March 30, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 94  

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EDITORIAL

Letters

Peace rally lauded on both sides

To the Editor:
Last Wednesday, a large contingent of the Jewish population at Western gathered to unite against the atrocities that have been occurring in both Canada and Israel. This past week, the Toronto Jewish community was faced with acts of vandalism, such as the desecration of tombstones and the spraying of swastikas on Jewish homes. Despite the bad weather, the rally went on without fail, with some students attending another rally for Israel at Toronto’s Leah Posluns Theatre.

While at the rally, I came across a student wearing a Palestinian flag handing out flyers. At first I was a little apprehensive, assuming it was probably just another “anti-Israel” flyer. However, when I looked at the handout I was pleasantly surprised. The flyer had the Israeli flag alongside the Palestinian flag with a caption that read “Racism Affects Everyone.”

This flyer is the first step to ending the fighting. Individuals must realize there are two sides to every situation. While biases affect one’s beliefs, it is still extremely important to accept and listen to others. When dealing with something as controversial as the Middle East crisis, it is important to be tolerant of other opinions. While I in no way condone the terrorist actions displayed against innocent Israelis, I understand the suicide bombers only comprise a small group of the Palestinian population.

My heart lies with Israel, but I understand there is another side. This flyer represents the idea of tolerance, which is an essential foundation for peace.

Ariella Goodman
Political Science II

To the Editor:
Last Wednesday, I participated in Hillel’s anti-Semitism rally. Despite the cold and rain, it was good to see a significant number of attendees. It is essential that, as Canadians, we understand the devastating repercussions of racist actions such as those that occurred in Toronto over the past two weeks. In a society that prides itself on being multicultural and diverse, there is no place for hate and discrimination.

I was disappointed only by the fact there were not more people in attendance. I’m sure that if other groups had been informed, they would have come out to support the initiative. Racism exists in Canada, not only in the form of anti-Semitism, but against people of all ethnicities and religions. Had Hillel reached out to these groups, their message would have reverberated more widely.

As a member of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, with my handmade “stop racism” sign wilting in the rain, I found that our group became the object of a number of curious stares. Some regarded us suspiciously; others with incredulity and astonishment. I want to reassure those people that we meant no ill will. Our only purpose for standing with you was to show our support and solidarity against racist actions of any kind. As members of a club that advocates on a strong human rights platform, we find racism repugnant. Period.

After the rally, a female student approached me and expressed the hope that we had given her by our presence. It is my hope that students understand we are not “deadlocked in a never-ending shouting match” nor intolerant of anyone else’s views. We want equality and justice for ALL people, whether they are Israeli, Palestinian, Jew, Muslim, Druze or Christian. This is what SPHR stands and fights for.

Natalie Tabar
Media Studies M.A. candidate

Spirituality a rarity on campus

To the Editor:
Whatever happened to the notion of the university as a place where students can expect to develop in body, mind and spirit? It is increasingly evident that although Western is concerned about educating its students, spiritual issues are often avoided and neglected.

A recent survey taken on campus by Campus Crusade for Christ, revealed interesting results. The survey involved over 800 Western students and was carried out in order to explore spiritual interest. The results (which can be seen at www.usc.uwo.ca/clubs/crusade/), were quite surprising in that 66 per cent of males and 72 per cent of females surveyed believed God exists. Only 11 per cent of males and 8 per cent of females held the view that God did not exist, and of this number, only about one quarter were positive God did not exist.

With all the confusion and curiosity concerning the issue of spirituality, in addition to the condition of the world around us, it surprises me that spiritual issues are not addressed more on our campus. It is easier for students to find information about which bars to attend than information on places at which they can explore and express their spirituality.

A good indication of what is deemed important to students was the issue of The Gazette that addressed all things sexual, but little of spiritual things. Will there ever be a religion and spirituality issue of The Gazette released on campus? It was only by openly addressing the issue of sex that it became less of a taboo subject. My belief is that we should do the same for spirituality.

We in Campus Crusade for Christ share the belief that it is possible to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, but we encourage and welcome discussion with others, no matter what their beliefs may be. If not here on the university campus where diversity and debate is encouraged, then where?

Idumafa Jegede
Media, Information and Technoculture

Who ya gonna call?

Re: “Hotline needs more butts... er, bucks,” Mar. 17, 2004

To the Editor:
We commend Lindsay Buckingham and her partner for seeking out ways to stay smoke-free, and we regret that the Canadian Cancer Society’s Smokers’ helpline was not available to them at the specific time they called.

To clarify, the helpline hours are presently 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Monday to Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday. We know smokers deal with cravings and concerns at various times, which is why our helpline has extended hours to make us available during the times people call most. Our phone system is set up to accept messages after hours so we can return calls the next business day.

Our hours of operation are based on trying to make the best use of staff and financial resources. Our evening call volume drops significantly compared to the daytime. Our phone system allows us to see the number of calls made to us — regardless of whether they are answered — so we know if we are missing calls. Our experience to date has shown very few calls after 5 p.m. on Friday or on weekends, but we continue to track timing and volume of calls to identify if we need to consider adjustments.

