February 18, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 77  

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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 the solution.

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. 12, 2004

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.

Cynthia Leighton
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 course content.

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.

Dave Vaillancourt
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?

Steve O’Reilly
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.

Jody Graydon

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.

Jenn Tao
Psychology II


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.

Bill Sura
Science III

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. Thanks ladies.

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
Karl Wilcox
Philosophy IV

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 Western male.

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.

Anne-Marie Sanchez
Political Science & French IV
Monika Lenkiewicz
Biology 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 partner).

• 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 people).

• 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.

Andrew Heins

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 academic institution.

Ian Pattenden
Religious Studies and Philosophy II



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