
being the excellent and often humorous Sports section.
I think with the Sex Issue 2004 you have reached your pinnacle
of depravity. It was released a day before Valentine’s
Day, a day about love and companionship, which displayed a
corrupt view of what Feb. 14 is about. Traditions about St.
Valentine’s Day will testify to that idea. The lewdness
of your pictures is despicable for a student paper. I almost
mistook it for a pornographic magazine placed in the newspaper
pile by mistake.
I am surprised that more couples around campus are not as
outraged as I am, as it makes the day of love seem to be a
one night stand for horny people fulfilling their jaded sexual
desires. Also for the religious, regardless of tradition, speak
loudly against the abuse and exploits of sexuality. Don’t
forget that man was made in the image of God and that chastity
is a virtue in both Greek philosophy and religious beliefs.
However, the fact that couples and the religious don’t
seem to be the majority of people when it comes to campus life
renders my argument weak. Therefore, I will appeal to all students
who believe in a sense of decency. Sex has its place in loving
relationships between couples, not in the front foyer of my
Religious Studies and Philosophy II