We appreciate Lindsay’s suggestion that our hours of operation should be included on our advertisements, and we will look into doing this.

The Canadian Cancer Society’s Smokers’ helpline (1-877-513-5333) is a free, confidential telephone service. Trained quit specialists can help you develop a structured “Quit Plan,” answer your questions about quitting and refer you to services in your community.

Laura Wall
Manager, Elgin-Middlesex Unit
Canadian Cancer Society

Election conviction

Re: “Hurry up and call an election,” Mar. 23, 2004

To the Editor:
I would have thought The Gazette, a bastion of carnal and “liberal” knowledge, would understand Canada’s form of government: parliamentary democracy. The editorial felt that “the fact the PM can call an election whenever he wants… is unfair.” Indeed, the Canadian Constitution requires an election to be called every five years, while in the United States every four years. What is the big deal?

The difference is that the PM, with the permission of the Governor General, has to call an election if he or she loses the “confidence of the House.” If they lose a money bill, or are defeated on a major piece of legislation, the government must go to the people. Therefore, we are not stuck with a government not representative of the majority of the people. That is the core of responsible government, the democracy our ancestors fought to wrest authority from an absolute Monarch.

There is a sufficiently strong convention in this country that a newly elected PM cannot just call another election at will. Parliament must be given a chance to form a government, and the representative of the Monarch acts as a control on the prime minister. Even other parties can be called upon — other than the major party — to attempt to form government as long as they produce a majority.

In America, however, regardless of all the electioneering, the executive (i.e. president, cabinet) is independent of the elected Congress. Both branches of government hold their own elections. Many times they are completely at odds, but both remain in power for a fixed term even if no legislation is passed. So, why is America inherently more democratic?

Brent Sherar
Chemistry II

Martyrdom

Re: “Don’t fight fire with fire,” Mar. 25, 2004

To the Editor:
Beatrice Yu, I am glad to have read your opinion regarding my letter. I agree with you when you say that “An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind,” and that “terrorism is an act of fear, done in opposition to those who terrorists oppose.” I do, however, disagree with your ideas on collateral damage and not “resorting to vigilante justice.”

I should first attempt to clarify my position on this subject. The reasons for terrorism are complex and varied. Terrorist acts in my eyes are deadly forms of protest or responses to a situation. An example that comes to mind is the anti-abortionist who killed abortion doctors — something had pushed this person over the edge to kill.

Whether the proverbial straw was pent up frustration with not having a voice, or simply not having the proper tools for protest, killing is unacceptable. Whether fighting for “good” or “evil,” the loss of life is a tragedy on both sides of the coin.

I must reword what you wrote in your letter: are we supposed to quietly and complacently accept death in collateral damage form as a logical step in a terrorist’s attempt to stop the harmful policies made by a handful of politicians bowing to the pressures of a capitalist economy? The Sept. 11 attacks could also be seen as a show of power by terrorist elements; if the attacks of Sept. 11 were targeting the creators of American policy, how many people died as collateral damage? Conversely, in the War on Terrorism, how many died from errant bombs and gunfire? Every side of a conflict has had its share of mistakes.

We cannot simply “lay down and die.” Whether or not acts of terrorism against them or us are justified, ceasing aggressions without the enemy accepting your view is suicide. We can’t be martyrs burning ourselves to death in front of the enemy in an effort to change their views. But sometimes in order for change, one needs to see through the eyes of others.

Jonathan Leung
Political Science II

Great Caesar’s ghost!

Re: “Damn insurance companies,” Mar. 26, 2004

To the Editor:
You claim that “Caesar warned about the Ides of March,” but according to history (and perhaps Shakespeare), Caesar’s wife Calpurnia dreamt about her husband’s death. The next day, she warned him not to go to the forum on the Ides (Mar. 15 for us).

A. Graydon Bennett
Science I

Selling sex

To the Editor:
Has anyone else noticed the growing trend of flyers being passed around campus featuring nearly nude women on them to promote various events? How are you promoting your fashion show if the girls aren’t wearing any clothes?

I found the latest and most appalling example of this when I went to the website of a band being advertised around campus on the University Students’ Council’s posting boards. This self-proclaimed “semi-sophisticated” band posts trashy women posing and kissing on their website.

I find this use of women to sell music (two completely unrelated things) disgusting and unacceptable to have advertised on the walls of our academic institution.

Sophie Lussier
Engineering III

Chirp chirp

To the Editor:
Gimme a break. Why are these people crying about the fact that Biology 355b will not be offered next year? From speaking with friends enrolled in the class, the basis of the course is memorizing the names and migration patterns of over 200 species of birds.

If you want to learn about the “Adaptation and Ecology of Birds” so bad, read the textbook on your own time. I’ll even get you a copy of all the class notes if that will help you “gain knowledge and experience new ideas at the senior level.” This is just one class out of many senior courses the biology department offers. Suck it up and take another one.

Harpaul Cheema
Biology IV

 

 

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